It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Church Keys, a Reflection on Matthew 16:13-20

Try not to think of all those cartoons you have seen of St. Peter at heaven's gate, letting some in and excluding others. For one thing, Matthew does not restrict the term, heaven, to mean a place somewhere else, at a time only after death. Rather, the kingdom of heaven is a more pious way of saying kingdom of God; that is, a place here and now, where God is in charge.

Peter has the keys; that is, Peter understand and can convey what kingdom life is like, what kingdom residents are like.

Jesus built this church and entrusted Peter with it.

(with thanks once again to Boring & Craddock's The People's New Testament Commentary)

Jesus had called himself the Son of Man (verse 13), but Peter called him the Son of the living God (16). I'm saving discussion of "Son of Man" for another time, and right now looking at the "Son of God" designation. Since Jesus is the Son of God, then God is his father. Jesus assents to this relationship when he says " Father in heaven."  I've been reading Julian Sheffield's essay, "The Father in the Gospel of Matthew," in A Feminist Companion to Matthew, edited by Amy-Jill Levine:

The term, father, is used for God 65 times in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). 44 of those are in Matthew. God the father is identified as "heavenly" or "in heaven" 20 times in Matthew.

Sheffield instructs us that this interpretation of God as heavenly father comes from the context of Rabbinic prayer language. This language emphasizes who is in charge--God, not Caesar.

No comments: