Eucharist – 2nd Sunday of Lent – 28th Feb 2021
31Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’ 34He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’
How do you read the Bible?
As tempting as it might be, we do the Bible a major injustice if we see it as one single and sacred book between the two covers protecting it from the world outside. The Bible doesn’t need our protection!
Instead, it’s the product of a long and intriguing process that continues today, with us, as we turn its pages and ask the Spirit to lead us into wisdom and holiness as we read. Yes, that means we are part of the Bible’s story – we are a part of God’s revelation to the world. Do you find that an empowering thing to ponder as you spend time in the Lenten wilderness?
If we read this week’s Gospel story on its own and out of context, we might be led to believe that the mission of Jesus is simply to suffer and to die. However, when we read around this passage, and see where it fits into the narrative, we can more easily see that the mission of Jesus and his disciples is to give life, not bring death.
This week, Jesus is making it clear that the earthly powers – those religious elites who fiercely guard access to God, as well as the occupying Roman forces – will violently oppose his message and, in the end, will attempt to extinguish it entirely. The way of Jesus will cost his followers if they are truly following. The road to glory will inevitably pass through Golgotha. This is inevitable if we challenge unfair power structures, if we give voice to the oppressed, and lift up the poor and powerless. The Christian life can have but one shape and it’s the shape of the cross. Despite Jesus’ own popularity, he doesn’t seek it for its own sake.
If you take a moment, read the Gospel passage again. We’re used to reading about Jesus rebuking Peter. But this week, there’s something deeply attractive about Peter being bold enough to rebuke Jesus, taking him to one side and giving him a piece of his mind. Perhaps unsurprisingly, finding an image or artwork that illustrates Peter rebuking Jesus was impossible. So the image this week is a more classic image, slightly abstract, but shows Jesus turning his back on Satan – all fiery and red.
But back to Peter…when was the last time YOU gave God a piece of your mind? We can be a bit sensitive about this sort of stuff, but (just like the Bible), God doesn’t need protecting. We can be honest with God, because God sees all anyway.
If you’re angry with God, why not give God a piece of your mind today? God can take it all. And when you’re done, give God a piece of your heart too so that you might gain the whole world and life in its fullness as well.