Jesus is beginning to prepare his disciples for his coming death. He must have known that his challenges to the establishment of the day would bring this about. As we see constantly in our present day, people with power don’t want to give it up. He must have had extraordinary courage to persist with his mission, knowing what the end result would be. Peter had already declared that Jesus was the Christ, but he had no idea what the implications of that statement were.
There is a danger that we will accept the fact that wordly abuse of power is unstoppable: “Might is right” is the consensus of many people. In the Book of the Apocalypse, John - who was exiled by his own account to Patmos - lived in a time of persecution. He had visions of the struggle between good and evil. The great red dragon with its crowns and horns is an image of the destructive power of unbridled hubris. It swept a third of the stars from the sky and lurked waiting to devour the divine child. It is probably an image of ancient Rome, and can be applied to any of the many dictators who are oppressing their people and threatening others in the world today. However, the dragon does not have the last word. It is the gentle, vulnerable Lamb that has been slaughtered who is enthroned and who triumphs. This is the victory of the Cross which the disciples had yet to come to terms with.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matt. 5:5)
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” (Matt 5:10)