In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 8, we have a healing of a blind man, but he only half sees at first. As a literary devise he will represent the disciples on the level of understanding, sunsets. They are hanging in there as disciples but they are blind to what is actually taking place. Peter becomes our leader of the half blind, not understanding, "hardness of heart".
Now I want to introduce Otter Scharmer, a professor of leadership and management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has an article entitled:" uncovering the blind spot of leadership."
His opening remarks, "Why do our attempts to deal with the challenges of our time so often fail? The cause of our collective failure is that we are blind to the deeper dimension of leadership and transformational change." Change requires a descent, so goes his Theory U, a big Capital U. on the downward side you have various states of blindness. Lets see if Peter fits as Jesus makes the descent on the way to the cross.
Jesus big death preparation event is the Transfiguration. Luke's Gospel makes the clearest statement about this. Mark’s Gospel has Peter saying, ""Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." He did not know what to say, for they were terrified." Terrified, ekphobis in the Greek. We have the word phobic in English for fear. Peter has a phobic reaction on the spot, out of fear, literally.
What does Scharmer have to say about resistance in the descent. One form of behavior is called VOF, voices of fear. Peter becomes typical then as well as folks today who expressing fear about changes.
Peter's blindness is not over. Earlier At Cesarea Philippi Jesus asks who do people say that I am . Peter has it half right. He half sees. Mark 8:31-38 “Then Jesus began to teach his disciples that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.”
Scharmer talks about voices of judgment. VOJ. Peter judges Jesus’ understanding of the Messiah. Peter is not ready for the way of the cross.
Peter’s blindness continues. He oscillates and boldly claims to be courageous. Mark 14 Peter said to Jesus, "Even though all become deserters, I will not." Jesus said to him, "Truly I tell you, this day, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times." But he said vehemently, "Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you." And all of them said the same.
Scharmer talks about Voices of cynicism. VOC. Not an exact fit here. Peter is more arrogant. What does fit is Scharmer’s failure of will. Moving down the left side of the U is about opening up and dealing with the resistance of thought, VOJ, emotion, VOF, and will, VOC.” I’d say Mark’s Gospel anticipates Otto Scharmer rather well. Mark could have taught at MIT.
These examples from Mark’s Gospel and from Scharmer’s article are not the end of the story.
Scharmer talks about leadership with a difference. He quotes, Bill O’Brien, who’d served as CEO of Hanover Insurance. He first asked, what is the most important learning experience in leading profound change, O’Brien responded, “The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervenor.” Jesus talks about our interior life in Mark’s Gospel, “It is what comes out of a person that makes the difference.”
And the experience of the Risen Christ, without a shadow of doubt, changes the interior life of Peter. He isn’t ready to sing the Halleulia Chorus the first day, huddled with the rest in the upper room, but he is on this way. And the journey is told backwards in the Easter lectionary. We are now getting earlier accounts of Peter. On Easter Sunday we went fast forward with Peter in Joppa about to have an experience that confronts him as a Jew and his rules for easting what is unclean. His inward change as the Holy Spirit is at work, brings a statement showing blindness overcome. He says to a room full of Gentiles, Not his everyday experience, Acts 10:34-43 "I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”
We need to spend time with the Greek word Peter uses “I truly understand, I now see,” katalambano Lambano is the word for receive. He is receiving a new understanding, a new revelation of Christ at work. Receive the Holy Spirit will be center stage again.
Jesus says Receive labete, aroist imperative, a form of lambano meaning, continuously receive the Holy Spirit. Peter is on his way. And this is no one time event. This is a life time of maturation and transformation in the Spirit.
I incorporated katalambano in the Befriender training model where during our reflecting and debriefing times we would receive something new, some insight, some interpretation, some meaning, some consequence, some outcome as they like to say in hospital language. I trust the Holy Spirit to provide Aha! experiences. some with a little a and some with a big A . Aha! katalambano.
I was a distance learning facilitator on the Healing Power of Story Listening for the Wayne Oates Institute. There health care provided receive CEU’s. At some time during the six weeks one or more of the participants would have an aha! experience. Seeing anew or being renewed in the discipline of listening.
The Aha!s were not over for Peter. He and Paul still had to work things out in the council at Jerusalem as to what the Gentile mission meant. The same is true for us. The aha’s are not over for us. we don’t have it all worked out here at Trinity Cathedral or elsewhere. Like an early Greek Bishop said, we are in perpetual progress through labete, continuously receiving the Holy Spirit, in order for our blindness to be overcome. Then we too can say with Peter, katalambano. “I truly understand.”