Gospel Reading: John 5:31-47 (alternate reading: Matthew 1:16-21)
31 If I bear witness to myself, my testimony is not true; 32 there is another who bears witness to me, and I know that the testimony which he bears to me is true. 33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony which I receive is from man; but I say this that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father has granted me to accomplish, these very works which I am doing, bear me witness that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness to me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen; 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe him whom he has sent.
39 You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from men. 42 But I know that you have not the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. 44 How can you believe, who receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; it is Moses who accuses you, on whom you set your hope. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?"
Old Testament Reading: Exodus 32:7-14
7 And the LORD said to Moses, "Go down; for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves; 8 they have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them; they have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, `These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!'" 9 And the LORD said to Moses, "I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people; 10 now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; but of you I will make a great nation."
11 But Moses begged the LORD his God, and said, "O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, `With evil intent did he bring them forth, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth'? Turn from your fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, `I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it for ever.'" 14 And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do to his people.
Meditation: Do you know the joy of the gospel - the good news of Jesus Christ - and a life freely submitted to the wisdom and knowledge of God's word? Jesus' opponents refused to accept his authority to speak and act in the name of God. And they refused to believe that he was sent from the Father in heaven. They demanded evidence for his claim to be equal with God. Jesus answers their charges with the supporting evidence of witnesses. The law of Moses had laid down the principle that the unsupported evidence of one person shall not prevail against a man for any crime or wrong in connection with any offence he committed (see Deuteronomy 17:6). At least two or three witnesses were needed.
Witnesses to Jesus' true identity
Jesus begins his defense by citing John the Baptist as a witness, since John publicly pointed to Jesus as the Messiah and had repeatedly borne witness to him (see John 1:19, 20, 26, 29, 35, 36). Jesus also asserts that a greater witness to his identity and equality with God the Father are the signs and miracles he performed. He cites his works, not to point to himself but to point to the power of God the Father working in and through him. He cites God the Father as his supreme witness.
Jesus asserts that the Scriptures themselves, including the first five books of Moses, point to him as the Messiah, the promised Savior. The problem with the scribes and Pharisees was that they did not believe what Moses had written. They desired the praise of their own people and since they were so focused on themselves, they became blindsighted to God. They were so preoccupied with their own position as authorities and interpreters of the law that they became hardened and unable to understand the word of God. Their pride made them deaf to God's voice.
God reveals himself to the lowly of heart
Scripture tells us that God reveals himself to the lowly, to those who trust not in themselves but in God alone. The lowly of heart listen to God's word with an eagerness to learn and to obey. The Lord Jesus reveals to us the very mind and heart of God. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit he opens our ears so that we may hear his voice and he fills our hearts and minds with the love and knowledge of God. Do you believe that God's word has power to set you free from sin and ignorance and to transform you to be like him?
Saint Augustine of Hippo (430-543 A.D.) wrote:
"As Christians, our task is to make daily progress toward God. Our pilgrimage on earth is a school in which God is the only teacher, and it demands good students, not ones who play truant. In this school we learn something every day. We learn something from commandments, something from examples, and something from sacraments. These things are remedies for our wounds and materials for study."Are you an eager student of God's word and do you listen to it with faith and obedience?
"Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may listen to your word attentively and obey it joyfully."
19 They made a calf in Horeb and worshiped a molten image.
20 They exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass.
21 They forgot God, their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt,
22 wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red Sea.
23 Therefore he said he would destroy them -- had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him, to turn away his wrath from destroying them.
A Daily Quote for Lent: Christ is our Master who teaches us, by Augustine of Hippo, 354- 430 A.D.
"There is a Master within Who teaches us. Christ is our Master,
and his inspiration and his anointing teaches us. Where his
inspiration and his anointing are lacking, it is in vain that
words resound in our ears. As Paul the Apostle said: 'I planted
the seed and Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.' Therefore,
whether we plant or whether we water by our words, we are nothing.
It is God Who gives the increase; His anointing teaches you all
things." (excerpt from Sermon on 1 John 3,13)
Meditations may be
freely reprinted for non-commercial use. Cite copyright &
author Don Schwager (c) 2015 Servants of the Word
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.
Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers.
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