Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. (John 12:24)
Jesus Christ, Our Lord, is always compassionate and full of love to all who come to Him. When Jesus was on the earth, He proclaimed the coming of the Kingdom of God, and distributed His peace to those who came and listened to Him. Jesus also traveled throughout the region of Galilee, and visited the synagogues. He announced the Good News. Whenever he saw the sick, he healed them to release them from every kind of disease and illness.
Those who were flocking to Him were poor in heart. Many of them who gathered around Him hungered and thirsted for righteousness. They heard, and saw Jesus Christ, and Jesus abundantly pouring out Heavenly peace on them. They were comforted by the message of Jesus and received peace in their hearts. Their hunger was filled and their thirst was satisfied. The earthly sufferings were so server, with Jesus they could find peace. Before Jesus, all of earthly pains went away, and blessings of God filled their hearts. They felted the kingdom of heaven even on earth through Jesus. They also could fill the presence of the loving God, the One and Only One True Heavenly Father with full of compassion.
The people who were hearing Jesus were fixated to Jesus not just because of His blessed message, but the grace and mercy radiating from Jesus Himself. They carefully watched Jesus and especially His mouth, the very source of proclaiming God’s kingdom and His blessings. Their hearts were fully satisfied, but the sun was getting low. They were with Jesus all day long. Jesus knew it was a long day for them, and out of His compassion, Jesus told to His disciples,
“I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will faint along the way. For some of them have come a long distance.” (Mark 8 2-3)
Then Jesus asked, “How much bread do you have?”
“Seven loaves,” they replied.
So Jesus told all the people to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves, thanked God for them, and broke them into pieces. Yes, Jesus gave thanks to God first. Then Jesus gave them to his disciples, who distributed the bread to the crowd. A few small fish were found, too, so Jesus also blessed these and told the disciples to distribute them.
They ate as much as they wanted. Afterward, the disciples picked up seven large baskets of leftover food. There were about 4,000 men in the crowd that day. They were completely filled both physically and spiritually. Jesus sent them home, and they joyfully returned to home. Jesus and His disciples also left the place, where the blessed message was proclaimed.
When Jesus and His disciples arrived at Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to Jesus, and they begged him to touch the man and heal him. Full of mercy and love, Jesus heard the voice of those how brough the blind man to Him. Jesus, then, lovingly looked at the blind man. Jesus heart was again filled with compassion on the blind man. Jesus saw the heart of the blind man suffering and his yearning for his own sight to see the world around him like others.
Whenever he overheard talks of the others, he was hurt because he could not see what the others talked about. He endured. But each time his patience was worn out. Eventually, he felt he was pushed to limit because his patience became as thine as paper. He was on the edge, and he was in fear of losing his patience all together. A fear fell on him. He had no idea what would happen when he completely exhausted all his patience, which made him more depressed. Out of his depression and pain, he shouted, but he could not vocalize. He shouted but silently in his heart instead. He protested against the cold truth, but it was of no use. His blindness would be with him forever. “What a miserable life it is,” he always recited this in his heart. Even so, he had never shared this pain of his heart with anyone. He knew verbalizing the misery would only hurt him more because he would hear his own heart in misery. By the way, he always hid his inner struggle and misery, but he could not completely block. His face was always and subtly telegraphing this misery silently and steadily. Jesus, the Son of God, noticed the blind’s heartbreaking misery. Jesus immediately became sympathetic about the blind man’s misfortune and the internal struggle. Jesus was able to hear the screaming in his heart, although his mouth was shut.
Jesus stood silently before the blind man. Jesus intently looked at the blind man. The people around Jesus’s supernatural compassion radiating from His loving face. Soon they could see Jesus, who was stretching out His loving hand to the blind man. While gazing at him with His loving eyes, Jesus took him by the hand. He poured out His mercy and compassion on him, and most of all Jesus gave the precious sight that the blind man wanted so long time. Immediately, the blind man’s sight was completely restored. Suddenly, everything came clearly into the eyes of the blind mand. It was the moment that the one and only one prayer of the blind man came true. Jesus answered his prayer, and he tasted His mercy and love at the spot.
The disciples of Jesus were once again amazed at Jesus who performed another miracle. Then they all talked about Jesus’ miracles. As Jesus and the disciples were walking alone, Jesus asked them,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13b)
Upon hearing the question, they looked each other. “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other prophets.” They just listed out what they were told so far.
