WEDNESDAY OF THE FOURTH WEEK OF LENT

March 29, 2017

Isaiah 49:8-15

 

Thus says the Lord:

In a time of favor I have answered you,

    on a day of salvation I have helped you;

I have kept you and given you

    as a covenant to the people,

to establish the land,

    to apportion the desolate heritages;

saying to the prisoners, “Come out,”

    to those who are in darkness, “Show yourselves.”

They shall feed along the ways,

    on all the bare heights shall be their pasture;

they shall not hunger or thirst,

    neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them down,

for he who has pity on them will lead them,

    and by springs of water will guide them.

And I will turn all my mountains into a road,

    and my highways shall be raised up.

Lo, these shall come from far away,

    and lo, these from the north and from the west,

    and these from the land of Syene.

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;

    break forth, O mountains, into singing!

For the Lord has comforted his people,

    and will have compassion on his suffering ones.

But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,

    my Lord has forgotten me.”

Can a woman forget her nursing child,

    or show no compassion for the child of her womb?

Even these may forget,

    yet I will not forget you.

 

Psalm 145:8-9, 13CD-14, 17-18

 

The Lord is gracious and merciful,

    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

The Lord is good to all,

    and his compassion is over all that he has made.

The Lord is faithful in all his words,

    and gracious in all his deeds.

The Lord upholds all who are falling,

    and raises up all who are bowed down.

The Lord is just in all his ways,

    and kind in all his doings.

The Lord is near to all who call on him,

    to all who call on him in truth.

 

John 5:17-30

 

But Jesus answered them, “My Father is still working, and I also am working.” For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God.

 

Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing; and he will show him greater works than these, so that you will be astonished. Indeed, just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes. The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life.

 

“Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; and he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

 

“I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me.

 

(NRSVCE)

 

Meditation

 

This past Sunday, we read how the man born blind, whom Jesus healed by anointing his eyes with clay, challenged the Pharisees on Jesus’s identity. He explained to them very logically that Jesus must be from God, or He would not have been able to perform such a miracle. Of course this merely enrages the Pharisees; but it seems to help the man come to a full understanding of his healer, so that when Jesus finds him he can know and worship Him as the Son of God.

 

Today, similarly, Jesus challenges the people to see beyond their misconceptions of their religion to understand Him for who He is. Jesus explains He is working, as His Father is working, on the sabbath, to heal. This should have been a sign to the people He was speaking to; who except God can heal, and who is lord of the sabbath? Moreover, the prophets and psalmists frequently refer to God as Father, so it is curious that the people were so infuriated by Jesus’s claim that God was His Father. It seems that, in narrow-mindedly focusing on the law, the people had lost sight of the fact that God is their Father, and a loving, relational God, who loves and seeks to give life to His people. So Jesus came to show them the Father and explain to them how they might have life.

 

Two thousand years or so later, are we any better at understanding who God is and listening to Jesus? In our current culture of outrage, is our response to a challenge of what we take for granted to become angry, or to listen for the truth? Is it to insist on our own way and the image of God we have created, or to know Jesus better, study His words and actions in the scriptures, and change our own image to that of our God of love and life?

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for coming to do the works of your Father and show Him to us. As I seek You in prayer and Your scriptures, help me to understand You more and become more like You. I love you, Jesus. May Your love and life flow through me.

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