St Mark’s Lenten Thoughts: Saturday In The Third Week of Lent

Lent Week Three—Saturday

Psalm 90 Jeremiah13:1-11 Romans 6:12-23 John 8:47-59

The readings today adhere to a theme that is consistent throughout this Lenten season, really throughout the Bible: how to live abundantly and defeat death. The lessons are familiar and pretty simple, yet we humans seem to have such a hard time accepting what God is offering. Psalm 90 is “a prayer of Moses the man of God.” The psalmist laments that we might live seventy or eighty years, if we’re lucky, yet we spend the best of them in trouble and sorrow. “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom (v. 12),” he implores the Lord. And so, at every turn, God tries to answer. He tells Jeremiah that, like a belt around the waist, He binds the people of Israel and Judah “to be my people for my renown and praise and honor. But they have not listened (v. 11),” and so, like the belt stuffed under a rock, they will be ruined.

Jesus, in one of many attempts to teach the wisdom the Jews say they want, tells them, “Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God (v. 47).” Look, Jesus tells them. I’m not doing this for myself. I’m telling you, “whoever obeys my word will never see death (v. 50-51).” When they question his authority, Jesus answers them, “before Abraham was born, I am! (v. 58). But they reject his teaching and pick up stones to stone him. “

The apostle Paul is more direct. Who or what is your master he asks his Roman flock? Sin or righteousness? “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey? (v. 16).” Thanks be to God, by choosing obedience to Him, “you have been set free from sin (which leads to death) and become slaves of God . . . and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ (v. 22-23).”

How easily in our everyday lives we enslave ourselves to sin. And as Paul asks his followers, what benefit did we reap from the things we’re now ashamed of? The choice, as always, is ours. The secret to Moses’ “heart of wisdom” is ever before us. Why is it so hard to choose obedience to God?

Laura McLemore

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