Jesus nodded. Then he paused a brief moment. Jesus looked around His disciples one by one. Jesus asked them,
“But who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15b)
This question made them silent because they had never thought about who Jesus really was. The silence continued for a while. Nobody even dared to make an attempt to answer the question. Then Peter turned his head and looked at Jesus. Peter broke the silence by proclaiming,
You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16b)
Then Jesus replied,
“You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.” (Matthew 16:17b)
Yes, it is true. The wisdom of Peter did not come from his own knowledge, but it came from God, the Father. In other words, it was God who made Peter know the precious truth, and it was only possible through the power of the God. Upon hearing the Peter’s answer, Jesus was really pleased. Jesus also sternly warned the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. However, the disciples including Peter did not fully understand what was told by Peter. They were still babies spiritually, and did not fully understand the meaning of the true Messiah.
From then on Jesus began to tell His disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that He would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law.
He would be killed, but on the third day He would be raised from the dead. (Matthew 16:21 b)
All of the disciples could not believe what they were told by Jesus. They followed Jesus because Jesus was the most powerful prophet ever for their own eyes. John the Baptist Elijah were the most famous prophets at that time, but they felt that neither of them was even close to Jesus because they saw miracles performed by Jesus. Jesus turned water into wine. It was the first miracle that Jesus performed. After this miracle, Jesus performed countlessly many miracles: He walked on water. He fed 5,000 and 4,000 people with a few bread pieces and fish, respectively. He healed the sick: The blind could see, and the lame could walk, and the mute could speak. Jesus even raised a person from dead which was never heard of before. Jesus also silenced Pharisees, teachers of the Law, scribes whom they believed they were the most knowledgeable teachers about God at that time. Most importantly, they heard the most blessed messages of the kingdom of God many times. All touched the very center of their hearts. His teaching was not like teachings of the others at that time. Therefore, whenever they suffered from the oppression of the Romans, they remember Jesus, and believed Jesus who would save from the Romans because they saw the miracles and His power. They were all convinced Jesus was the true Messiah who would bring independence from the Romans.
Jesus’ remark confused all of the disciples. They could not believe what they were hearing. If what they heard was correct, then there was no more hope. If Jesus, whom they thought that He was the Messiah, would not liberate them, who would save them from the Romans? Jesus said he would be even killed. Then he would be raised again from death. They were completely confused. They also about to lose their interest to follow Jesus because Jesus was not the one whom they had been waiting for. They initially thought that they would go up with Jesus to Jerusalem. Jesus, then, would liberate them from the Romans, and along with Jesus, they would be also respected by their fellow Jewish people as Jesus’ disciples.
Peter could not be silent any more. Peter took Jesus aside and began to reprimand Him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!” Peter thought that Jesus was somehow crazy and He was about to be astray from the true mission that Jesus was born for. Peter clearly knew the entire nation had hope in Jesus as the one who would saved the nation from the Romans. The time of the liberation was so close, but at the 11th hour, Jesus was telling something completely nonsense. The rest of the disciples were quietly heard and nodded.
However, Jesus’ response was completely unexpected. Jesus turned to Peter and said,
“Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” (Matthew 16:23b)
Jesus raised His voice while calling Peter “Satan.” Then Jesus characterized Peter as a dangerous trap to Him. They had seldom heard such a strong and condemning voice from Jesus. What was wrong? Nothing was wrong with Jesus. Jesus sternly blocked all Satan’s temptations. Satan tempted once before, but Jesus resisted all temptations with God’s Word although He was extremely weak physically after 40 days and nights fasting. Then Satan left Jesus, but Satan had never given up. Satan always looked for an opportunity to tempt Jesus. Satan chose Peter just before Jesus’ walk toward cross to Jerusalem. Satan picked the best and closest disciple, Peter to tempt Jesus. Jesus resisted again.
Jesus came to this world to save for us by giving Him as a perfect sacrifice for all our sins. Jesus knew the cross was waiting for Him to put Him to death. However, Jesus endured all things in His joy while looking at the salvation to come to all. Jesus disregard all of the shame, agony and even death on cross with only one goal – saving us by bleeding and dying on the cross for our sins as the perfect sacrifice. Yes, it was His holy mission on earth. Our Lord, Jesus came to this world not to be served as a king, but to serve other and to give his life as a ransom for many.
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
His curse on cross is our blessing, and his death becomes life on everyone who believe in Him as one’s own savior. Thus, we give thanks to Him, who gave Himself as ransom for each one’s sins and transgression. We should have been perished with our own sins, but Jesus, who had no sin at all, died on cross. It was the Love, which is bigger, higher and wider tha anything else that ever existed, is existing, and will exist. Thus, we all can securely lean on Jesus regardless whatever we did in our lives. Jesus, Our Lord, is always waiting for us with His open arms to embrace each of us in His bosom and forgive all our sins as we open our hearts and place all our sins before His cross. This is the saving truth.
Then what should we do? Especially, in this Lenten season? Shouldn’t we remember what Jesus did for us and follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ by carrying our own cross?
Then, calling the crowd to join His disciples, Jesus said,
“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 and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. (Mark 8:34-35)