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16 Pentecost - Mark 8:27-38

There's a line missing in the gospel.

After Peter names Jesus the Messiah, the stunned silence is broken by the disciple whom the Father loved, Inigo Montoya.

(Because I have a wedding to officiate right after this, I've been reviewing The Princess Bride.)

When Inigo heard Peter say Messiah, he responded, You keep using that word.

I do not think it means what you think it means.

Jesus nodded, then gave them all a gag order.

Then, Mark writes, he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected...and be killed.

Not only does he silence the Messiah talk, he changes the title to Son of Man...or as Ched Myers renders it, the Human One.

Humans die.

This one, who is also the Messiah, must die soon and young and brutally.

Inconceivable! Peter thunders.

God's Messiah is the one anointed to recall Rome and restore Israel to power and glory.

He can't let the corrupt politicians bully and murder him like some common criminal.

He can't be so vulnerable, so disgraced, so weak, so worthless.

Peter knows who and what the Messiah is supposed to be and this garbage ain't it.

But Messiah does not mean what he thinks it means.


Twenty years ago, churches were packed with people wondering where God was.

Many didn't like the answer enough to return.

God was searching the rubble, racing up collapsing stairs, weeping over smoking remains,

cradling corpses, and lying still beneath all the steel and stones.

Many people in a desperate search for Peter's kind of superhero God are disappointed in such a human one.

Robert Capon writes:

The human race is, was, and probably always will be deeply unwilling to accept a

human messiah.

We don't want to be saved in our humanity; we want to be fished out of it...

Our kind of Messiah would come down from the cross...

He wouldn't do a stupid thing like rising from the dead.

He would do a smart thing like never dying.

But first, he does another stupid, inconceivable thing.

He invites us to join him.

Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.

Come with me and lose it all.

The cross is where ego and entitlement and security and good health and reputation and money and status and every last favorite false god of ours goes to die, alongside the real One.

The human one.

The inconceivable God conceived by Mary, with strength enough to be utterly weak, with courage enough to be crucified, with love and loyalty enough to meet and save humanity in death because we reject and refuse him in life.

The good news is, humans die.

When we are left with nothing else, when all our messianic fantasies and survival schemes collapse, faith, hope, and love abide, these three, and the greatest of these is love.

We are only at the terrible beginning of the teaching.

To keep going, keep in mind the ending...and after three days rise again.

Death cannot stop true love.

All it can do is delay it for a while.

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