Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Gospel and 9/11

Photo Credit: Beverly & Pack
In recognition of the tenth anniversary of the tragedies of 9/11/01, Russell Moore offers a perspective on how we can find the gospel in the midst of the horrific events that occurred that day.

Moore says:
"The full force of the trauma from events like September 11 doesn't come from contemplating the violence done to strangers or even "the nation." Only when we envision ourselves and our loved ones on the scene, as children transplant themselves into nightmare stories, does the severity hit home. We imagine hearing those jihadists screaming prayers as the plane plummets from the sky, or being trapped in a smoke-filled stairwell, or leaping from a window in terror. The phenomenon here is precisely what causes us to flinch when we see blood on the pavement after a car accident. We are reminded of what scares us, of what could happen to us, too.

And so it is with the gospel. The story of Jesus records a persistent strain of denial in the life of Simon Peter. Virtually every time Jesus speaks of his impending execution, Peter insists that such trauma will never happen on his watch (Matt. 16:22; John 13:37). Of course, this not only suggests Peter's empathy with his teacher. It also demonstrates the apostle's refusal to face up to his fear that he might be tempted to protect his own skin.

Though he doesn't unveil it all at once, Jesus refuses to shield Peter from the awful truth. In one of the Bible's most pitiful narratives (John 13:36-38), Peter ostentatiously promises to protect the Messiah from harm. "I will lay down my life for you," he blusters.

Jesus responds: "Really? You're going to fight for me? Before the rooster crows, you will deny you even know me—not once but three times."

Jesus revisits the trauma on Peter. When the rooster crows, Jesus happens to be passing by, and he looks at his friend, prompting Peter to cry bitterly (Luke 22:60-62). Even in the famous restoration of Peter, after Jesus' resurrection, Jesus seems eager to remind Peter of his previous denial. He questions his disciple's love three times. He meets with him around a charcoal fire (John 21:9), precisely the setting of the denial itself (John 18:18).

Then Jesus presses the trauma further. What Peter fears most—the shame and torture of crucifixion—is exactly what Jesus assures him will happen. He will stretch out his hands and be led where he doesn't want to go (John 21:18). Peter will have the kingdom he so longs for—with all of its glory and peace—but his immediate future is skull-shaped."
To read the rest of his article entitled, "The Gospel at Ground Zero" please click here.

No comments: