Sunday 03 September 2017

Bible Book:

“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.” (v. 21)

Matthew 16:21-28 Sunday 3 September 2017

Psalm: Psalm 26


The apostle Peter was a very significant figure in the EarlyChurch, as we might expect, given his prominence in the gospelaccounts. And he is portrayed 'warts and all'.

Today's passage represents the major turning point in thenarrative of Matthew's Gospel, as, in the preceding verses Peterhad finally understood (or so he thought...) who Jesus really was -the Jewish Messiah, or "Christ" (Matthew 16:13-20). Many Jews in the firstcentury believed that God would raise up a saviour-king who woulddefeat their enemies and usher in a new age of purity and justice -and global Jewish dominance. But Jesus (and this is very important)avoided using this title for himself, preferring to describehimself as "the Son of Man", an altogether more ambiguous term,derived in part from Daniel7, where we read about an enigmatic human figure who is givenauthority by God to rule on earth, and partly from Isaiah's equallyenigmatic (and equally human) "Suffering Servant", whose own deathwill lead to the transformation and renewal of Israel (eg Isaiah52:13 - 53:12). And this is where Peter was confused, as hisresponse to Jesus' declaration about his impending death makes veryclear (verse 22).

Jesus' rebuke to Peter (verse 23) was harsh - he called him"Satan", the "tester", and told him to follow behind him, and notto get in his way. And Jesus made it very clear to his disciplesthat following him would potentially be as costly for themas doingGod's will would be for himself. This may tell us something aboutthe situation confronting Christians in the community (probablyJewish Christians) for whom Matthew was writing - at a time whenboth Jews and Christians were being persecuted, following the fallof Jerusalem in AD70, and hoping desperately that the Messiah wouldcome very soon to save them, which Jesus had, according toMatthew's Gospel, promised (verse 28).

To Ponder

  • Matthew's Gospel was probably written for a late 1st-centuryJewish Christian audience, facing persecution. How might thatinfluence the way we read it today?
  • Today the gospel (good news of Jesus) is often presented interms of the benefits that Christians might enjoy, rather than thecost that following Jesus might involve. Does that matter?Why?
  • Jesus, according to Matthew's Gospel, believed that God'skingdom would be established on earth within a generation. Itdidn't happen. So was Jesus mistaken? Or what might Jesus havemeant?
Previous Page Saturday 16 September 2017
Next Page Monday 04 September 2017