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Next in the Anglican Bloggers' Collaborative Series from L&B: Matt Kennedy
Prydain ^ | 3/20/2006 | Will

Posted on 03/30/2006 7:00:57 PM PST by sionnsar

For today in the series of Lenten meditations from Lent and Beyond's collaborative effort by a group of Anglican bloggers, we have Peter's Cross by the Rev. Matt Kennedy. This is another fine effort by Rev. Kennedy--well worth reading.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant
Matt Kennedy: Peter’s Cross
Filed under: Lent 2006, Anglican Bloggers Lenten Devotionals — Karen B. @ 5:41 am

This is the thirty-second in a series of daily Lenten devotionals by a group of Anglican bloggers and friends. Today’s entry is by The Rev. Matt Kennedy, rector of Good Shepherd Binghamton, NY and regular contributor on the StandFirm blog. You can read other entries in the series here.


Peter’s Cross
By the Rev. Matt Kennedy
Daily lections: lent 4 year 2 (Mark 8:27-9:1)

Peter’s confession in Mark stands at the crucial turning point of the gospel. Up to that point, Jesus had been healing, resuscitating the dead, casting out demons, walking on water, making bread ex-nihilo. As Jesus and his disciples tour Galilee proclaiming the coming of the kingdom of God, miracles abound. And speculation, rumors, and theories as to Jesus’ identity abound with them.

By the time Jesus and his disciples escaped north to the region around Ceasarea Philippi, he was being hailed as the typological “Elijah” who was to presage the new age. Others believed him to be a new prophet.

But it was Peter who finally articulated what many, if not most were thinking and hoping. “You are the Christ.” You, Jesus, are the one for whom all Israel has been waiting.

We all know what sort of baggage came with that confession. Peter’s concept of the messiah’s role, like that of his fellow Jews, was conditioned as much by national political despair as by the Law and the Prophets.

But I tend to think Peter was carrying some rather more personal baggage as well. He had, over the previous year or so, risen from a simple (if not necessarily humble) fisherman to one of the top three trusted lieutenants of a one of the most famous teachers in Palestine. How did this experience change him?

As the crowds massed, the miracles abounded, the bread multiplied and it increasing dawned on Peter that Jesus might be more than just a preacher, more even than a prophet, how frequently I wonder did his thoughts turn self ward?

Having experienced the shared adulation and adoration of the crowds, did he begin to crave it? Did he somewhere in the recesses of his heart ask with anticipatory exultation: “If Jesus is messiah, what does that mean for me; power, authority, a crown, a throne?”

Perhaps by the time he made his good confession, Peter had already come to think of his future in princely terms: “Jesus the king and his 12 governors; or his12 princes or his 12 nobles?”

What a shock it must have been when Jesus acknowledged his identity as the Christ but then “began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed…” (Mark 8:31)

From that moment, the tone and pace of Mark changes dramatically. There are far fewer miracles and far fewer crowds. Jesus is the Christ but he’s not that kind of Christ. The kingdom is coming but it’s not that kind of kingdom.

Peter did not like this new face of the kingdom at all. He specifically despised the part about being rejected and killed. Mark tells us that he took Jesus aside and “rebuked him” (Mark 8:32)

We don’t know exactly what Peter said but only two verses later he gives this charge: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself take up his cross and follow me.” (8:35)

And this, of course, is the trouble. Peter doesn’t want the cross, he wants the crowds. He doesn’t want rejection, he wants adoration. He doesn’t want persecution, he wants power.

When I look inside myself I see the same thing. Maybe not always the same desires, but I often want to “save my life”, to save my expectations, to save my hopes for myself, my career, my family from the cross.

I even catch myself “rebuking” Jesus now and then.

Recently, God has taken away a very treasured part of our family life. He has given us another much more difficult calling in its place. It’s not quite crucifixion but it’s not nice. In fact, I hate it. It’s hard. I want our old life back.

But Jesus has different plans.

I found myself rebuking Jesus for this the other day. “It’s not supposed to go this way. Why would you lead us into this? Where are the ‘green pastures’ and ‘still waters’?”

How often we come to Jesus expecting him to crown our desires and make our wants part of his call.

How often we find a cross instead. I hate crosses.

And yet they save.

“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and yet forfeit his soul?” (8:35-37)

We find in retrospect (always, unfortunately, in retrospect) that when we give him that one “thing” we’ve been clinging too we discover life lying beyond it. I use the word “discover” because it is always an unexpected find. You never discover it unless and until you let go of that “thing” clenched between your fists and take up the cross.

Peter ultimately let go of his future to take up Christ’s. He found life beyond Jerusalem, beyond Good Friday, and beyond his failures there far better and brighter than any earthly crown or throne or jewel.

May we all do and find the same.

1 posted on 03/30/2006 7:00:59 PM PST by sionnsar
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2 posted on 03/30/2006 7:01:42 PM PST by sionnsar (†† | Libs: Celebrate MY diversity! | Iran Azadi 2006)
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