Archive for August, 2013

Matthew 16:13-16 – THE KEY VANTAGE POINT

THE KEY VANTAGE POINT - Collage by Ross Cochrane and photos from MorgueFile

THE KEY VANTAGE POINT – Collage by Ross Cochrane and photos from MorgueFile

Eight strangers. Eight points of view. One truth. In the movie “Vantage Point” a violent and desperate scenario unfolds from eight different perspectives. Each view from different eyes gives us greater understanding about what is actually happening; the cable news crew, an American tourist with a handheld camcorder, a Secret Service agent ensuring the president’s safety and even our own viewpoints. Each vantage point leads us on a path of deception, or betrayal, or violent struggle as we try to save the president. Unwittingly we find ourselves involved in desperate powerplays as the truth is unfolded.

This is called Disambiguation or the Rashomon effect; a method of storytelling using multiple perspectives to explore what is really happening. It provides a setting, characters and plot, but various characters give an account of alternative versions of the same incident. The stories are mutually contradictory and we are caught in a search for the truth, which sometimes, as in Vantage Point, becomes clearer with each revelation.

There are many Vantage Points in the gospel accounts but only one truth. If we looked at Jesus through the lens of a TV Camera and saw the events leading up to the Crucifixion we would want to rewind and replay the scene again and again from different vantage points in order to find the truth. Who is this man? Matthew 16:13-16 would look something like this…

CAESAREA PHILIPPI – AD 28

A BANK OF MONITORS shows various vantage points of Jesus surrounded by His disciples. CAMERA ZOOMS IN ON YOUR IPHONE SCREEN. In your viewfinder, you are scanning a group of men talking. FOCUS ON JESUS. You press Video Feed. His team is listening, waiting.

Jesus has been shown the full story board by His Father of His coming abduction, interrogation, His condemnation before His accusers, His crucifixion and resurrection. His gaze now scans across His disciples. We get a glimpse of some sadness in His eyes. He takes a deep breath and asks “Who do others say that I am?”

Your camera feed pans across to Judas. He is distracted. You turn the video around, trying to see what Judas is looking at. You capture a curtain fluttering in an upper window of a nearby building. Back to the group. You almost miss what Matthew is saying. “Well, some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” There is general agreement.

THEN UNEXPECTEDLY JESUS WALKS TOWARDS YOU. Uncomfortably close. The iPhone is still recording but now somehow it is in Jesus’ hands. The image shudders and is turned upside down but then FOCUSES BACK ON YOU. You feel confronted and a little awkward. (All cameras pan to you and you see yourself on monitor 6) as Jesus focuses in on your heart you begin to hear His question. “Who do you say that I am?” You find yourself asking “Why am I avoiding this question? Are my alliances curtainlike flutterings in the window? Am I here, taking all this in, recording the scene but not really responding? Distracted? Who do I say that Jesus is? Is He a MARTYR FOR HIS FAITH like John the Baptist, A MIRACLE WORKER like Elijah, A MESSENGER from God like Jeremiah or one of the prophets? His question rings in your head; “Who do YOU say that I am?”

CUT TO PETER. PETER gives voice to his perspective of Jesus. “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

That would be a fitting end to your video but with that revelation of truth all the action begins rather than finds closure. Jesus once again zooms in on you and although Jesus is no longer visible on the monitors, His voice reverberates with the FADE OUT. And somehow you know that unless you respond to the question Jesus is asking, you will never find the truth, not just of who Jesus is, but also of who you are and the destiny God intends for you.

THE KEY VANTAGE POINT is not your video feed of Jesus but His focus on you. All of us have seen the story board of Jesus life, death and resurrection, but when the full picture is replayed again and again, how will you respond when all the love of God is focused on you and Jesus asks “Who do YOU say that I am?”

