Saturday, 19 June 2010

Jesus is teaching His disciples

The Gospel of Sunday 18th of June 2010 is taken from the Gospel of Luke (9:18-24). The gospel start with the following scenario. Jesus is praying alone, but it happened that "the disciples were with him;" (Luk 9:18 RSV). Jesus then asks the disciples who the people say He is and the disciples reply. At least two things seem striking in this opening passage. The first is that Jesus is praying alone, but that the disciples are with him, and the second that Jesus asks them who the people say He is.

On the first point, there are different ways of reading this line. It can be taken that Jesus was praying alone, and that this disciples were with Him as read above. This could be an example of praying together in community, and be a model for praying together as for example a family. But because of the use of the middle voice (προσευχόμενον) it seems possible to be taken that the disciples came to Jesus while he was praying alone. In both ways, the fact is that we once more get a little glimpse of the importance of prayer, something Luke makes us often aware of when he mentions Jesus' prayer. It shows the importance of the balance between the outward discourse with the world, when for example Jesus is going around to preach the Good News and is healing the sick, and the inward discourse with God himself, the time when we spent time with God in the inmost parts of our hearts.

Regarding the second point, it seems that the fact that Jesus is asking this question must have a reason. Other passages in the Gospel show clearly that Jesus has divine knowledge of people's thought. An example of this is a line from the Gospel of last week when the Pharisee said to himself "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner." (Luk 7:39 RSV) and we read that "Jesus answering said to him..." (Luk 7:40 RSV). The Pharisee did not utter his thoughts openly, but still Jesus knew what was in his heart. So here Jesus asks the disciples who the people think He is, but surely He already knows.

But putting the two together it is possible to see a model how dialogue with God is often going, and how God can act in our lives and through us in lives of others. From an inward conversation with God flows Jesus' question of who people say He is. An opportunity is given as the disciples approach Him. The moment of prayer and contemplation flows into a moment of an opportunity and of action. Subsequent the question Jesus asks His disciples is in itself not remarkable, and as said, in a way maybe useless if we consider that Jesus already knows the answer. However, we can see that it leads to a deeper understanding, and as such Jesus now gently guides His disciples to the teaching which follows, the teaching that "the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised." (Luk 9:22 RSV) and also that following Him will mean the same for us: "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." (Luk 9:23 RSV)

There is a direct link with the first reading taken from the prophesy of Zechariah where it says "when they look on him whom they have pierced" (Zec 12:10 RSV). Jesus is here preparing His disciples for the moment when this is happening so they can remember that it is all as God has it ordained. He prophesies to them as Zechariah did, that what is in stock is maybe not exactly what they expect from "The Christ of God" (Luk 9:20 RSV).

Finally, an another aspect, the taking up our cross daily also means that Jesus is asking us daily who we say He is. Do we answer with St. Peter "The Christ of God." (Luk 9:20 RSV)? Or is the answer maybe not as complete and do we see Jesus as a good teacher, a prophet or maybe even just a good example? But it is a question that is asked daily of us, and at seems that it is important to at least try to give the right answer and realise that Jesus is our Lord and our God.

1 comment:

evanscove said...

Excellent reflection on the gospel passage. Definitely food for thought. We probably all need to be reminded at times to ask ourselves who Jesus is. During times of doubt and discouragement, I have to keep in mind the price He paid for us and teachings He has commanded us to live by.

Evan

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