Rebuking human limitation
Lectionary blog on Mark 8:31-38 Text for the second Sunday of Lent, March 4, 2012
Jesus feels the judgment in the heart of Peter and his other disciples. Probably, it was their fear talking. I am sure that the shock and disillusionment was just too great to comprehend.
Suffering, rejection and death at the hands of the elders, chief priests and scribes. How could such a horrible thing happen? There has to be some rhyme or reason to it.
How could God let such a bad thing happen to Jesus? Peter takes matters into his own hands taking Jesus aside to rebuke him.
For the disciples, especially Peter, it could have been a mix of homesickness or guilt. Did we make the right decision to follow Jesus? It is a good thing that we are following a righteous teacher.
Or was it arrogance? Certainly, God would not ascribe such a horrible fate. Peter stood on his own righteousness to rebuke Jesus. When we are really honest with ourselves, if we have to choose between being wrong or right, we would declare ourselves right and find reasons to defend our opinion. It feels good to be right and to be righteous.
So Jesus calls together the disciples and the crowds and sets them right with God’s righteousness, which was unfathomable to them. The divine things make no human sense.
Jesus calls Peter out of the limiting fear of death. In fact, Jesus would lose his life on a cross in order for humanity to have life. Glory will come through the inglorious way of death. And following Jesus means letting go of human righteousness and wisdom. Following Jesus means letting go of human limitations.
Through Christ’s death and resurrection, we need not fear anything, even death itself. This is the only fact by which we rightly live. In the end we do not have to hang our salvation on being right. We do not even have to fear being wrong. We do not have to comfort ourselves by lifting ourselves above others -- even Jesus, himself -- because such forms of comfort are ultimately hollow.
• What do our judgments of others reveal about ourselves? How are your fears revealed in judgments?
• About what would you talk back to Jesus? What part of his teaching would you like to argue about? How does your argument reveal fear?
• How are you reassured with Christ’s forgiveness and hope even in the midst of fear? How does Christ rebuke your fear and bring you to faith?
Matthew Ollikainen is pastor of Christ Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in Barto, Pa.
You might also want to read:
A call to discipleship -- now!
Does the church lock the door?
No ground under our feet