“From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” ( Matthew 16:21)
When the disciples (or more accurately Peter) recognized that Jesus was something more than man like them, Jesus must have decided it was time to take the next step in teaching them what the “Son of Man” was destined for. They (again, more accurately Peter) did not like this and did not hide too much his dismay.
“And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” (Verse 22)
And Jesus did not much like that.
“But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” (Verse 23)
Then came a teachable moment.
“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? “For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done.” (Verses 24 – 27)
Before we go further, I find it an interesting parallel that first Peter had revealed to him the truth of who Jesus was. But at this instance the Evil was working through Peter to set up obstacle for the teaching of the disciples and/or the progress of Jesus’ ministry. And I have to wonder how often in our lives one or the other of these forces is battling and grappling for our soul and spirit. It is not always, beloved reader, that clear cut. In fact, very rarely is it that clear. We think we know what is right and correct to do; but something comes along, and we are back to stumbling along.
It takes the ability to, or the experience of, understanding things upside down and backwards. We are to lose in order to gain, And what is lost to us, will be given back.
I also have to wonder, how can we has human beings understand this complicated Christian algebra? We have human experience on the one side, and Christian experience and teaching on the other side – then we need to solve for “x” representing redemption and salvation. And if that was not tough enough, we are expected to solve this riddle and equation while being buffeted by issues and situations in our current modern world.
“Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Verse 28)
I talk often about what I call an “Authentic Christian Life.” Let me start by saying that no denomination or faith tradition has the exclusive on an authentic Christian life. It would be easy to fall back on the maxim, “I can’t tell you what it is, but I know it when I see it.” But that is not quite fair nor true. Until and unless we can see inside another’s spirit and psyche, we cannot know what their personal theology is. And dependent on what of Christ’s life we highlight in our faith traditions, our idea of authentic may not parallel another person’s. Consider the way the books of the gospel intermingle the stories of Jesus’ ministry, and you can see where the tenets of one set of faith beliefs might not line up with another. I would truly like to believe there is one common core that is basic to all Christianity. However I recently said that there is more than one path to the Divine.
No, I have to conclude there may not be a consensus on what is authentic Christianity. As Peter found out, sometimes you see clearly; and other times you get all the details wrong. The best we can do is have an “authenticity plumb line” that is set up according to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus’ life. And then leave it to the Holy Presence to inform and quicken our faith.
So let us not hold back from the hard truths of the Christian life, as we understand them. Let us give ourselves the grace to make mistakes, and get it wrong at times. And when we since we have lost sight of “authenticity”, let us prayer to the Divine for assistance and guidance in getting back to where we need to be, and where our faith should take us. Shalom & Selah!