Note: Each Thursday, I'll be looking at one of the lectionary passages for the upcoming Sunday. Today, we're looking at Matthew 15:13-20, but we're also going to look at 21-28, which is part of next week's lectionary. That's right, we're going to play by our own rules. Speaking of playing by different rules, this week's reflection is presented as an imagined conversation between Jesus and the disciples about who people say he is today. This will probably be the last time I do this.
Jesus: Alright guys, who do the people say that I am?
Peter: Some say a great moral teacher.
Jesus: Uh, okay.
Andrew: Others say a ticket to heaven.
Jesus: Like a literal ticket?
Andrew: I mean, you're God and stuff, but they kind of boil your importance down to the dying on the cross so that we can go to heaven thing.
Jesus: What about the resurrection? What about the other thirty plus years of my life? What about all my teachings?
Andrew: Oh, they mainly talk about Paul's teachings.
Matthew: You're Paul's set up man!
Jesus: No. I love Paul, but no. What else?
John: A prophet.
James: A fictional character.
James: Some people think we made you up.
Jesus: If you guys made the whole story up, you'd think you would have made yourselves look better.
Peter: Tell me about it.
Philip: Ooh! Some people think you're their homeboy.
Jesus: What does that even mean?
Bartholomew: Some think that you are a meek and mild dude with flowing blond hair who frolics through the fields and just wants everyone to be nice to each other.
Jesus: I like a good frolic and being nice as much as the next guy, but that's ridiculous. Remember the time I turned over those tables at the temple?
John: Yeah, that was awesome.
Thaddaeus: Well, others think you are an angry warrior with a tattoo down your leg ready to decapitate every last sinner at the end of time.
Jesus: So...the complete opposite end of the spectrum.
Simon: Some people think you're white.
Simon: ...And would totally be American if you came here today.
Jesus: Stop. We're done.
Peter: There's at least one more we want to tell you. Others do say that you're the Messiah, the Son of God. But...
Jesus: But what?
Peter: When you asked this question all those years ago, I got the "right answer," but then two minutes later you called me Satan because I said you weren't going to die.
Peter: I didn't totally get what it meant for you to be the Messiah and Son of God. I wanted it to be on my terms; how I envisioned it.
Jesus: And you learned that God's Kingdom didn't operate the way that the world works.
Peter: Yeah. It took me awhile. And that's the case with pretty much everyone. They have a hard time wrapping their head around what the Kingdom of God is like. Even the people that say you are the Messiah or the Son of God believe some of this other stuff we mentioned. Everybody has their own ideas about how you're supposed to work.
I do this. I think that we all do. We have a difficult time getting rid of our preconceived notions of how God should work. I take some comfort in the fact that this attitude happened with Jesus' closest friends as well. Jesus does not seem to expect us to have it all figured out before we can follow him. Lucky for us.
At the same time, I realize that there has to be a transformation in the way that I follow God; a humility. Appropriately enough, one of the other lectionary passages this week is Romans 12:1-8, of which this is verse two:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God--what is good and acceptable and perfect.
May God help us change our minds about how we think things should work and may we--even if it is ever so slowly--see who Jesus is so that we may follow in his way.