Lenten Devotional 2021: Day 4

Saturday, February 20 – Written by Pattie Aitchison

The Triumphant Liberating King– Matthew 16:21-15

Photo Credit: Mary Beth Wallace

The “who do you say I am?” passage that precedes this one shows Jesus affirming Peter’s claim that He is the ‘Christ’, Son of the Living God. However in this very next section Jesus is strongly rebuking Peter for getting his identity and purpose completely wrong. What gives? Jesus’ talk of being both the Messiah and having to head to Jerusalem to suffer and die is TOO confusing!

McLaren points out in Chapter 25 of his book We Make the Road by Walking that the Greek word ‘Christ’ is similar to the Hebrew word ‘Messiah’ which means “the one anointed as the liberating King”. So the question is not whether Jesus is the true ‘Liberating King’, but how to understand that beyond the mindset of the Judeo-Greco-Roman culture and time. In fact that is still the question.
We, too, are caught up in a hierarchical notion of power looking like economic or political domination. So how can we understand what kind of ‘liberation’ Jesus came to bring? God’s in-breaking power and justice is to be experienced on all levels of lived experience; personal, political, ethical, environmental and certainly economic.
How can we embrace the meaning of Christ’s liberating ‘kindom’ in every area of our lives and beyond? This is what is meant by ‘working out our salvation’. Jesus has already shown the way to inner peace and right relations, to economic justice and fair politics, yet we have remained impervious clinging to our ego-driven, ignorant ways … failing to see the big picture …. God’s picture. How did Jesus’ iconoclastic presence and mission end up in plastic and golden images of him littered around the world? We, like Peter, have failed to understand that Jesus came to liberate us from our egotistic focus to experience the beauty of peace, the power of love, and justice for all God’s creation.
Prayer: Loving God, liberate our minds and hearts to commit to your sovereign purpose for the world you love so much. Amen