Grace and peace to you, from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Well that didn’t last long. Remember last week when Peter was praised by Jesus? Last week, we heard Peter proclaim that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus had asked all the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” No one answered but Peter. Jesus praised Peter, and said, “You are Peter. On this rock, I will build my church.”
Today, however, Peter objects to what Jesus says. Jesus is telling the disciples what will happen to him when they get to Jerusalem. “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.”
But Peter is having none of it. Peter took him aside, and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” Jesus, the same leader that had praised Peter so highly, now rebukes him pretty harshly. “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.” Wow, just wow!! How did Peter get it so wrong?
What we have to remember is that Israel was occupied by the Roman army. They were persecuted and abused. So it makes sense that they would pray for a Messiah. Someone to save them from the Romans. Someone like David, a great king. What Peter says in today’s Gospel makes sense, considering the suffering of the people. Yes, Peter got it completely wrong! He was expecting a glorious Messiah King. Jesus was not that kind of Messiah. I guess Peter didn’t even hear the last thing Jesus said: “The Messiah will die, AND be raised from death on the third day. Sometimes we hold on to the second thing Jesus said, not the first, probably because we know Jesus was raised. But if we minimize the Cross, we misunderstand what Jesus is all about. God loved this broken world so much that he sent Jesus, not just to die, but to live!
It is true, we come here each Sunday to worship the risen Lord! We are Resurrection people. BUT, we are also people who follow Jesus as he cares for the sick and the outcast, to show us how to love one another. And Jesus’s love for all people was what he did that lead to the Cross. He was arrested because he shared God’s love with everyone, Jew and Greek, Romans and sinners, Jesus included all people in his ministry and healing.
That is what we are called to do now. We need to carry on the ministry Jesus started, acting out God’s love for all people, not just the ones who believe what we believe or have the same ideas that we have. Some people refer to Jesus’s command to love one another - our cross to bear. But I don’t agree. I believe Jesus’s call gives us the freedom to love and care for all people without judgement, or criticism, or boundaries. That is what Jesus did. We go out of here to do likewise. Amen.