According to Jesus, chances are good that there's not going to be much left of us once we've admitted to just how often stumbling blocks stand in our way. Whether others put them there or we find ways to place them ourselves, they trip us up, keep us from moving forward, get us off track.
Our proclivity for greatness is rather embarrassing, isn’t it? No wonder the disciples keep their mouths shut when Jesus inquires about the topic of their conversation on the road. We want it, and we want it big time—recognition, sway, importance—but we also get that we shouldn’t admit this out loud.
This week’s Gospel may be the second Passion prediction, but being told that Jesus will be killed is no easier on the second hearing. Maybe the disciples don’t ask questions because they’re afraid it could be true.
I am thinking of starting
a campaign to bring back Palm Sunday, without the additional observance of
Passion Sunday. Palm Sunday was always one of my favorites growing up as a
preacher's kid, and it was all about the palms--and a lot of them. It was
celebratory, festive, when as child I got a chance for a hands-on worship
experience and a glimpse of what royalty could look like.
Lately I've been thinking about Jesus' raising of Lazarus as
the impetus for the authorities' wanting Jesus dead. It might not be that Jesus
raising someone from the dead itself causes the Jewish officials to say,
"That's it. Enough is enough," so much as that Jesus is exactly who he says he
is: the resurrection and the life.
As a John scholar, I have always been fascinated with the scribal confusion about Jesus' "I AM" statement: "I am the resurrection and the life." Some of the ancient manuscripts for the Gospel of John omit "and the life," with the assumption that this is a redundancy and that no self-respecting Jesus would repeat himself. This is Martha's misunderstanding, isn't it?
The conversation at Caesarea Philippi is a defining moment for the synoptic Gospels, although only Matthew and Mark name it as the location for Peter’s confession, “You are the Messiah.” For the Gospel narratives as post-Easter interpretations, reflections and perspectives, who Jesus is constitutes the most important question for those early communities that claimed belief in
The problem with Matthew 15:21-28 lies in the portrait of Jesus as neither the Jesus we have come to know and love nor, if we are honest, a Jesus we particularly like. The optional verses in the lectionary (Matt. 15:10-20) may elicit Peter’s reaction: “Explain yourself, Jesus!”
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