Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

On the Way to the Cross 5

I apologize for last week’s omission of our development of the characters of Peter and Mary when it comes to a crucified Messiah. We were in Seattle, got home late, and it didn’t even cross my mind. But, we’re back — Mary’s at the Cross, Peter has skipped away. The rugged reality confronts both of them and the meaning of “Messiah” will never be the same.
Let this be clear first and foremost: no one embraces the cross naturally. Not the mother of Jesus and not the principal apostle.
Peter, whose story is so well known, is interrogated or at least questioned within earshot of Jesus during his ordeal — and Peter claims he’s never heard of Jesus and, in spite of his Galilean accent, he cannot be connected to Jesus. Why? He’s afraid of the cross as an instrument of death that could engulf his own life. He knows what it would mean to say, “Yes, I know him; and I happen to love him and follow him.” It means that Peter, too, would bear the cross. Peter gets this one opportunity and he fails … miserably … sadly … and the event will mark Peter.
The cross scares because a life of following Jesus can involve dying with Jesus.
Mary is there … and that’s about all we know. Mark 15 tells us that the women who were around her — Salome (her sister), Mary of Clopas and Mary of Magdala — were followers of Jesus and that they provided for Jesus. We can assume these are not onlookers, but genuine followers who are close enough to Jesus to see the cross, his pain, and his death. They watch it.
What did Mary think of it all? We don’t know, but what we do know is that what she thought would happen — her son being the Davidic Messianic king who would establish that final dynasty — just never quite happened as she thought it might. She had to learn that the Messiah would be a sword who would pierce her soul (Simeon), that her Son had a relationship to a Father that transcended his relationship to Mary, that he would do things in God’s own time, and that the true “dynasty” was actually a clutch of those who sat with Jesus, encircled him and listened to his teachings — and then practiced them.
The Gospels leave us wondering about both Peter and Mary — what would become of them? … and many are left wondering today about the sense the cross has when they see its utter reality.

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posted April 1, 2007 at 7:23 am

Just curious about Peter, and this one off the post, but Rob Bell contends that Peter was the oldest of the disciples, probably in his late teens maybe 20. One of the pieces of evidence he points to is the fact that only he and Jesus had to pay the temple tax. He says the others were not old enough yet. What dost thou thinkest?

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Scot McKnight

posted April 1, 2007 at 8:09 am

A possibility Kent, but I think I’d want more than an inference from the Temple Tax. I would think anyone who was the “head of the household” would have to pay that tax, not just the eldest.

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posted April 1, 2007 at 4:34 pm

Thanks for this, Scot.
It is really something to be as afraid as Peter was. I wonder if he wondered, as I do (and I am sure others, as well), that it wouldn’t serve God’s purpose for the whole crew to die right out front…but I am reminded that we just can’t see the whole picture. And God is more than able to protect his own. Perhaps Peter would not have been crucified…we will never know. What we do know is that he had the chance to be a stand-up guy for Jesus and he wasn’t up to the task…on that day. And, yet, when his day came…when it WAS his time…he came through with flying colors, praise God. I pray that the same may be said of me when my time comes….

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posted April 2, 2007 at 9:05 am

what she thought would happen — her son being the Davidic Messianic king who would establish that final dynasty
It amazes me that so many who heard his teaching from his own mouth still did not understand his mission.
As for Peter, well, perhaps his denial happened in order to become a lesson for the rest of us.
Although I often say about us American Christians–what do we have to be afraid of? How hard is it to be unafraid for Christ in our society? I mean, ridicule is not exactly torture and death, you know?

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Ted Gossard

posted April 4, 2007 at 4:08 am

“Let this be clear first and foremost: no one embraces the cross naturally. Not the mother of Jesus and not the principal apostle.”
One of my favorite scenes (among others) in “The Passion of the Christ” is when Jesus embraces the cross! This didn’t even come easily for him (Gethsemane and before that). How much more true for ourselves.
Thanks, Scot, for the thoughts on Mary and Peter here. Good to try to see things from their perspective and experience as given to us in Scripture.

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