Everything about Jesus, his life, his words, his actions, are a judgment on our lives and world. That judgment offers us the chance to see as he sees, to live as he lives, and to be as he is. His judgment, however, is not an adjudication for the purpose of punishment. Rather, it is a diagnosis for the purpose of healing and life. Jesus always casts his judgment with an eye toward change and transformation. Its purpose is to show us the way, the truth, and the life.
There comes a time in each of our lives when understanding and knowing give way to the darkness of not knowing and not understanding. The journey of faith, it seems, is a journey through the darkness. Maybe we all come “to Jesus by night.”
I need you to trust me and work with me on what I am going to say next. It won’t seem true but it is. Brian’s love, his life, and his presence are as real today as before he died. I know it doesn’t look like that and it sure doesn’t feel like that. I know that your grief and tears are saying that it’s not true. But I promise you it is. It is the gospel truth.
Lent 1A: Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 and Matthew 4:1-11 Over the last several years I’ve begun to see and understand Lent and temptations, the struggles in my life, in a different way. It used to be that I thought about those things in terms of self-denial: just say no, don’t do this, don’t do that; and…
Listen to him. Be raised up. Do not be afraid. What if those words are holy wisdom for times of change? What if they are the means by which we step into our own transfiguration? Maybe it wasn’t Jesus who changed on the mountaintop. Maybe it was Peter, James, and John. Maybe their eyes were opened and their seeing changed, so that everywhere they looked they saw “Jesus himself alone.” Maybe they saw Jesus for the first time as he had always been.
Where we begin our Lenten journey is not as important as where it takes us. In the same way, what we give up, take on, or do for Lent are not as important as what those things do for us.
Christ’s gospel is seditious. Do not resist an evildoer. Turn the other cheek. Give your cloak. Go the second mile. Give to those who beg. Don’t refuse a borrower. Love your enemy. Pray for those who persecute you. Those kind of things are not taught, valued, encouraged, or rewarded by most of the world. If enacted they would shatter the status quo and bring business as usual to a halt. And that’s the point.