Weekday Gospel Reflection

Monday in the Fifth Week of Lent

John 8:12-20 - World English Bible

12 Again, therefore, Jesus spoke to the religious leaders, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life."

13 The Pharisees therefore said to him, "You testify about yourself. Your testimony is not valid."

14 Jesus answered them, "Even if I testify about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from, and where I am going; but you don't know where I came from, or where I am going. 15 You judge according to the flesh. I judge no one. 16 Even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent me. 17 It's also written in your law that the testimony of two people is valid. 18 I am one who testifies about myself, and the Father who sent me testifies about me."

19 They said therefore to him, "Where is your Father?"

Jesus answered, "You know neither me, nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also." 20 Jesus spoke these words in the treasury, as he taught in the temple. Yet no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.

In John 8, Jesus declared he was the light of the world that would show the way to life, just as Isaiah foretold about the glory of YHWH leading those in Diaspora back to the Promised Land. (Isaiah 60:1). The leaders held his testimony was nothing more than a personal assertion. He insisted his witness was valid, based upon the source of his being and his mission. He came from the Father who also testified on his behalf. So, he and the Father stood as the witnesses to his claim (Deuteronomy 17:6, 9:15). Jesus was the light of the world, coming into the world not to judge it, but to save it.

The leaders could not see, for they had no faith. "Where is your Father?" they demanded. Jesus treated the question as a rhetorical one. If they knew him, they would know the Father.

We know God as our intimate Father because we believe in Jesus. The more we trust our Savior, the closer we will come to the source of our being, our Father.

How close are you to God today?

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Tuesday in the Fifth Week of Lent

John 8:21-30 - World English Bible

21 Jesus said therefore again to the religious leaders, "I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sins. Where I go, you can't come."

22 The Jewish leaders therefore said, "Will he kill himself, that he says, 'Where I am going, you can't come'?"

23 He said to them, "You are from beneath. I AM from above. You are of this world. I am not of this world. 24 I said therefore to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM he, you will die in your sins."

25 They said therefore to him, "Who are you?"

Jesus said to them, "Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning. 26 I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you. However he who sent me is true; and the things which I heard from him, these I say to the world."

27 They didn't understand that he spoke to them about the Father. 28 Jesus therefore said to them, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM he, and I do nothing of myself, but as my Father taught me, I say these things. 29 He who sent me is with me. The Father hasn't left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him."

30 As he spoke these things, many believed in him.

Sometimes people do not talk with each other, but beyond each other. Each side does not seek a common understanding but only wants to address their own side. Jesus and the religious leaders had such an encounter.

Just as Jesus pointed to the source of his being and mission in John 7:28, now he would speak of his final destination. Unlike their pagan neighbors who saw time within the cycles of nature, Jews in the first century AD viewed time as a linear progression, with a beginning and an end, The Lord placed himself within that great vision of time (Revelation 1:8, 21:6, and 22:13 stated he was "the Alpha and the Omega). He came from the Father; now, he would return to the Father, along with those who believed in him. The skeptics and haters among the leaders would "die in their sins" (i.e., they would not enter the Kingdom). They, however, didn't understand him; instead, they speculated about his suicide. At this point, he tried to explain his origin; he was I AM (8:23-24) who came from above, from the Father. The leaders were born into a world of sin and corruption. The only way to escape their fate was trust in him.

"Who are you?" they demanded. This was not only a question of identity, it was an inquiry into the place Jesus had in their world. He just didn't fit in. He certainly addressed their world with the words of the Father, but finally brought many of them to faith with the phrase "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM he, and I do nothing of myself, but as my Father taught me, I say these things" (8:28). In John's theology, the moment of the crucifixion was the moment of revelation and the moment of faith; it was the "hour" of his glory. When the leaders lifted him up on the cross, the Son of Man revealed YHWH as a self-giving deity, a Father ready to sacrifice his own Son for the good of the world. The cross also revealed his utter dependence on the Father, even in death giving himself to his God. This dual gift of the Son to the Father and the Father to the world define the meaning of "I AM" for the followers of the Christ.

