JESUS IS A DIFFERENT KIND OF MESSIAH
(A biblical reflection on the 22nd ORDINARY SUNDAY, 3 September 2017)
Gospel Reading: Matthew 16:21-27
First Reading: Jeremiah 20:7-9; Psalms: Psalm 63:32-6,8-9; Second Reading: Romans 12:1-2
The Scripture Text
From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are a hindrance to Me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men.”
Then Jesus told His disciples, “If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me, For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? For the Son of man is to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will repay every man for what he has done. (Matthew 16:21-27 RSV)
Today’s Gospel reading begins with Jesus explaining that He is about to suffer and die. Peter responds much as any of us would in that situation and tells Jesus not even to think that would happen. Peter was probably surprised when Jesus reacted angrily. Why did Jesus object so strongly to Peter’s words? What was wrong with Peter’s response? These are questions we must answer before we can begin to understand today’s Gospel reading.
In last week’s Gospel, Peter was the first to recognize that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus praised him for this insight and said Peter was the rock on which He would build His Church. Now, suddenly, Peter goes from hero to goat. The reason for Peter’s quick fall probably lies in what he meant when he called Jesus the Messiah.
Being a typical Jew, Peter probably thought much like many of the other Jews of his day who were expecting a military and political Messiah who would led them in battle against their enemies and eventually conquer the world. Peter thought it was only a matter of time before Jesus began forming an army to achieve this objective.
Jesus’ talk about suffering and dying did not fit in with the popular beliefs about a triumphant Messiah. Therefore, Peter took Jesus aside and tried to straighten Him out by saying something like, “Teacher, You’ve got it all wrong. You’re the Messiah and the Messiah is a winner. What You’re describing is a loser. So, stop talking about such nonsense.”
It’s obvious that Peter and Jesus had different ideas of what the Messiah was supposed to be. Jesus was the type of Messiah who would not look for success on the battlefield but rather would be triumphant in another way. Instead of defeating human enemies, Jesus was going to conquer both death and the father of death (the devil). This spiritual victory would be more important than any earthly triumph Peter or any of the other Jews could imagine.
Even though the apostles were with Jesus every day and knew Him better that anyone else, they still took time to grasp what He was saying. Their privileged position was not enough to guarantee immediate understanding of who Jesus was and what He was about.
(Source: Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels – Gospel Commentaries for Cycles A, B, and C, page 88-89.)
Short Prayer: Lord Jesus, I bring to you today the situations in which I find it hard to reflect Your will. Put to death any resistance in me to Your ways. I want Your resurrected life in me. Amen.
Jakarta, 2 September 2017
A Christian Pilgrim