Matthew 16:21-22 “From then on Jesus began to clearly reveal to his disciples that he was destined to go to Jerusalem to SUFFER INJUSTICE from the elders, leading priests and religious scholars. He also explained that he would be killed and then three days later be raised to life again. Peter took him in hand, protesting ‘ Impossible master, that can never be!’ “
Such a strange verse to start this series off with don’t you think? As we begin this season of Lent – 6 weeks looooonnnnnnngggggg…. why am I starting here ? I’ve got plenty of time to cover the hard realities of Jesus death and resurrection – why couldn’t I start this series with something more fun – like the time he said YES to turning water in to wine at a wedding?? so much more celebratory!
The reason I’m starting here… is because if I don’t … I may never.
I’m a master at the art of re-framing. Give me any hard, negative, sad, obstacle of life and I can find a way to make it better – sweeter if you will. I have Mary Poppins like skills in delivering the medicine – you just need a big ole dose of sugar. Some say I’m the eternal optimist. Pain, challenges and conflict make me incredibly uncomfortable so if I can paint a rosier picture I feel I have made the world a better place… at least in my own my mind.
Almost 50 years of life has taught me this isn’t the healthiest way to live. You see my ability to ‘turn a frown upside down’ has landed me in the unfortunate position of needing to deal with mountains that would have stayed molehills if I faced the truth of the situation earlier. You name it – I can deny pain… my health, finances, relationships, rattles in the car…. Yep I’m a master.
And today Jesus says – it’s time to stop.
In Chapter 16 of Matthew Jesus gets clear, crystal clear with his disciples. I imagine him unblinkingly looking them each in the eye, no waver to his voice speaking the simple truth about his purpose for living. His most important act to come was not the life he would keep living but the death he would be dying. He would SUFFER INJUSTICE at the hands of the religious leaders??!! He knew his people needed to hear this from his mouth. Pretending like he would fulfill his purpose in the way they hoped (an earthly king, brining earthly peace) would do them a huge disservice. Just like starting our lenten series without calling out the elephant in the room would be a disservice to you and to me. From the start – I have to remember that Jesus was born to die. It would be brutal. It would be ugly. It would be unfair. It would be because of me and my sin. ouch. Nothing sweet about this story.
I have to wonder if Jesus straight talk was also for himself. Did his human flesh need the accountability of his reality with those he loved most? Did speaking it out loud not only clarify for his followers but his human heart his reason for coming to earth to walk with men? If Jesus needed straight talk to himself.. then certainly so do I.
Jesus show us the areas of our hearts that are coated in the sugar of denial because the “thing” feels too hard or too painful to address. Remind us that there is nothing too big for us to bring to the foot of your cross. Amen
Loving you where you are and pointing you forward to where He is,