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WWPD - What would Peter Do

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='margin:0cm;margin-bottom:.0001pt'>Lord, Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of all our hearts be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer - Amen 

Many of you might be familiar with the slogan - WWJD – What Would Jesus Do

            This popular slogan can been seen from bracelets and bumper-stickers

                        Appeals to this common human trait of empathy

We are encouraged to imagine ourselves in the shoes of Jesus as our model for the behaviour that we are to strive for

But, sometimes, I wonder about how possible this is, maybe Jesus as the model is too difficult,

Maybe putting on the sandals of Jesus might be expecting too much of us

No, the person that I most relate to is – Peter, the lead disciple

            I say the lead disciple for a few reasons

                        There are those that believe that the other disciples were still boys

                                    While Peter was the only adult in the group

Rabbis (teachers) took on disciples (followers - students) as the final stage in their education, after they had done three previous stages of education

                                    And in order that the Rabbi’s teachings would continue on

It was the practice of the Rabbi to have the eldest or the brightest to be first to speak - the one to respond on behalf of the group

                        Peter is the disciple that we hear from the most in the Gospels

Peter and Jesus were the only ones that were considering the need to pay the temple tax - A duty of adults

Peter had a wife and was the main provider for his extended family

                        It was Peter’s mother in law that was healed

                                    And lived together with Peter who was the provider for the whole family

Finally Peter had his own business - he was not merely a fisherman but owned two boats a somewhat wealthy and responsible role of the working class people of the time

But Peter’s role as the lead disciple is not the reason that I relate most to him… No, it is Peter’s humanity

            Peter’s ability to get it right and to get it wrong

                        In Peter we see the ‘triumphs of Faith’ and ‘failures of human weakness’

In today’s gospel we have the most dramatic examples possible from the mouth of Peter


Mark’s Gospel today takes a break from the stories of Jesus power or proofs of who Jesus is

            From the feeding of the 5000, and the 4000, Jesus walking on Water,

       To Jesus Healing the Sick in Gennesaret, the Syrophoenician Woman’s daughter, a Blind Man

Mark takes a break from all of that indirect evidence to share with us the mystery of      Jesus very directly and specifically - The identity of Jesus

To understand Peter’s ups and downs – his humanity we need to extend our reading to understand what happen right before our Gospel reading of the day

It starts out innocently enough

                        Jesus asks the disciples who THE PEOPLE say Jesus is

They (the disciples) answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” (Mark 8:28)

            Then Jesus asks the big question to the disciples - the people that know him the best

                        And if this were a Hollywood movie

-          the surrounding lights would dim                                    

-          and the camera would move from a wide shot to a close up

-          to catch the expression on their faces

-          the music would rise to a crescendo 

“But who do you say that I am?”(Mark 8:29)

And it is Peter that responds …responds in faith

As the spokesperson for the group - maybe

                        But I think speaking out of his own heart…out of his own experiences

                                    Out of his own… faith

                                                Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” (Mark 8:29)


The one that Jews have been waiting for - the focus of scriptures… The Messiah

Peter has got it right - in faith - he answered

This is the moment that if we relate to Peter - as I do - this is the triumphal moment - the highlight of your life

            And Matthew records it much more generously

Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 16:17-19)

Imagine how you might have felt when the Messiah - the hope of the nation, for generations and generations - God in the flesh - Says that to YOU!

But the story continues… continues with our reading today

Then Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. (Mark 8:31-32)

Again if we were watching a movie - I think this is the moment where we would all groan

            Groan at the huge mistake that Peter has just made

                        He has gone from declaring Jesus to be the Messiah - to rebuking Him

                                    In three short verses

                                                Rebuked the Messiah for the message that he is teaching

 33 But turning and looking at his disciples, Jesus rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” (Mark 8:33)

From a blessing to a curse…

Peter moved from - the Rock on which the church is to be built - to Satan

                        Moved there because he didn’t like the message of Jesus

                                    Moved there because he set his mind on human things

                                                Moved there by his own doing – his own tongue

And what was the message of Jesus that Peter had the nerve rebuke

            It is tough message

It is the cost of discipleship

Jesus was speaking of suffering

            This was not the posterity gospel that has become popular in some Christian circles today

                        The notion that all will be well if you just turn your life over to Christ

                                    That you will do better in business

                                                Better in relationships

                                                            You won’t get sick

                                                                        If you do - God will make you all better

All things will go your way if you are right with Jesus

No, Jesus was speaking of the price that was to be paid by Him

            And in extension prophesying for us - as followers

                        That He and we would be rejected by the elders - the cultural leaders

                                    That He and we would suffer…even to the point of death

In rebuking Peter, Jesus went on to explain what followers were to do

            That we are to take up our crosses…that we are not protect even our lives

                        That even all the benefits that this world has to offer are to nothing in comparison

                                    That we are to deny ourselves

                                                That we must not be ashamed of the Good news of Jesus Christ

In rebuking Peter, Jesus went on to say the most difficult thing imaginable

            That we are to become something new - transformed

                        To be a follower we must live, not as we have lived

                                    But to deny ourselves and take up suffering in the name of Jesus

                                                That we are to be willing to lose our worldly life…In exchange for salvation

What are your suffering in the name of Jesus – what is your cross of faith that you bear?

            And Jesus said in the gospel…  Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? (Mark 8:37)

Through-out Scripture we are blessed not with ‘super-humans’ or super apostles

People that are mythical – legendary

There was only one human that represented perfection… and that was Jesus

No, instead mythical people… we are also given real people

            Consider the real people who walked in the presence of our Lord

From Peter - the apostle with the foot shaped mouth

            Or Andrew the apostle of small things and the one that brought others to Jesus

            Or Mary Magadelean the disciple’s disciple – the former prostitute

            Or James the passionate – who wanted a seat on the right hand of Christ

            Or Philip the bean counter and the one that went running to bring his friend Nathanial to the Messiah

Or Nathanial who our Lord identified as a true Israelite because Jesus observed him praying

            Or Matthew the transformed tax collector

            Or Mary and Martha who each choose to serve Jesus in different ways

            Or little James, or Simon the political objector - the Zealot,

            Or Judas the traitor

            Or ones in the crowd that followed Jesus into a deserted place just to hear him speak

            Or one of the 70 disciples that went two by two healing in the name of Christ

            Or one the countless sick that were healed by Jesus because of their belief in Him

We have these examples to teach us to follow - in whatever way we can

            This Lenten season I urge you to find yourself in one of these

                        See yourself in their successes and mistakes

                                    And when we make mistakes

                                                To except rebuking as the Love of God wanting to correct us

-          wanting to continue with us

-          to abide with us                                       

So that we can proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ:

His Earthly ministry…Death …Resurrection …Salvation through Him…That He is the fulfillment of Scriptures…And that he will come again

So that we might not be ashamed of the gospel

            So that in salvation the son of Man will not be ashamed of us

Yes the cost of following Jesus is high

            - It can mean suffering (which you might be experiencing right now)

                        - It is death to some things - it does mean denying ourselves things of this world

BUT…  it is Life eternal in the Lord - Life eternal with the Lord

            Praise be to God that He choose people like Peter, people like me, people like you - Amen

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