I love plans, but they do not always love me. Alec Reynolds and I noticed the Hornets. One had buzzed over his baby sisters head as we walked Margaret in her stroller. We knew we had to plan an attack on the beehive. So we did what any ten-year-olds would do, we gathered some rocks and sticks and prepared for our assault.
First we bombarded the nest from a safe distance just enough to weaken their defensive — in practice to make them super anger. Then we made the frontal assault. Using our sticks we ran past the hive slicing it in the middle. Oh Boy, let’s just say Alec’s older brother still tells the story about the swarm of hornets that chased me down the driveway into the house biting me the whole time! Ten stings later the folly of our plan began to come into focus.
We have all sorts of Plans: game plans, personal growth plans, relationship plans, family plans (aka, to do lists), and business plans. I love business plans. I love them for their ambitiousness, their audacity and their claims about an industry. These are some of the sharpest plans detailing sales and marketing ideas along with fancy flow charts, and always always ending with big monetary returns for the investors. For instance, this little wine company will start with three bottles of Virginia wine and by next month we will be selling a million and by year’s end we will have returned a hefty profit to our investors!
Our family plans are not packed into a powerpoint (usually), but they have the affect in that they provide direction of our family, careers, etc.
These plans all have the same output: The Way of Glory. What we think we need. The financial independence that involves one more deal, happiness, joy, and freedom – reclaiming the honor from the bees.
Glory and these associated characteristics reflect the vision of the Messiah, the anointed one, for the people of 1st Century Palestine. They wanted a Messiah to restore them to Glory.
The Prophet Isaiah speaks of a Messiah (9:6-7)
For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Peace, yes, but return to Glory drives the hope for a Messiah. Restoring the people of Israel to the time of David. Glory is the name of the Messiah game.
By the 1st century, the Messiah had taken on an even more alluring bent. Instead of straight restoration, the Messiah would also smash the enemies to pieces, and none shall be saved (Book of Enoch) This Messiah would be an eschatological king. Pronouncing the reign of God’s people and enthroning with power, money, and freedom. Glory.
Peter and the disciples are answering Jesus’ questions through the This is the Messianic lens through which. They must have been excited with the direction of these questions
So when Peter calls Jesus the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One, they must have been overcome with giddiness. This is it they must think! He is the Christ, and we are on the inside track. We are buying shares at the ground floor.
And then they hear Jesus’ business plan:
They hear that the Messiah, the restorer of Glory, will suffer, be rejected, be killed, then and only then will He rise – – suffer, pain and die – – I am sure they could not even comprehend resurrection. He’s going to die.
The elders, chief priests, and scribes will all condemn him – – all his friends will abandon him.
I am sure they could not get past those first words. Great suffering. What? A messiah suffer, that’s like a fish living out of the water. It cannot happen.
The ever strong and loyal Peter knew this was wrong, so he rebuked his teacher. Ironically the verb used to tell us of Peter’s rebuking is the same word that has characterized Jesus’s healing and casting out of demons and unclean spirits.
In other words, this business plan is so far out of the realm of comprehension that Peter thinks that Jesus has been taken over by spirits and sin. Martin Luther wrote that Peter breaks rank because of this outrageous claim, but wouldn’t we all?
If you were handed a business plan that said: first, we will lose money, then we will reject by every customer, our products will all be defective and then our shareholders, employees, friends will turn on us, and we will end up in Chapter Seven: liquidation.
However, Jesus understands their reactions, and he rebukes Peter by calling him Satan, the tempter. Jesus aligns Peter with the Plan of Glory. Jesus is offering a new business plan, one not based on Glory, but one based on the Cross. Jesus then expounds on this paradoxical business plan.
Here is the way of the Cross. That by giving up and surrendering you will find life. By letting go of ourselves, we will find ourselves.
The paradox of the Gospel is through Christ’s death we find life. In the way of the Cross death equals life.
Last Thursday, a group of Christ Churches began our jail ministry at Charlottesville Regional Jail, and we experienced the paradox of the Gospel firsthand. In our time reading scripture together some of the men began to talk about the freedom that they have found in jail. Freedom from the endless pursuit for glory and freedom from their plans of self-destruction and sin. They spoke of freedom and peace even as their wrists were cuffed, and they were pushed into the back of police car. One man spoke about a twenty year battle with alcoholism. He spoke about finding and discovering a recovery community in jail and the freedom and life that he now feels. To put this in context, the CARJ is a no move facility. That means that each man is confined to his housing unit for 24 hours a day. These men have lost all earthly freedom, but they are experiencing a joy from Christ.
These men have felt the freedom of God’s Business Plan.
Others have not, A friend of mine had it all planned out. Retirement, house on the NC coast, grandkids, long walk on the beach, then three days before his last day at his job he suffered a traumatic fall that resulted in his losing his ability to use his arms and legs. He was a quadriplegic when I met him in the hospital. We cried about lost dreams and plans. He did not feel the presence of the Gospel.
It is between these illustrations we live and breathe. We live between total freedom from Christ and our disappointments from our broken dreams and wrecked Visions of Glory.
The paradox that is our Gospel speaks to you and me in these poles and speaks the truest words to us. The words of the business plan do not end in death rather they end with Resurrection.
This why the resurrection is so important to Jesus’ business plan even if it seems impossible to get through the pain and broken dreams…the author of the business plan does get through to the end and speaks to you and me.
Jesus on the Third Day rose again, and he tells Mary and Salome at the Tomb:
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
Go, tell Peter I will be waiting for him. Even after Peter rebukes Him today and will deny Him as he hangs on the Cross, Jesus makes it clear that He is gone ahead of Peter and is waiting for him. He is waiting for each of us. He is waiting in our failed plans, and in our continued quest for Glory. He will be waiting for us, not because of anything that you and I do, but because of the business plan. God’s plan demands nothing from us: It demanded everything from God.
God’s Business Plan has one Owner: God. One actor and function: Jesus and to die on the cross for you and me. One message: I am waiting for you in your pain, in your broken quests for Glory, and I love you.