Reflections: June 29, 2021
St. Peter and St. Paul, Apostles
By Harrison Goodman
Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matthew 16:16)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Who do you say that the Son of man is? We're still asking the same question. We're past the days when people haven't heard the name Jesus, but if you listen, you will hear that we all seem to be talking about someone different.
Who do people say that the Son of man is? Some go for the high road and say He is just the example. He's the guy you follow when you feel bad about being bad. He helps you behave better until you don't want to be bad anymore. But most of the time He just ends up being the guy used to bash you over the head when you don't do what someone else wants you to.
Some go for the low road and say He is a bigot. That He calls people sinners in a hate-filled book which does nothing but set the scene for hate crimes in the name of religion. Bigot-Jesus picks the sinners who sin differently than I do and says there's no forgiveness for them until they change, never mind that I've been here confessing the same sins week after week for years.
Have you noticed a common theme yet? Grab hold of the Law, ignore the Gospel completely, then weaponize religion. It's what the people wanted from Elijah. It's what they wanted from John the Baptist and Jeremiah, who were ridiculed and hated by the world and the religious alike, not because they were wrong, but because they called everyone to seek mercy in the Lord, who not only calls sin wrong, but loves sinners enough to forgive them.
But who do you say the Son of man is? This is not a "What does Jesus mean to you?" essay. That's where all of those other ideas went wrong. Not one is a confession of who God is, just speeches about how we'd use Him. You can try to use the Law, but you can only receive the Gospel. "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
It makes it look like everyone who hates Him was right all along. Yours is a God who bleeds. Yet He did it for them, and for you. He did it to forgive every standard you fell short of. Every demand of the Law. He died for every sinner who is sinking in despair and hate and pain. He did not wield a weapon, but took up a Cross. He did not come bearing only Law, but brought with it the Gospel. Yours is the God who gives mercy. Yours is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and you have life in His Name. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
O love, how deep, how broad, how high, Beyond all thought and fantasy, That God, the Son of God, should take Our mortal form for mortals' sake! ("O Love, How Deep" LSB 544, st.1)
-Rev. Harrison Goodman is the pastor of Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in San Antonio, TX.
He is also the content executive for Higher Things.
He is also the content executive for Higher Things.
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