Pastor Ross

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Matthew 16:13-17 – AN INSTAGRAM IMAGE OF JESUS

Narcissis  Today

Narcissus
Today – Photo created by Ross Cochrane with Paint.net and Filter Forge from a painting by Caravaggio

“Enough about me. Tell me what you think about me.” Narcissus, a young man in Greek mythology, fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool. Now, instead of a pool, Narcissus looks into the screen of an iPhone and takes Instagram Selfies. He documents his day from the food he eats to the songs he listens to, to the fleeting thoughts he has. He uploads his images and comments about himself to social media sites. Nothing is out of bounds. Nothing too ordinary to share. What if in the middle of posting his ego he received a post from God Himself? Would he notice?

Rampant in our social media Narcissus demands “Follow Me!” In his numerous self-aggrandizing conversations on Twitter he brags about expertise and exaggerates personal achievements. He sends endless Selfies; ingrown images, craving the admiration of others and by-passes the warm and caring interpersonal relationships so that personal acclaim can visit.

When Jesus comes to Caesarea Philippi in the North, a city of idols, and sends out a Tweet to His disciples “What are others saying about me?” (Matthew 16:13 NLT) He is not hungry for others to affirm His sense of self-worth. He doesn’t need to! He is not simply looking for praise though He deserves it. He is not sending a Selfie with a peace sign and duck lips? “IAG (I am God) HOW GOOD AM I? WHAT DO YOU THINK OF ME?!!!!” He is not pridefully blaspheming His own image in order to get our feedback? He doesn’t need us to prop Him up! He is not even wanting to attract followers; He sternly warns the disciples NOT to tell anyone about who He really is? (Matthew 16:20 NLT). He knows who He is. The question is – do we?

His question ripples the water of the pool and my Narcissistic gaze is broken long enough to see His reflection instead of mine. How would I answer? What would you say?

“Well, Jesus,” we say, “others are saying that You are obviously a very spiritual person with a depth of belief that is uncomfortably confronting at times. They know You as a powerful speaker who stirs them to think deeply about their relationship with God and others. You have certainly made Your mark with Your miracles. They admire You as an excellent leader. You attract followers willing to die for You. Some think that You’re a bit radical, and that You have a holy air about You. You are morally good, lifting the bar beyond what most of them want even though they secretly aspire to these things. Most people think of You as a prophet figure who is making a big impact on the world with Your philosophy. Obviously intelligent, influential, persuasive, You are movie-star like as You entertain and teach them with Your story telling abilities.”

He turns to you and me and with personal intent written in His gaze He asks us the same question “Who do YOU say that I am?”

I remember when He asked me that question. I can see it now. I am standing in a gathering of believers. The preacher has called for a response. There is an awkward silence inside, yet the songs of life relentlessly continue to play all around me. I must choose my words carefully to reflect what is in my heart because the eyes of God are piercing my soul and yet somehow the words don’t seem to exist that would adequately express what I want to say. What can I say? My throat is suddenly dry and I try to swallow. I find that I am shaking, standing alone yet in a crowd, knowing that somehow my life hangs in the balance based on how I answer…

And then the words flow, God prompted, clear, courageous and eloquent, declaring a depth of trust that is beyond my understanding, and declaring a breadth of faith that rings crystal clear in eternity’s hallways, and invites heaven’s celebration.

I responded that day to Christ as my personal Saviour and Lord. God asked me the most demanding and important question of my life! I didn’t understand the full implications of my response, but it changed my life, forever. 

“Who do people say I am?” Son of a carpenter or creator of the world. Purveyor of wisdom or omniscient? Miracle worker or lifechanger? Storyteller or History maker? This question has echoed through the centuries, testing the hearts and minds of millions. Astounding!

Jesus doesn’t need the religious trapping and positive affirmations, the warm fuzzies we so often crave, to make Him feel better about Himself. That’s not what He’s fishing for. Not at all! He’s fishing for the response of your human spirit as it gasps for it’s first breath of life in an amazing revelation of new birth. The only real answer to His question is the answer Peter blurts out “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” (Matthew 16:16 NLT). 

Pastor Ross