A Rock and a Hard Place

A Rock and a Hard Place

I spoke a little about Peter on Sunday morning,
saying he went from “Hero to Zero.”

In the Gospel reading from the previous week,
Jesus is asking about who they think He is,
and Peter’s response was perfect,

But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And 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. 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. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

He is a Hero.

In this week’s Gospel reading,
Jesus is talking about what is up next for him.
Namely being arrested, beaten, killed and then resurrection.
To which Peter responds,

“God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.”

And Jesus puts him in his place,

“Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me;
for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

Now, Peter is a Zero.

How could he be so wrong after being so right?
How could he understand (as much as he could) that Jesus was who Jesus was?
And then, knowing this, interject himself into what should be done.
And be wrong?

Because he is human.
He doesn’t see things the way that God does.
And neither do we.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

When Peter responds correctly to Jesus (and is the hero),
Jesus gives him a name.
The Rock.

To which Jesus further states that on this rock (Petra) I will build my Church.

The rock on which the church is to be built is not Peter.
It is Peter’s statement about Jesus.
He is the Son of the Living God.

Which is why Jesus is so harsh when Peter gets things wrong
and vows to get in the way of the plans of God.

He is saying to Peter,
“How can you believe that I am the Son of the Living God
and then want to tell Me that what I going to do is wrong.”

He calls Peter a stumbling block.
Maybe it would be better to call him a stumbling rock.

As was pointed out to me by Summer Green yesterday after service,
Peter remains a rock.
No matter what he does.

He can be a rock that is foundational to the health and well-being of the Church,
or he could be that thing that gets in the way and causes people to stumble.

Like when he struck the ear off of Malchus.
Or when he denied Christ 3 times.
Or when he told the other disciples that he was going back to fishing.

He was a stumbling block.
In the Greek, a skandalon.
A scandal.

From Merriam-Webster
Scandal: a circumstance or action that offends propriety or established moral conceptions or disgraces those associated with it.

By not remembering what he had stated to Jesus earlier
(that He was the Son of the Living God),
Peter then wandered into a scandal.
He tripped over himself (the rock).
He needed to understand that his actions had consequences.
For himself.
And others.

Again, Peter remains a rock.
No matter what he does.

And so do we.
When we remember that God is watching us
And when we forget God is watching us.

When we remember that God is “looking out” for His people
and is always there to support Kingdom thinking and living.

And when we forget that we are not the ones who bring the plan and the power to the mix; that we have placed our faith in a God that goes before us.

As Paul reminds us,

…for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

Philipians 2:13

The Watching God is with us.
The One who, in the reading from Exodus this week, says

“I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt”

In the midst of whatever we go through.
Whether we remember the things that ground us in this faith
Or we struggle and forget who we are and Who He is,

God is watching.
And with us.




Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *