Today's Lectionary Text
Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.”
Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
“Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”
Have you had the experience of expecting something important to happen in a certain way, and it happened in a very different way, didn’t happen at all, or exactly the opposite happened? This passage reflects that.
When Jesus asked who the disciples thought he was, Peter rightly said, “The Messiah.” Jesus then told them how he must suffer and die. Since the Messiah was to be a conquering king like David and was to live and reign forever, Jesus’ words crushed the disciples’ expectations. This was not how things were supposed to go.
What the disciples failed to see was God’s bigger plan. They failed to consider God’s life-giving and re-creative power.
I’ve had similar experiences of expecting God to carry my journey forward in a particular way. Circumstances resulted in my expectations being unmet or even destroyed. Very distressing! God then led me in a completely different or even opposite direction.
One such experience was my marriage. It was supposed to be forever with 2½ kids, a dog and a house with a white picket fence. But life happened and while I wanted to work things out, my spouse did not. My plans, my expectations… my world was destroyed. I was set adrift questioning my life and God.
Yet through this soul-crushing event, God’s greater plan took shape. God poured life-giving and re-creating power into my life and restored me from my brokenness. God gave me hope and purpose, allowing me to see a new way which was even more purposeful and life-affirming than what my original plan would have yielded.
Because I made the decision to go with God’s bigger plan, God opened new doors, brought me life where there was death and began anew a Holy work within and through me when everything appeared to be incurably broken. So, if you find your hopes and expectations have been crushed, I encourage you with this:
God has a bigger plan for you than you could ever dream. God’s life-giving power will grow new life where you now feel dead inside. God’s re-creative power will make new within you that which is broken and destroyed. God loves you and is 100 percent on your side. God WILL see you through!
Prayer for Reflection
God who gives us new life, recreates that which is broken and surpasses all our expectations, fill us anew with your Holy Spirit. Open our eyes to new avenues of expressing love to you and to others. Spring forth life where we experience death. Create something new where we experience brokenness. Do your holy work within us and through us, that others may experience your life-giving, re-creating love; through Jesus who gives us everlasting life amidst shattered expectations. Amen.
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