Friday, November 11, 2011

Who do you say that I am?

Jesus puts it square to his friends and followers: “Who do you say that I am?”

Simon Peter, the dominant Alpha Male of the crowd, says squarely back: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”

In this passage we get today, Matthew 16:13-20, Jesus tells Peter that he is the “rock” upon which he will build his church, but to keep it to himself, to say nothing to no one about Jesus being the “Messiah.”

Why would Jesus ask and then tell Peter to hush?

Maybe it is because Peter has no idea what he means by those words: “Messiah” and “Son of the Living God.”

Do we?

The readings today also tell of a vision of a powerful swordsman riding in on a horse to slay the nations in Revelation 19:11-16, but the swordsman has no name.

Is he the Messiah, Son of the Living God?

Maybe in the dreams of some.

Masada, Israel
told in Maccabees
We also hear of the Jews being slaughtered for honoring to the Covenant of their ancestors and circumcising their sons. The scenes in 1 Maccabees 1:41-63 are gory beyond imagining. No Messiah comes on a horse to rescue them.

Where then is this messiah?

Perhaps we might see him in the bleakness of Psalm 88, also appointed for this morning:

“O LORD my God, my Savior, by day and night I cry to you.”
“You have laid me in the Pit, in dark places, and in the abyss.”
That is a hard place to go, but it is exactly there that the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, goes, and his going defines everything about what he means by the Messiah, Son of the Living God.

Christ, the anointed One, goes to the Cross, to share with us in our dark night of soul, to walk with us into the Pit, into the difficult painful places where we hurt the most, and lead us beyond to new life. He goes there to end the way of the Cross.

But Peter cannot know that yet. More is to come.

The Collect for Friday points to the path:
Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.

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