Good Tuesday, Y’all! Can you believe that May is more than half passed? For those of us who live in the northern hemisphere, summer is almost upon us and winter is descending for those who live south of the equator. Even in the transitional rhythms of the earth, sun, & moon, God reminds us that we too are called to move forward in growth and transformation.
Jesus tells Peter that he will be the rock on which Jesus will bring about The Church – not a building but the everlasting community of people1 who love God and follow Jesus. We think of rocks as permanent but if you’ve ever studied even the basics of geology you know they are not. And if we look at Peter’s behavior and words following Jesus’ declaration, we see that Peter was not the permanent, fixed, stalwart of perfection that we’ve somehow morphed the idea of Peter the Rock into.
Immediately after Jesus’ declaration of what must happen, Peter attempts to correct Jesus by telling Jesus that he (Jesus) will never suffer and die. Jesus not so gently reminds Peter of his purpose by saying “get behind me.” Peter momentarily had stepped out from following Jesus and was trying to lead Jesus to a different way.
At the last meal Jesus has with the disciples before his arrest and crucifixion, Peter swears he will never deny knowing Jesus. And yet, even before the three times Peter was directly asked if he knows Jesus and he says ‘no’, Peter again steps out from following Jesus and returns to his own way. In the garden where Jesus asks the disciples to keep vigil with him while he prays, Peter falls asleep. As the soldiers come to arrest Jesus, Peter attempts to defend him with a sword.
Peter, the rock on which Jesus promises to shape his community of followers is more like Talc than Granite. Peter is as human as the rest of us and it is about his humanness that Jesus says, “let me tell you who you really are.”
Who we really are are image bearers of God. Who we really are are God’s beloved children. Who we really are are citizens of God’s Kingdom. Who we really are is the community of people God chooses to work through in this world with our faults and foibles, bringing all things together for good, on earth as it is in heaven.
Following Jesus isn’t about being perfect it is about being the human beings God created us to be. It is about staying behind Jesus, trusting and believing that Love is the most powerful thing in all of God’s creation.
Jesus chooses Peter to illustrate how Jesus’ Church, Jesus’ Everlasting Community, is good and holy because God makes it so, not because we do. In choosing Peter, Jesus says “I choose everyone who desires to follow me, moving forward in growth and transformation through the rhythms of this life created and given by God.”
Following Jesus is finding who we really are in God’s love for us.
1This is one of only two times Jesus uses the word we translate into english as ‘church’. The more common use of the word that Jesus used was ‘community’.