Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Who is Jesus for you?

Some of the Readings for this week: Prov 1, Ps 19, James 2, Mark 8:27-38. (proper 24 13th September 2009, 15th Sunday after Pentecost)

We need to keep asking ourselves penetrating questions.
One question we have been asking out of the reading for the last few weeks is
"What do I really want?"
This is not to say that if we want something hard enough then God will capitulate
and give it to us....
but rather we need to have a certain degree of rigour about our inward looking
that demands of us something other than superficiality.
So what do I really want,
may be treated superficially,
or we may realise
that it is at the point of my deepest longing
that I am met by God.
There are many images of this in the lives of the people of faith.
God is already coming out to meet us.

A similar question is the one which Jesus asks his disciples in the Gospel passage we read today:
Who do people say that I am? and Who do you say that I am?
Again, it would be easy to be superficial...the great teacher, the healer,
a romantic historical figure, a hero....
but we are being invited, I suggest,
to get in touch with the source of abundant life,
we are being invited to encounter God.

You are the Messiah -There is a real sense in which we see in this passage
that understanding who Jesus is, is not an act of "knowing" at all
but an act of inspiration or revelation.
Our Anglican formularies, consistent with received Christian wisdom,
understand this to be so...many of our prayers say things like...without you we are not able to receive you...send your Holy Spirit that we may know.
If this is so....then a good part of our prayer needs to go towards praying that we may be open
to receive what God has to offer.

The Son of Man must undergo suffering- the way of faith is not an easy one.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer one of the 20th century martyrs says that there is no such thing as "cheap grace" (see some thoughts about DB here)
the paradox of Christian faith is that grace, life in God, abundant or eternal life,
however we describe it
is the free gift of God and yet
it comes at great cost
This is a paradox, rather than a contradiction,
and it draws out of us profound feelings.
One image Jesus uses is that of the extremely valuable treasure

Matt 13:45,46 "Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, who having found one pearl of great price, goes out and sells everything in order to buy it."

Once we realise what Jesus is offering us
we will devote ourselves to its pursuit.
....Theoretically and logically...
but when Jesus spells out very clearly
the cost that he will pay
...his own life, reputation, and relationships....
Peter rebukes Jesus and then we read....
Jesus rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan!
For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’
It reminds us that we do indeed get things right,
but then we often let them slip away.
Peter, like me I often think, is a maelstrom of this sort of toing and froing.
No sooner do we get it than we reneg
it is clear and then we put our foot in it.

So if we are praying this sort of stuff through we pray:
"May we receive the clear understanding of who you are.
May we be brave enough to accept the consequences,
and be courageous enough to trust God rather ourselves"

The ominous warning

It is not that we, like some suicidal bomber,
are to bring on our own demise
particularly not with the arrogance of hastening the kingdom.
Nor that we can avoid suffering.
There is indeed something of the reality here that
the embrace of suffering is part of what life in Christ is about.
It is not the purpose of life in Christ
It is a consequence that we accept....we sell everything in order to be able to purchase the pearl.

This requires some sort of courage.
Fortunately God supplies that.
Are we open to allow God to be our supplier!!


  • Pray for grace to be courageous and faithful
  • Look for opportunities to confess the truth of who Jesus is
  • Seek forgiveness when we close ourselves to the difficulty of the call and re-establish a commitment to give everything for the Gospel.

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