Jesus’ suffering and death are necessary in order for him to rise again. This is hard news. At the time that Peter hears this pattern, no one has ever risen from the dead. It’s not surprising that Peter has set his mind on human things rather than divine things. We, as church, are called to think in divine terms as best we can, based upon what has been revealed to us. We should expect the pattern of our lives, as church, to follow the pattern of Jesus’ paradoxical life.
Jesus’ paradoxical life is summarized as denying his individual rights, taking up a cross, dying, and then rising to new life for the sake of others. Denial of oneself means giving up thinking in terms of ‘me’ and my rights, of cooperating with a culture that promotes the individual over the community. We, as church, are called to take up what the world sees as death to self in order to follow Jesus into a kingdom that offers new life, real life. What does it look like for us, as church, to deny the drive toward individualism in order to live as a community focused on following Jesus?
The paradox is that only by dying, by losing his life, is Jesus able to rise to new life. Only by dying and rising is Jesus able to offer up his life for us that we might live. This is part of the mystery of the eucharist. Jesus’ body is broken and his blood is poured out for our sake, that through his death and resurrection, we are made alive. Those who seek to save their lives lose them but those who are willing to lose their lives by following Jesus find their lives. The eucharist that we celebrate together is both the model of community life and the means by which we are enabled to live this paradoxical, communal life. When we eat this sacred meal together, we participate in Jesus’ death, life, and resurrection. What does it look like for us, as church, to live eucharistically and be poured out for the sake of others?
Jesus gives us two options in this passage. We can follow him and live counter-culturally, being willing to follow him through a path of suffering and self-denial as we struggle to live as community under God’s rule. This eucharistic path leads to death first and then to life. Or we can deny him and live according to the way of the world, climbing over each other for whatever goal we think will gain the world’s approval. This way feels like gaining the world but ultimately leads to losing everything, even life itself. Jesus’ paradoxical pattern tells us that only by dying to self are we able to return to life in community under God’s rule. Jesus’ broken body has become the bread of heaven and his blood poured out for our sake has become the cup of salvation. What do we, as church, need to focus on doing more intentionally in order to clearly demonstrate that we follow Jesus and are becoming the body and blood of Christ that we see, eat, and drink at this common meal that we call the eucharist?
<p>© 2015 Donna R. Hawk-Reinhard, All Rights Reserved <p>