Weekly Bible Devotional
“The Bible: Jesus Is Lord”
February 28, 2021
Scripture for Sunday: Matthew 16:21-23
21 From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
Notes on the Text:
As the four Gospels tell the story of Jesus, they try to show how the Lordship of Jesus was based on the values of the Reign of God where the lowly are lifted up and the powerful are brought down so that all may experience the healing power of love. The key to really proclaiming Jesus as Lord was following in his footsteps of humble self-giving love. To confess Jesus as Lord is to live by the values of the reign of God where all belong instead of the values of the rulers of the world.
This week’s Bible reading is taken from the words of Jesus about his upcoming crucifixion. Jesus in this passage does not sugar coat anything about this path. In fact, Jesus makes it sound really scary. This was a turning point in the Gospel of Matthew from Jesus’ ministry in Galilee to Jesus’ ministry as he prepared to go to Jerusalem. What Jesus shares with his disciples is his call to suffer and face the oppressive powers of the Roman Empire and its stooge government and clerics in Jerusalem.
Jesus was going to suffer for the sake of love. His teachings and movement would become such a threat to the dominant lords of that time, that they would have to eliminate him as a threat. I love Peter’s reaction. Peter was still operating under the norms and lordship of violence. He was ready to fight for Jesus. In fact, later on when Jesus was getting arrested, one of his companions, most likely Peter, drew his sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. And when Jesus was arrested, fear so dominated Peter’s heart and mind that he ended up denying him three times. The Lordship of Jesus was very hard to accept for Peter and it is still hard for many of us. Peter had to experience the death and resurrection of Jesus before he was truly transformed to the way of Jesus.
In his book, Simplicity, Richard Rohr writes this, “I’ve had the opportunity to preach in many parts of the world. A non-Christian once told me: ‘Why should we believe in your Christ? You Christians have waged the most wars, you use up the most resources in the world, and you’ve raped the planet. And then you say you love your poor Jesus. You hate Jesus and only say you love him to fool yourselves.’ I have no response to this, because I know I am not innocent either. Over large parts of this planet Christianity and the Church have dwindling credibility. If we’re honest, we have to admit that we’ve turned them into theories of redemption and psychic tips. For us the Gospel has never come. False religion is present when we piously say, ‘Thy Kingdom come,’ but don’t immediately add, ‘My kingdom go.’ And we Christians have believed that we could both say, ‘Jesus is Lord!’ and go on being the lords of our lives.”
It is easy to think of our love for Jesus in theoretical or theological ways. Who would not admire someone like Jesus? It is always easy to admire historical figures like Mother Teresa. It is much harder to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. When we proclaim Jesus as Lord, we have to be able to say that our security, our fears, our worries, our sense of control, our violence, our power, our greed, our shame, our guilt, and our ambitions are not lords over us!
When we follow the way of Jesus and fully accept his “upside down” values of life, we would find true life and fulfilment. For three years Jesus worked with his disciples to help them reach deep within their souls to find their inner strength for the journey of life by the values of love. This included sermons, teachings, social interactions, spiritual practices such as fasting, and a lot of prayer together. For three years they lived together and were taught the ways of the Spirit. They had to walk the walk each and every day until it became second nature for them. They would not have been ready for the power of his death and resurrection unless they had spent those years walking with him each day.
Another way of putting it comes from our Lenten reflection book A Story to Tell, Jesus meets us in the world as we know it and calls us into the world as it could be – a world where we fish not for the healthiest, biggest, or brawniest, but for the sick, tossed-aside, and undesirable. We fish not for profit, but to do the work of accompaniment that allows all to flourish.”
Blessing by Kathi McShane:
May God bless you, keep you, be gracious to you.
May God give you grace never to sell yourself-or God—short.
Grace to risk something big for something good.
Grace to remember that the world is now too dangerous for anything but truth,
And too small for anything but love.
So may God take your mind and think through it.
May God take your lips and speak through them.
May God take your hands and do good with them.
May God take your heart and set it on fire. Amen.