21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Martin Luther said, “The life of Christianity consists of possessive pronouns.” “It is one thing to say, ‘Christ is a Savior’; it is quite another thing to say, ‘Christ is MY Savior and MY Lord.’” “The devil can say the first; the true Christian alone can say the second.”
We heard in today’s gospel reading Peter’s proclamation of Jesus: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” With these words, Peter is not just telling us the title of Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior, the Son of the living God. he is also confessing his need for redemption and salvation.
We must be able to make the same confession of faith in Jesus. However, it is not enough to say, “Jesus is Lord and Savior.” Our confession must consist of possessive pronouns: “Jesus is MY Messiah, MY Savior, MY Redeemer.” Our profession of faith in Jesus as our Messiah, our Savior, must be also a confession of our need for salvation.
Allow me to pose a provocative question: What kind of Messiah do you want Jesus to be? More often than not we are not on the same agenda page with Jesus. What we dream of and hope for is not the same as what he has promised us and works by grace to deliver to us. Perhaps many of us struggle with disappointment with God because, at street level in our daily lives, we do not esteem what God values. We do not treasure the ways God is saving us. According to Paul David Tripp, many of us do want nothing more than Prozac Jesus, who will make us feel better and make our lives easier.
In light of this, I think it is just fair to ask: Do you really want the redemption and salvation that Jesus offers you? Is it really redemption that you want from our Savior? Is it really what you want Jesus to do for you – to save you? Let me put these questions in a context…
Perhaps many of us want control more than we want redemption. We wish we had more control over the people and circumstances of our lives. That would be “the good life” for us.
Perhaps many of us crave for success more than we crave for redemption. Be it success in our profession, career or business. We are willing to do almost anything to be successful. Meanwhile we neglect what God says that has eternal value.
Perhaps many of us esteem acceptance than we esteem redemption. We find more happiness in the acceptance of the people around us than we do in the abounding love of God. What others think of us, what others say about us seems to be more important to us than God’s loving acceptance of us.
Perhaps many of us want material things than we want redemption. We tend to judge the quality of our lives by the amount of income and profit we get, by how fat are our bank accounts, by the number of our cars and mansions, or by the piles of the material possessions we have accumulated.
None of these things are bad in themselves. It is not wrong to desire any of them. The question is: What set of desires rules my heart? This is important because the desires that rule our heart determine how we evaluate our life, how we make small and big decisions, and, most importantly, how we think about the goodness and faithfulness of God. The desires of our heart show whether we long for Jesus’ redemption or not.
Again, our profession of faith in Jesus as our Messiah, our Savior, must be also a confession of our need for salvation. We must let Jesus, our Messiah, to save us in every way.
Let us end with a prayer: Lord Jesus, my Messiah, my Savior, save me from selfishness and self-centeredness, that I may center my life on God. Save me from inordinate desire for material things, that I may seek first the kingdom of God. Save me from lust for power and dominating others, that I may learn to serve with humility. Save me from self-righteousness and sense of entitlement, that I may not consider myself above others or better than others. Save me from apathy and indifference, that I may show genuine concern for others. Save me from anger, bitterness and resentment, that I may forgive from the heart. Save me from guilt and regrets about the past, and from worries and fears about the future, that I may find God in the present that I may experience his mercy, providence and love in the here and now. Lord Jesus, my Messiah, save me. Amen.