Matthew 16:21-23 | By Bob Ritzema
March 11, 2023
Old Testament scholar Richard E. Averbeck suggests that Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the garden produced shame and fear, which in turn led to scrambling, that is, “scurrying about trying desperately to handle themselves, each other, God, and the world.” They scrambled to cover their nakedness, then scrambled to hide from God, then scrambled to excuse themselves. I know full well what scrambling is like. My tendency to scramble becomes especially apparent to me in Lent, during times of self-examination. Why am I rushing around, trying to cover a fault over here, shading the way I present myself over there? Why did I once again rely on such troubled ways of coping? Sometimes, as with my fore bearers in the garden, the answer is that I want to hide my sin—from God and others, but also from myself. I acted out of pride, envy, or greed; I ignored someone else’s needs or failed to respect and honor them. Sinfulness isn’t the only thing that motivates shame, fear, and subsequent scrambling, though. Shame and fear can stem from sin, but can also come about in other ways, as with the abused child who fearfully hides wounds caused by someone else’s misdeeds.
Whatever the source, scrambling needs to be dealt with. When I notice my scrambling, it’s helpful to remember that Christ came to take away its causes. By his sacrifice on the cross, he removes both my guilt AND my shame. Dr. Averbeck suggests that the opposite of scrambling is rest. This points me to Christ’s invitation, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) The Son of God who died for my sins is also the one who offers rest. As such, he is the culmination of the law and the prophets, all of which point to the rest that God promised his people from the foundation of the world. As of old, the voice of God comes to us in our scrambling, “enter my rest.”
God, I find myself scrambling. I bring my sin, shame, and fear to you. I accept your offer of rest. Amen.
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