Scripture readings for April 8
The first time I read today’s gospel from John 8, it seemed to me that Jesus was speaking in riddles. Jesus was addressing the Pharisees. His words puzzled them as well.
The Pharisees were made up of mostly middle class businessmen who were scriptural and historical scholars. They practiced strict adherence to Jewish laws and traditions. This often distilled their understanding of God to a list of legalistic rules and rituals. The Pharisees tried hard to understand the meaning of Jesus’ words in the context of all they knew to be true about life and death.
In verse 24, Jesus reveals himself as I AM. Jesus gives himself a name, connects himself to God and reveals that his own nature is fully God and fully man. There is no way for the Pharisees to fit this information into a scriptural or historical context. So the Pharisees ask outright, “Who are you?”
Jesus’ reply to the Pharisees links Him more strongly to His Father. “…The one who sent me is true, and what I heard from Him I tell the world.” In this statement Jesus generously exposes a beautiful gem about the nature of God…He is true. We also begin to understand Jesus’ inclusion and place in the Holy Trinity.
The Pharisees are still befuddled so Jesus continues, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to Him. Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in Him.”
Even in life, Jesus knew that His death on the cross would bring people to the realization of His true identity. Jesus lived as a man for a very short time. Twice this week I have heard Jesus’ ministry defined in its length – just three short years. In light of eternity, that is no time at all. How overwhelming temporal boundaries are when there is so much to be accomplished. Imagine you had just three years to lay the basis of the formation of all Christianity. Jesus relied on His Father’s teachings and His father’s perfect time. He lived fully in that relationship even unto death. And that brutal death – when Jesus was lifted up on a cross and died bearing the weight of our sins – that death secured our salvation.
As we approach the Easter Triduum, we will attend Good Friday services and Jesus will be crucified and raised on a cross. May we all use that sobering moment to allow our Heavenly Father to open our eyes of faith. Let us see Jesus as I AM.
Embrace the salvific death of Christ to enter more fully into life in Christ. May we experience God as Jesus pronounced Him…true and ever present.