Thursday, February 20, 2014

Lent, Year A

From Ash Wednesday through Easter Saturday, author N.T. Wright, who is Chair in New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, bids us follow Jesus, his friends, disciples, and enemies, through the Gospel of Matthew with its stories of love and redemption, deep sorrow and loss, but “victory unlike any other, love unlike any other, and a God unlike any other.”

Lent for Everyone, Matthew, Year A by N.T. Wright and published by www.westminsterjohnknox concludes Wright’s series called Lent for Everyone. The earlier two books were Mark, Year B and Luke, Year C. Wright provided his own translation of the Scriptures for each of the books, as well as a reflection on each passage and its application to the culture of that time as well as to our culture in these days. Each day’s reading ends with a brief prayer. I love the prayers. They are so simple, so ordinary, and so reaching out to Jesus.

In Year A, on Ash Wednesday, March 5 this year, Wright begins with his study of Matthew and except for Sundays, when he introduces and applies a Psalm, he continues, ending this Gospel on Easter Saturday. This is the story of “a king coming into his kingdom in a strange and unusual way.” Perhaps we misunderstood it earlier, but now Wright gives us opportunity to study it carefully and “to learn that the whole Gospel story of Matthew, from start to finish, is about the strange way in which Jesus became king.”

In the first three chapters, both Matthew and Wright are saying that “Jesus is the king from the line of David,” and in the close of this Gospel, it is clear that “Jesus, with his resurrection and ascension, has now come into his kingdom.” Jesus says, “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” But maybe our problem is that, looking back, we do not see it. After all that has happened since then, perhaps we don’t see that Jesus IS king of the world. Do you? Do I? Do we live that way? Matthew and Wright and many others have been trying to explain that to us. We are hard-headed and in need of learning so that we may believe it is true, and may live in ways that show others that Jesus is King of all the world. The Gospel of Matthew and Lent, Year A should help us to know and to believe: Jesus is Lord and King of the Universe.

—Lois Sibley.