Lent: On the Way to the Cross 3

Our series intertwines the life of Mary and Peter as two prime examples of how the earliest followers of Jesus struggled to make sense of the scandalous nature of a mission that involved crucifixion. Last Monday we looked at the theme of expectation. Today I’d like to consider how both Mary and Peter participated expectantly in the vision of Jesus.

As readers of The Real Mary know, I’m big on looking at Mary through the clearest lens Scripture gives us — through the lens of the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55; see at bottom of this post). Two general observations give us our own lenses: Mary expected God to do for Israel precisely what her marvelous Song says God would do. Namely, bring justice to the those who fear God and judgment on those who oppress. And this justice fulfills the Abrahamic promise, and I understand this to be something like God being God for Israel as Israel is God’s people. The second observation is this: Mary expected to participate in this kingdom-about-to-come and the arrival of promised justice. Before I get to what Mary was about to learn, I want to sketch Peter’s own expected participation.

Peter was called by Jesus to be an apostle and was given a new name and all of this became deeply personal for Peter on the shore of Galilee’s sea after Peter caught all those fish on the other side of the boat. Peter confesses his sinfulness and begins to follow Jesus in his kingdom mission. Peter begins to participate in Jesus’ vision with great expectation. Not only that, but in Matthew 10, Peter (with 11 others) is sent out to “catch” others for the kingdom of God. They are the special apostles, the special servants of Jesus. They are his authorized ambassadors. But there’s more to this story of participating expectantly in Jesus’ vision.

Anyone who walks with Mary and Peter who also knows the story of the Gospels knows that both have lots to learn. Both will learn that their expectations, intensified as they were by intimate attachment to Jesus and close participation in his kingdom work, will soon need radical adjustment.

Perhaps we can learn that it is in belonging to the circle of Jesus’ followers that we come to see a Lord who will guide us into a way of life that is nothing less than cruciform. Many of us are weekly reminded that for all the expectations we have of what God will do and for all the joy we find in participating in God’s redemptive work, the Supper of our Lord reminds us that both expectations and participation need to be seen through the lens of bread and wine.

Here’s Mary’s Song… it records Mary’s expectations and her anticipation of participation in God’s redemptive work.
And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.


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