“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34b)
Have you ever changed your name? In America it takes a lot of paperwork to do that. You have to get a new Driver’s License and Social Security Card. I have to say that I really like my name because of its ethnic and etymological significance; nevertheless, I find that I’ve been the recipient of new monikers given to me by others. My folks baptized me as “Owen,” but school buddies knew me as “Griff.” Since 1998 I’ve been “Pastor” to most people I encounter. Each name, I’ll confess, has a slightly different identity attached to it.
When Jesus preaches forgiveness of enemies, it means we don’t get to feel smugly superior. We have to give up our sense of “fairness” and love people we don’t want to love. We no longer have the luxury of holding grudges, and we can’t dream of the day when we can see people we don’t like annihilated by some delightfully diabolical act of violence. The old ideas of victory and defeat have to go in the dumpster. Peter really hates that. He was so looking forward to bloody revolution.
[i] See Luther’s explanation to The Sacrament of Baptism (Part IV) in the Small Catechism. Luther references Romans 6:4.