Gospel Reading: John 7:40-53
40 When they heard these words, some of the people said, "This is really the prophet." 41 Others said, "This is the Christ." But some said, "Is the Christ to come from Galilee? 42 Has not the scripture said that the Christ is descended from David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?" 43 So there was a division among the people over him. 44 Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him. 45 The officers then went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, "Why did you not bring him?" 46 The officers answered, "No man ever spoke like this man!" 47 The Pharisees answered them, "Are you led astray, you also? 48 Have any of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 But this crowd, who do not know the law, are accursed." 50 Nicode'mus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, 51 "Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?" 52 They replied, "Are you from Galilee too? Search and you will see that no prophet is to rise from Galilee." 53 They went each to his own house.
Old Testament Reading: Jeremiah 11:18-20
The LORD made it known to me and I knew; then you showed me their evil deeds. 19 But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. I did not know it was against me they devised schemes, saying, "Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be remembered no more." 20 But, O LORD of hosts, who judges righteously, who tries the heart and the mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you have I committed my cause.
Meditation: When resistance and opposition to God's word rears it head how do you respond? With fear and doubt? Or with faith and courage? The prophet Jeremiah was opposed by his own people because the words he spoke in God's name did not sit right with them. They plotted to silence him and to "cut him off from the land of the living" (Jeremiah 11:19). Jeremiah responded with meekness and prophetic insight "like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter" (Jeremiah 11:18).
No one can be indifferent for long when confronted with Jesus and his claim to be the Messiah and Savior of the world. Jesus' message and the miraculous signs he performed caused division for many in Israel. Some believed he was a prophet, some the Messiah, and some believed he was neither. The reaction of the armed officers was bewildered amazement. They went to arrest him and returned empty-handed because they never heard anyone speak as he did. The reaction of the chief priests and Pharisees was contempt. The reaction of Nicodemus was timid. His heart told him to defend Jesus, but his head told him not to take the risk.
Who is Jesus for you? And are you ready to give him your full allegiance? There will often come a time when we have to take a stand for the Lord Jesus and for the truth of the Gospel - the good news of God's kingdom and the free gift of salvation which Jesus came to bring us. To stand for Jesus and his kingdom may provoke mockery and opposition. It may even entail suffering and hardship - such as the loss of job, reputation, or life.
There are fundamentally only two choices that determine the course of our lives and the final destiny that awaits us: the choice to live for God's kingdom of peace, joy, and righteousness or the pursuit of the world's kingdom which stands in opposition to God's authority and commandments. We can choose to obey God's word and promise of blessing or we can choose to follow the voice of those who promise success and happiness apart from God's truth and laws. The costly grace and freedom - which the Lord Jesus offers to those who embrace the cross for his sake - leads to joy and blessing in this life as well as the promise of eternal happiness with God. Cheap grace - which tries to bypass the cross for the sake of being my own master and the ruler of my own destiny - leads to emptiness and endless futility. Who do you choose to be the master and ruler of your life and destiny?
"Lord Jesus, your Gospel brings joy and freedom. May I be loyal to you always, even though it produce a cross on earth, that I may share in your crown of victory for all eternity".
Psalm 7:1-2, 8b-11
1 O Lord my God, in you I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers,
and deliver me,
2 lest like a lion they rend me, dragging me away, with none to rescue.
8b judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me.
9 O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous, you who try the minds and hearts, righteous God.
10 My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart.
11 God is a righteous judge, and a God who has indignation every day.
A Daily Quote for Lent: Not be walking but by loving, by Augustine of Hippo, 430-543 A.D.
"We approach God not by walking but by loving. The purer our love for
him toward whom we are striving, the more present to us will he be. To
him, therefore, who is everywhere present and everywhere whole, we must
proceed not by our feet but by our moral virtues - judged not by the object
of our knowledge but by the object of our love." (excerpt
from Letter 155,13)
Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers.
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