GOOD INTENTIONS THAT BLOCK GODLY PLANS
Matthew 16: 21-28
Have you ever planned to buy a gift for a person, something he or she had been looking for for a long time, and just before you gave the gift, the person says they plan to just go out and buy it? I’ll give you an example. I like old Hollywood movies and books about old Hollywood. Years ago I got a book on the making of “The Wizard of Oz.” I ate it up. Then I bought a VHS tape of the movie back in the 1990s. As DVDs and BluRays came out a few years ago, I thought I’d go out and get one to replace my VHS tape. But my family surprisingly balked at the idea, saying insane things like “your VHS tape is just fine!” (They knew something bigger was in the works!) What I didn’t know was that Matt and Vicki had bought me the big 70th Anniversary Wizard of Oz Ultimate Collector’s Edition with a BluRay disc, old movie stills, the making of the film DVD, and lots of extras! I almost messed up their gift by planning to go out and buy a DVD for myself! Sometimes good intentions can block a gift someone plans to give you.
Let’s now talk about life … and death … and sacrifice. There are stories of heroes in films, war stories and dramas in particular, when a main character will sacrifice himself or herself to save the lives of many. You’ve seen the characters, begging the star not to take the bullet, or not go into the burning building, or not give up an inoculation so someone else can survive. Sometimes the logic behind a person risking life and limb to save others, or even a pet, seem illusive. But sometimes illogical decisions are made. You may remember Steven Spielberg’s epic, “Saving Private Ryan.”
The film opens with the Allied invasion on Normandy Beach on June 6, 1944. Captain Miller and members of the 2nd Ranger Battalion fight to secure the beachhead. During the invasion, two brothers are killed in action. Earlier, a third brother had been killed in New Guinea. The mother of the brothers is about to receive the grave telegram about their deaths on the same day. The United States Army Chief of Staff, George C. Marshall, is given an opportunity to alleviate some of this one mother’s grief when he finds out there is a fourth brother, Private James Ryan, who went missing somewhere in France. He sends Captain Miller and seven other people from the Ranger Battalion to go look for Private Ryan and bring him back to his mother.
Thirty-five years ago Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan was released. It will be back in theatres next week. Spock was quoted as saying this as he sacrificially moved to save the starship Enterprise and her crew, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few … or the one.” How logical.
But logic doesn’t dictate every situation. Sometimes decisions are based on impulse, or emotions, or on information that others don’t have at their disposal. And sacrifices do not just happen on film, but also in history. Here are some examples that were compiled by Karl Smallwood:
During the Second World War, Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient and 1st Lieutenant John Robert Fox was directing artillery fire in the Italian town of Sommocolonia to stall a German advance. While Fox was directing fire, a large German force moved in on his position. Realizing that this force was a huge threat to his men, Fox called a final artillery strike—on himself.
When his men eventually retook the position, Fox’s body was found next to approximately 100 buy generic Pregabalin online and a medal was placed neatly on his chest.
IN 1982, Air Florida Flight 90 smashed into the 14th Street Bridge over the Potomac River in Washington D.C. in the middle of a snowstorm. All but five passengers were killed. Some 20 minutes later, a helicopter arrived to rescue the survivors.
After getting one man to safety, the helicopter threw a life-ring to a man named Arland Williams. He immediately gave the life ring to the passenger next to him. When the helicopter came back for a third
time, he did the same thing again. And again. When the helicopter came back a final time, buy Pregabalin 150 mg online. He’d used his last ounce of strength to save a complete stranger.
And here’s one more:
Richard Rescorla was instrumental in the evacuation of thousands of people during the 9/11 attacks. As the director of security at Morgan Stanley, Rescorla was buy Pregabalin online uk and held twice-yearly evacuation drills to get people out. When the attacks happened and the tower next to Rescorla’s was hit, he put his plan into action and calmly instructed people to leave, right up until the moment he was killed. Rescorla’s actions were considered instrumental in the successful evacuation of over 2,500 people.
What examples of sacrifice. But one of the most powerful, and effective plans was the one the Almighty had to save the souls of his children. With the plan for the sacrifice of the one to save many, the stage was set. The plot was set; the plan was set. The only problem was that some audience members wanted the story in God’s great drama to take a radically different turn. They meant well, but it would have ruined everything. The stage is Matthew 16. To Jesus’ great joy, Simon has just declared that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God. The next scene has Jesus giving a bit of the plot away ahead of time: not usually a good thing to do! He says in verse 21, that he must go to Jerusalem, undergo great suffering, be killed, and then rise from the dead in three days. I think the disciples didn’t understand that last part: the good part for us! All they heard was that he would suffer and be killed. They all jumped in to say “No!” not realizing they would have jammed a monkey wrench into the gears of God’s plans. Sometimes our best intentions block Godly plans. So Jesus spoke up, saying their temptation to protect him was going against God’s plan for salvation. Jesus said to Simon Peter: “Get behind me Satan!” What a harsh thing to say to the “Rock,” just named so by Jesus himself. But say it he did. Our impulses are not always the most helpful, like a family member telling a child, “I’ll stay by your side during your whole surgery.” Not possible and not practical. There would be sterility issues in surgery and frantic parental exclamations, as a surgeon would cut into a precious child. Most of the time protocols are created after time-tested experience. Sometimes broken protocols make heroes. But at other times, God is working an eternal purpose out. If only we could see the big picture. Again, sometimes logic is thrown out the window. Jesus put it this way: “Those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find life.”
The Rev Amy Ziettlow grew up dancing ballet. She was used to much practice and choreography. In Matthew 16 she imagines Jesus handing out God’s redemptive choreography to his disciples. After Peter’s impetuous confession that Jesus is the Messiah,” she imagines that they are ready to dance something in allegro time, rejoicing, celebrating. Instead, with a persistent adagio, they are stunned to hear Jesus describing suffering, death, and resurrection; no leaps; no pirouettes, just steady trudging.
Friends, there is a plan greater than we can dream for our world and for our souls. It is God’s plan. And today, through the simple offering of a Holy meal, you are invited to pray, and to partake, and to put your trust in the one who was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Let us pray:
Take our lives and let them be consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take our moments and our days, let them flow in ceaseless praise,
today and evermore. Through Jesus Christ our host. Amen.
Jeffrey A. Sumner September 3, 2017