The Tuesday in the 5th Week of Lent
March 28, 2023
At first glance and taken out of context, today’s reading is a little discouraging. Jesus states that we will die in our sins, we can’t go where he is going, and God doesn’t leave Jesus because Jesus is always pleasing to Him. Well, why bother, then? We know we can’t be sin free and we certainly can’t always be pleasing to God. What’s a struggling Christian to do?
We need to put today’s scripture reading in context. We know the danger of plucking verses from the Bible without reading them in light of God’s grace and love. We have to read these verses with the knowledge of what happens next. Jesus predicts it for us in verse 25: “When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know I am he. . . .” Yes, we know we are sinful, but we know Jesus died for our sins and our sins are forgiven. In verse 24, Jesus reminds us “for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.” Thank goodness! If we accept that Jesus is the Son of God who died for our sins, all is forgiven.
Is that it? Do we just do what we want and wait to go to heaven? Jesus talks of God being with him and not leaving him alone, “for I always do what is pleasing to him.” We want to feel the presence of God, the peace that passes all understanding, too. We want to feel God’s strength and comfort. So, we try to emulate Jesus the best we can; we try to not to be of this world, but rather be “from above,” like Jesus. We try to be kind, loving, and generous.
C.S. Lewis’s character Uncle Screwtape, when advising his nephew on leading souls to Satan, describes our giving ourselves to above well: “When He talks of losing their selves, He only means abandoning the clamor of self-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personality. I am afraid, sincerely, that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever.”
Our best self, our best life, the life God wants for us, is when we try to be pleasing to God. Hard times will come, but we have the promise of God’s presence, His healing balm, just by accepting His love. Praise be to God.