Aloha Friday Message – August 28, 2020 – Kickin’ The Rock

2035AFC082820 – Kickin’ The Rock

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     Matthew 16:21-23 21 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. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “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.”

*Σκάνδαλον (skandalon) {skan’-dal-on} a stick for bait (of a trap), generally a snare,  an offense; a snare, stumbling-block, cause for error. The most common designation is as the trigger of a trap (the mechanism closing a trap down on the unsuspecting victim), and it connotes an offense as in putting a negative cause-and-effect relationship into motion. It is used to illustrate how someone is caught by their own devices (like their personal bias, carnal thinking). It is also the native rock rising up through the earth, which trips up the traveler, hence, of Jesus the Messiah, to the Jews who refused him. Note that this word is also translated as offense or offended – scandalized: Skandalon (↔ Music Link). LYRICS HERE.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Grace and Peace to each of you from God our Father and our Lord, Jesus the Christ, in the Power of the Holy Spirit. Last week we looked at the remarkable moment when the Church was formed as Jesus commissioned Peter to be the Rock on which the Church would be built. He commands that the Disciples not tell anyone that he is the Messiah. But then their world is turned upside down: Jesus begins to tell them that he will die in Jerusalem “at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” We don’t know the time interval between the moment when Jesus appointed Peter as the head of his Church and the moment when Peter took it upon himself to chastise Jesus for saying that he was going to die. Jesus, who has only recently commended Peter for learning from his Heavenly Father that Jesus is the Christ, now turns as tells him, “Get behind me Satan!” Wow! What is that all about, and why was Jesus so cruel to say such a thing? That’s what we need to explore.

Do you recall the first time Jesus said that to someone? We can find that in Matthew 4:8-11 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. To whom was Jesus speaking at that time? Satan, that’s who. I recall a time when someone tried to convince me that it wasn’t actually the Satan, but a high-ranking minion. His argument was that the real Satan would consider himself too important to do “the dirty work” and would give the assignment to a trusted henchman, a minion who would do what he was told. My view is that Satan was indeed so very vain that he tackled the job on his own – “If you want something done right you have to do it yourself.” Satan had to walk away in defeat from that encounter, and the wrath of the Lord was certainly kindled against him in a very confident way. Jesus spoke with the full authority of the Only Begotten Son of God. Was it the same wrath that was directed against Peter? I see it differently; that sharp rebuke was not born of anger, but of pain.

The words are the same, the terms are the same, but the circumstance is different. Jesus knows that Peter will fail him soon, desert him, and misunderstand him. He is still astounded by the lack of faith and understanding in all his Disciples, but for Peter to  miss the point so completely must have been hard for Jesus to hear. It almost sounds as if Jesus is kicking The Rock that will become his Church! “Stop thinking in human terms! Don’t you understand that God has appointed this death to me? How could you even dare try to dissuade me from doing my Father’s Will?!?” This was a repeat of the same temptation Jesus endured in the wilderness, but more of an end run – using someone Jesus genuinely loved and trusted to tempt him to give up on his mission. There was a trap set, and Peter was supposed to be the stick that brought it down. We recall what Symeon told Mary in the Temple: Luke 2:34-35 34 Then Symeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed – and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” The prophecy about the stone the builders rejected becoming a stumbling stone for many was confirmed in that declaration from Symeon. The history of Israel is abounding in examples of stumbling over the Law. We all have a problem at one time or another with getting tripped up, trapped, or stumbling over the smallest thing that makes us doubt our faith. Oh! We of little faith!

Kick a big rock to solve obstacles

Do we, at times, stumble over the Gospel, feel trapped by sin and shame, or try to kick the rock that is firmly planted? We know it’s going to happen; Jesus even told us so in Matthew 18:7 Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes! Why do we stumble over the Gospel, over the salvific power of Christ’s life, passion, death, and resurrection? As we saw last week, he is the Living Stone, the cornerstone of the entire foundation of God’s plan for salvation and restitution of our right relationship with him. The Apostle Paul said in Romans 9:30-33 30 What then are we to say? Gentiles, who did not strive for righteousness, have attained it, that is, righteousness through faith; 31 but Israel, who did strive for the righteousness that is based on the law, did not succeed in fulfilling that law. 32 Why not? Because they did not strive for it on the basis of faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written, “See, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make people stumble, a rock that will make them fall, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” (See Isaiah 28:16) When we stumble, it is the age-old cause of stumbling over God’s provisions for us: Insufficient faith, and the often incomprehensible decision that we can do a better job of salvation than God has done. There, now it’s in front of us in black and white, and doesn’t it look absurd? So what are we to do? To whom can we turn as an exemplar of faith restored and strengthened? How about Peter, The Rock?

Ponder these words of his in 1 Peter 2:4-9 Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood (← Check it out!), to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture: “See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner,” and “A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Where are we most likely to stumble – in the darkness or in the light? John 11:9-10 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. 10 But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” Jesus is the Light of the World, and that Light is in us. When we hide the light, deliberately suppressing our consciences, we walk in darkness. In fact, we are surrounded in every direction by “this present darkness” (See Ephesians 6:12, please), and there humongous consequences for trying to kick the Rock of Ages. Belovéd, we cannot afford to set our “mind not on divine things but on human things.” That’s really like what happens to this little guy. ‘Nuff said!

 ↑ © OmorashiTea, April23, 2020 (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) ↑ 

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever —

at your service, Belovéd!

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

GBA 16 year-old boy in Minnesota who is seriously ill due to kidney failure. A Seminarian there is helping him prepare for Sacraments of Initiation, and requests our prayers for the complete return to health.

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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