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April 25, 2018

2 Peter 1:13-21

13 And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live. 14 For our Lord Jesus Christ has shown me that I must soon leave this earthly life, 15 so I will work hard to make sure you always remember these things after I am gone.16 For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes 17 when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”18 We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.

19 Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, 21 or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.

CONSIDER THIS

It was during breakfast on the beach when Jesus forgave Peter for cursing his name, denying him, and running to hide. Three times Jesus asked, “Do you love me?” Three times Peter said yes. 

Then Jesus gave him his calling: “Feed my sheep,” and in that moment, Peter began the move from amateur to pro… from bonehead Peter to Saint Peter.  

Then Jesus said:

“I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me” (John 21:18-19).

Now that moment has arrived: “For our Lord Jesus Christ has shown me that I must soon leave this earthly life,” Peter says, “so I will work hard to make sure you always remember these things after I am gone.”

In his last letter, Peter is making sure to keep feeding the Lord’s sheep, even after his life ends. And of all the stories Peter could tell for the last time, he choses the one about Jesus’ Transfiguration.

The one where Peter wakes up on the side of a mountain and sees Jesus, shining bright in all his heavenly glory, talking with Moses and Elijah. Peter thinks this is the best thing ever and doesn’t want it to end, so he shouts out that they should stay and build three hillside homes for each of them. 

But before he can finish, God cuts him off. As Peter says in this last letter, “The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, ‘This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.’”

Do you remember where in the plot this story happens? The Transfiguration is right after Peter declares Jesus is the Messiah, and so Jesus changes Peter’s name, declaring Peter will lead his church. Then Jesus says he must suffer and die, and Peter essentially says, “Nope. Not going to let it happen.” 

And Jesus responds, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it” (Matthew 16:24-25). 

Take up your cross, and follow me. 

Of course this is the story Peter tells before his death, and he is not going to be a martyr for something that isn’t true.

“Because of that experience,” Peter writes, “we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets.” 

Moses and Elijah. One representing the law, the other prophets. They’re with Jesus on the mountain because all the law and the prophets pointed to him.

Take up your cross, and follow me.

So Peter followed Jesus, in the end by literally taking up his cross: Tradition says Peter was crucified upside down. 

Take up your cross, and follow me.

So what is Peter working so hard to make sure we always remember?  

That, as Bonhoeffer said, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

To be continued…

THE PRAYER

Heavenly Father, I try so hard to hang on to my own life on my own terms. I admit it’s hard to let go. But fill me with the power of your Holy Spirit, so that I can take up my cross today and follow your Son. And then help me do it again tomorrow. And the day after that. In Jesus name. Amen.

THE QUESTION

In light of today’s text, what does taking up your cross and dying look like for you today? What is the Holy Spirit possibility for you in this? 

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Omar Rikabi is a United Methodist Pastor serving in North Texas. When not telling stories, Omar likes to watch movies with his wife Jennifer, read books with his three daughters, and work in the kitchen cooking and grilling for family and friends. You follow him on Twitter @omarrikabi or visit his blog omarrikabi.com

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