Lectionary Year A
September 1, 2002
Matthew 16:21-28

Hermeneutical Bridge


The center of gravity might be at the end of the 25th verse. It declares that those who lose their lives for Jesus’ sake will find what I think He means REAL life, life in the faith, life saved by Christ. Other similarly major concerns of this pericope must include Jesus’ predicting His death and Peter’s objection. Next, perhaps, comes the coming in glory of Christ to repay everyone for what has been done. That which will have been done includes His dying for us. Then, the binding and loosing on earth and in heaven. Then, we cite the setting minds on divine things more than on human things. That element includes self-denying and cross carrying for following Jesus. Finally, we get to the bystanders who will live long enough to witness the coming of Jesus in His Kingdom.


21 From then (Peter’s confession) Jesus began to explain how He would have to go to Jerusalem and suffer much at the hands of the elders (there), the chief priests and the scribes and that He would be put to death and on the third day be raised. 22 Peter took Him aside and began to object, saying. “God forbid, Lord. Such a thing must not happen to You.” 23 But that [statement] turned Jesus around and He said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan; you are a stumbling block to Me, for you are thinking [about these sorts of things] not like God but rather [too much] like humans.
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Whoever is willing to be My disciple must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me. 25 Whoever tries to save his own life will lose it, but whoever would sacrifice his life for My sake, will find Life. 26 For what could it profit you if you gained the whole world and forfeited your life? And, what could you give in exchange for your life? 27 The Son of Man will be brought [back] in God’s glory with God’s angels. Then He will provide for everyone by His deeds. 28 Truly I say to you that some standing here will not taste death until the Son of Man returns in His Kingdom.


People today facing the imminent death of a loved one might be in denial over its coming. The disciples, or, at least, Peter, tended to want Jesus to live an earthly life immortally. When Jesus told them of His impending suffering and death, they wanted to delay and/or deny it. Seems natural. Yet, when Jesus insisted He would suffer and die, He immediately sought to give the disciples some faith data with which to face His death and theirs, too, for that matter. People today live in a dream world. We have it entirely too easy and too good to be bothered with death, ours and/or others. We need this text’s Reality Check, regarding death and resurrection. Jesus gives us some insight into how divine thoughts might consider death, His and ours, I presume. If a recent review in Time magazine is right, the animated feature movie, “The Iron Giant” might stimulate some popular movie goers, even kids to discuss subjects that matter such as life, death, etc. This passage and Jesus’ dealing with such topics might help to do so, too.

Used by permission from Lectionary Tales for the Pulpit by Merle G. Franke.

Get A Life!

      No none could accuse Arnold of being lazy. The small business which he had founded and nourished provided him and his family with a comfortable living. Growing up in poverty had hardened his resolve that his family would have the best of everything that money could buy. And now he was fulfilling that promise.

      But his long-time friend Eric was not so sure Arnold was getting his money's worth for all the work he was doing. On one of the rare times they were able to meet for a casual conversation Eric again broached the subject of Arnold's way of life. "You're working 75 to 80 hours a week, Arnie. Where is it going to end?"

      Arnold sipped his beer but was also working on some figures on a napkin. "Why should it end at all?" he asked, not really expecting an answer.

      "Because your life might end - much too soon, if you keep up this pace," Eric responded. "Look at you! You can't even have a relaxing beer with me without bringing some of your work along." He playfully grabbed the napkin on which Arnold was scribbling and said, "Now, just for a few minutes, see if you can talk and relax without working."

      "Listen," Arnold began as he put his pen back into his coat pocket. "I made a vow I was not going to let my kids ..." but he was interrupted by Eric.

      "Oh yes, I know, you've told me a dozen times about your poor background and your resolve to get out of the poverty cycle. But look at you! You're wealthy, you've accumulated more than you and your family will ever need. Why do you keep on?"

      "My kids..." Arnold began, but was again interrupted.

      "I'm surprised you had time to have three kids, you devote so much energy and time to your work," Eric commented.

      "Well, my kids are important to me," Arnold said softly.

      "I'm sure they are," Eric said seriously, "but what do you do with them? Do they know you, other than as someone who provides them with all the material things they could ever need? And Helen, what about her? Do the two of you ever go out and have a good time?"

      Arnold didn't respond for a moment. He glanced at his watch a few times, signalling that he would have to leave soon. "She says I'm a good provider," Arnold finally said.

      "Oh swell!" Eric replied. "A provider of what? Things, possessions, house car, boat - which you never use? You can provide all the things the world has to offer. What you need to provide is your life. That's what Helen and your kids need. They don't need all this junk you're providing for them." It was as harshly as Eric had spoken to his friend in a long time. He thought for a moment it might hav been too harsh. "I'm sorry, Arnold, that might have been a bit stiff. Let's go. I'm going home and cook some hamburgers on the grill."

      "I wonder if I still know how to do that?" Arnold asked grimly.

      "Go home and try it," Eric suggested. Then as he playfully poked his friend, he warned, "Be careful, it might be too much of a shock for Helen if you get home in time for dinner."

      Arnold smiled and said, "Thanks for the straight talk."

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