Who was this Jesus? He was "I AM." If the leaders couldn't grasp that insight, they would never understand.

Look on a crucifix. What do you see?

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Wednesday in the Fifth Week of Lent

John 8:31-42 - World English Bible

31 Jesus therefore said to those Jewish leaders who had believed him, "If you remain in my word, then you are truly my disciples. 32 You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."

33 They answered him, "We are Abraham's offspring, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How do you say, 'You will be made free'?"

34 Jesus answered them, "Most certainly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is the bond servant of sin. 35 A bond servant doesn't live in the house forever. A son remains forever. 36 If therefore the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham's offspring, yet you seek to kill me, because my word finds no place in you. 38 I say the things which I have seen with my Father; and you also do the things which you have seen with your father."

39 They answered him, "Our father is Abraham."

Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham didn't do this. 41 You do the works of your father."

They said to him, "We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father, God."

42 Therefore Jesus said to them, "If God were your father, you would love me, for I came out and have come from God. For I haven't come of myself, but he sent me."

In John 8:31-32, Jesus said, "If you remain in my word, then you are truly my disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." The last clause held the key to a dialogue with the religious leaders who believed in him. 8:32b referred to Psalm 119:45 ("I will walk in freedom, for I have sought your precepts."); the faithful Jew obeyed the duties of the Law, so he was (mostly) free from sin and its effects. Jesus exchanged the precepts of the Torah with his word (and ultimately himself). Hence, the Pharisees and the scribes faced a dilemma: follow the Law or follow Jesus. So, they objected; they were faithful Jews ("sons of Abraham") and enjoyed the favor of YHWH. How could they be slaves to sin?

Jesus answered with a distinction between a servant and a son. Since everyone sinned (no one has ever kept the Law perfectly, not even for a day), Jesus insisted, everyone was a servant of sin. Only the son had a place in the family; the servant did not (they don't "live in the house forever"). He implied that, as the Son, he could give the status of son-ship to others with the gift of freedom (8:36). But, because they clung to their status of faithful Jews and their devotion to the Law, they would oppose him in the end, even to the point of killing him (8:37). Here, he reinforce the distinction between the son and the servant by stressing the father figure as the source of action; as the Son, he spoke the words of his Father, while, as slaves to sin, the leaders did the deeds of their "father" (Satan).

The leaders reasserted their faithfulness ("Our father is Abraham."), but Jesus questioned even that assertion; since Abraham listened to YHWH, his true children would do the same. He insinuated the leaders were not sons of the patriarch, but of Satan. They objected again (they were not "born of sexual immorality," that is, of Satan), but claimed God as their Father. Jesus answered them with a conditional statement in 8:42: "If God were your father, you would love me...I haven't come of myself, but he sent me."

How many times do we claim God as our Father, yet cling to our sin? That's why we need Jesus in our lives, to free us with his word.

When have you heard the word of Christ this week?

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Thursday in the Fifth Week of Lent

John 8:51-59 - World English Bible

Jesus said to the religious leaders:

51 "Most certainly, I tell you, if a person keeps my word, he will never see death."

52 Then the Jewish leaders said to him, "Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets; and you say, 'If a man keeps my word, he will never taste of death.' 53 Are you greater than our father, Abraham, who died? The prophets died. Who do you make yourself out to be?"

54 Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say that he is our God. 55 You have not known him, but I know him. If I said, 'I don't know him,' I would be like you, a liar. But I know him, and keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day. He saw it, and was glad."

57 The Jews therefore said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?"

58 Jesus said to them, "Most certainly, I tell you, before Abraham came into existence, I AM."

59 Therefore they took up stones to throw at him, but Jesus was hidden, and went out of the temple, having gone through the middle of them, and so passed by.

