Thursday, August 31, 2017
Lectionary 22 A - Matthew 16:21-28
Peter thinks “the rock” upon which the church will be built should have a say so about its foundation and undergoing great suffering and death is not a part of Peter’s plan for the Messiah. You would think “and on the third day be raised” might make a difference, but it doesn’t. He’s a Galilean fisherman sailing in uncharted waters. He has witnessed miraculous healing and feedings and the transfiguration and even though the wind and waves freaked him out and made him sink he walked on water. When he gets the promotion from “one of the twelve” to CEO he’s already cashed in the keys of the kingdom and is looking forward to living large. The rebuke must have come as a surprise with the “blessed are you” ringing in his ears and while the Gospels do not record his immediate response his later denial in the courtyard would indicate that the “and on the third day be raised” still hadn’t sunk in. It is true for us as well. We do not wish sorrow away by the power of positive thinking. We cannot revise reality by saying the half empty glass is half full. Half full is the same as half empty in that there is 50 % less to drink. And of course we cannot avoid the inevitability of death. No. The suffering is great. The death is real. Which is why only “and on the third day be raised” can address the very things to which Peter, and we ourselves, say, “God forbid it, Lord!” The power of the resurrection is that it is the only thing that can deny death the last word about us which is why we dare to lose our lives before death can speak.