On the final Sunday of August we’ll hear the prophet Isaiah urge us to “look to the rock from which you were hewn” (Isaiah 51:1). In these late summer Sundays, the lectionary encourages us to look to the living stone—Jesus, the Messiah.
We continue following Jesus through Matthew, witnessing his miracles and ministry. Food and feasting are common biblical images for God’s mercy, and as our gardens or fields are bursting with harvest, Jesus bursts forth in these readings with merciful gifts. Here in these lessons we receive the best food: the rock-solid promise that while we stumble and fear, God’s abundant mercy gathers us in.
This month we’ll see Peter, disciple and apostle, sink like a rock. Then just two weeks later, Jesus declares him to be the rock that will form the foundation of the body of Christ. Like Peter, we swim in scary waters. Fearful speech dominates our public squares. But Christ comes to us in the middle of the storm, just as he came to Peter and the others in the boat. No longer sinking, Peter and all of us within the body are sustained by God’s love.
You may recall that the ministry of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew actually begins with his temptation in the wilderness, in which the devil asks him to turn stones into loaves of bread. But the joke is on the tempter: Jesus, our merciful Messiah, is already the living stone that has become bread for the whole wide world.
In Christ we see God, the rock from which we are hewn. By the hand of Christ, we are brought to the feast and continually forgiven. In the last days we will be gathered through Christ to that eternal table where no one will hunger and none will be left out.