In these verses from John, Jesus would follow the logic he laid out in his dialogue with the leaders. In 8:31-42, he insinuated that his word was greater than the Law. Now he would give the reason for his implication; not only did he come from the Father, he was I AM. As he spoke the word of the Father, his mere utterance was life giving; the disciple who kept his word would never taste death.

The statement of Jesus enraged the leaders. He was crazy (he had a demon), since the great men of the faith, Abraham and the prophets, had died. Good Jews could visit their tombs. So, how could this Jesus make such an outrageous claim?

Jesus shifted the focus back to the Father. He didn't come to pump up his reputation; he came to do the will of God. Any glory he received came from the divine. Indeed, he existed before Abraham (and the prophets) because the source of his being was not temporal (therefore subject to death) but eternal. He was I AM.

When you look upon an icon of the Lord, do you see God enfleshed?

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Friday in the Fifth Week of Lent

John 10:31-42 - World English Bible

31 The Jewish leaders took up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of those works do you stone me?"

33 The Jews answered him, "We don't stone you for a good work, but for blasphemy: because you, being a man, make yourself God."

34 Jesus answered them, "Isn't it written in your law, 'I said, you are gods?' 35 If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture can't be broken), 36 do you say of him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You blaspheme,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God?' 37 If I don't do the works of my Father, don't believe me. 38 But if I do them, though you don't believe me, believe the works; that you may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in the Father."

39 They sought again to seize him, and he went out of their hand. 40 He went away again beyond the Jordan into the place where John was baptizing at first, and there he stayed. 41 Many came to him. They said, "John indeed did no sign, but everything that John said about this man is true." 42 Many believed in him there.

Why did people believe in Jesus? This passage from John 10 presented several reasons: his "works" and the testimony of others (like the Baptist) about him. Ultimately, THE reason to believe in him lay in his relationship with the Father. Of course, this reason was the most controversial. Was his claim to be the "Son of God" blasphemous? After all, he described his Son-ship not only in terms of intimacy, but in terms of equality; he defended his assertion with Psalm 82:6 ("I said, "You are gods, all of you are sons of the Most High."), a hymn that referred more to celestial powers ("gods") than humans. Nonetheless, he used the psalm verse to deflect his critics' charge of blasphemy, while insisting on his unique place with his Father. His claim as the "Son of God" would lead to his crucifixion and the revelation of his glory on the cross.

Why do you believe in Jesus?

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Saturday in the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time

John 11:45-56 - World English Bible

45 Many of the Jews, who came to Mary and saw what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went away to the Pharisees, and told them the things which Jesus had done. 47 The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said, "What are we doing? For this man does many signs. 48 If we leave him alone like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation."

49 But a certain one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all, 50 nor do you consider that it is advantageous for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish." 51 Now he didn't say this of himself, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but that he might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day forward they took counsel that they might put him to death. 54 Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jewish leaders, but departed from there into the country near the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim. He stayed there with his disciples.

55 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand. Many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves. 56 Then they sought for Jesus and spoke one with another, as they stood in the temple, "What do you think—that he isn't coming to the feast at all?"

In John 11:1-44, Jesus rose Lazarus from the dead, as the last of his "signs." This miracle tipped opinion among the leaders into desperation. Enraptured by his signs, the populace looked upon him as a Messiah figure, one who could start a revolution and sweep away the corrupt Temple elite. In such chaos, the Romans would retaliate without mercy. What to do? In response, the chief priest, Caiaphas, spoke, not only as high priest, but as the leader for the entire nation; hence, his words carried prophetic weight, but not in the way he could have predicted. Jesus would have to die to save the nation, not from the Romans, but from its sins; indeed, he would save the entire Diaspora from its transgressions. Because of the danger, he went into hiding for a while. Speculation of his appearance in Jerusalem at Passover, the feast of liberation, ran rampant.

We will celebrate the death of Jesus soon? Are you ready?

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