Scripture Reading for the Second Sunday of Lent, March 16, 2014
Reading: John 5:16-23
Yesterday we looked at Jesus' response to the rigid interpretation of sabbath held by the Pharisees. In his act of transgression against the power of the Pharisees Jesus set the ball rolling on his final confrontation with them and his death on the cross. When we challenge those who exercise power in unjust ways it is not surprising when they persecute us.
The contention brewing here was not just that Jesus was healing on the sabbath and causing some trouble within the Hebrew ranks. Jesus was fundamentally challenging the entire worldview the pharisees had worked hard to preserve. The religious lives of the people hung upon the dictates of the Pharisees and high-priests for their lives. God's favor was not something experienced between God and his people; it had to go through those in charge.
The Pharisees were in many ways a corrupt group, benefiting financially from their status as religious leaders. They held political influence as well, and Jesus' ministry threatened them to their core. Not only was Jesus healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and forgiving the destitute; he had begun equating himself with God! Jesus was no longer a nuisance, he was a threat.
So what are we to do with this passage? How does it inform us on this second Sunday of Lent? Part of the progression of Jesus' ministry and mission on this earth was to bring to us humans a picture of who God is. Jesus Christ is the best revelation we have of God. What God wants more than anything is to bring about healing, peace, wholeness of life, and salvation to his people. The Hebrew word is shalom and the greek work eirene. In order for Jesus to begin this process, the establishment of God's Kingdom, he had to confront those that effectively stood between God and his people.
Questions for Reflection or Journaling
- Where have you seen corruption at work in the world?
- How do we use our power and influence to honor God?
- If you have power and influence in your life are you using it for your own benefit or for Gods?
God in Heaven, we honor you today as the one who has sent us the blessing of your Son, Jesus Christ. We thank you for the example Jesus provided to us on earth, and continues to provide now to his church. We ask today that you guide any power and influence we may control towards the justice you seek for all of your people.