September 1, 2002

Matthew 16:21-28

Then Jesus made it clear to his disciples that it was now necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, submit to an ordeal of suffering at the hands of the religious leaders, be killed, and then on the third day be raised up alive. Peter took him in hand, protesting, "Impossible, Master! That can never be!"

But Jesus didn't swerve. "Peter, get out of my way Satan, get lost. You have no idea how God works."

Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?

"Don't be in such a hurry to go into business for yourself. Before you know it the Son of Man will arrive with all the splendor of his Father, accompanied by an army of angels. You'll get everything you have coming to you, a personal gift. This isn't pie in the sky by and by. Some of you standing here are going to see it take place, see the Son of Man in kingdom glory."

[The Message]


1. In the midst of our "Impossibles" is the possibility of seeing "kingdom glory."

2. To participate in this shift to glory is to get an idea of how GOD works. A clue to this not placing anything, including our self, ahead of GOD (Jewish connection?). Another clue is dealing with suffering, even embracing it (Buddhist connection?). Another clue is the issue of self-sacrifice (Islamic connection?).

Can we get an idea of these issues in a Christian context and appreciate these issues in other contexts?

3. How do you read the difference in translations between "and then he will repay everyone for what has been done" [NRSV] and "You'll get everything you have coming to you, a personal gift" [The Message]?

There are those who would see this as a mighty negative judgment upon the world who would magnify the word "repay" into hellish retribution.

There are those who would see this as a grand positive inheritance of feeders-of-the-hungry, welcomers-of-strangers, clothers-of-the-naked, visitors-of-prisoners, and so much more.

Perhaps the old KJV and its generic use of "works" is a more straight forward prelude to Matthew 25?

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