Season After Pentecost (Proper 19[24]) – The Gospel Passage: The Retaining of Wisdom

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.” (Mark 8:27 – 30)

Peter got it right. He saw through all of the “cover stories” of who Jesus was. That is, that Jesus was the return of one of the wise and worthy people from the past. But Peter saw that Jesus was something different – someone that had never been on earth before. It may have been Peter’s own wisdom and insight that told him this. Or it may have been the prompting of the Spirit.

“Then he 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. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” (Verses 31 – 33)

Then Peter got it all wrong. How human! But very forgivable. As humans we “get” things right and wrong. We have the wisdom to understand the insights that the Spirit blesses us with. We study and come to under scripture and theology. We learn about preaching and teaching, counseling and guiding. We learn how to discern the movement of the Spirit, and how to tap into the plans of the Divine. But we also get things wrong. We misinterpret scripture. We pursue ideologies that are not Christian based and are not spiritually authentic. We cause the innocent to “stumble”. We make missteps leading ourselves and others into sin. We both retain and lose Christian wisdom.

“He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?” (Verses 34 – 37)

Christianity can have a very contrary nature – what is lost and let go will be found and returned. Paul says he does those very things he does not want to do, and does not do what he should. How then can we hold on to the right things in this life? How can we retain the wisdom that is given to us by the Spirit? How can we do those things we should, and release the wants, needs, and agenda of that world that just drag us down? The best way, beloved reader, is to remind ourselves often of what Jesus said and did. Peter saw clearly that Jesus was something new and different. But then let old agendas and understandings distort that wisdom. It does not good to hide from the truth as revealed by the Divine. Neither does it do us any good to hold on to false wisdom – what the world tells us is true and authentic.

“Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Verse 38)

I pray beloved reader, for both you and myself, that we may hold on to the wisdom that the Spirit blesses us with and use it daily. Selah!

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