Rocks, Stumbling Blocks and Millstones
“Get behind me Satan, for you are a stumbling block to me!”
So said Jesus to Peter, moments after the brash disciple had confessed that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of the living God.
So said Jesus to Peter, moments after he had called this disciple a “rock” on which he will build his church.
From “rock” to “stumbling stone.”
From foundation to impediment.
Jesus doesn’t much like stumbling stones. And so he returns to the metaphor in this week’s passage from Matthew.
This time it isn’t Peter as stumbling stone, but more broadly any one or any thing that would cause the most vulnerable to stumble, would cause those who embrace Christ with a childlike faith and humility to lose heart, to lose faith.
Jesus may well be full of grace and truth, but when it comes to protecting the little ones, when it comes to embracing and enfolding the meek, the humble and those who have no means for self-protection, Jesus comes on heavy and pulls out all the stops:
“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks!”
Peter, get behind me and do not be a stumbling block on my way to Jerusalem and the cross!
And if any of you – any of you! – should be a stumbling block to the little ones, the vulnerable ones, those who follow me in humility, then it is a millstone for you!
Cockburn sings about rocket launchers. Jesus goes for millstones.
Stumbling blocks get millstones.
Stones that should be foundations for building become blocks on the path of discipleship.
Millstones that should be tools of food production become implements of punishment.
And everything is turned on its head!
Isn’t that just like Matthew to mess with the categories like that?
Isn’t that just like Jesus to reverse the order of importance from the powerful to the weak,
from the arrogant to the humble.
May we build on the rock,
may we not be stumbling stones,
may we not have to face millstones.
Wine Before Breakfast
Tuesday @ 7.22am, Wycliffe Chapel
Melissa Graham Burke will be preaching,
Judith Alltree is presiding,
Deb and the band will open our hearts to song.
See you in the morning,