Probing The Scriptures
“… I say this so that you may be saved.”
Jesus is on trial. He has cured a sick man on the Sabbath, and has been accused of breaking the Sabbath rest. Appealing to his Father’s activity on the Sabbath (such as giving new life) and saying that he simply does the same, Jesus has aroused his accusers to further wrath: he calls God his Father. In addition, they seem to think that Jesus’ hint of equality with the Father means that he is setting himself up as God’s rival.
In yesterday’s Gospel passage, Jesus explains that he is God’s obedient Son, who does only what the Father wishes. (Therefore, he is not the Father’s rival.) In today’s passage, since the Law requires that someone being tried have witnesses, Jesus accepts that condition. He wants to give his accusers every opportunity to believe in him and be saved. As witnesses, he appeals not only to the invisible Father but also to John the Baptist and to the life-giving miracles he himself has worked. Jesus also appeals to the Scriptures, declaring: “even they testify on my behalf.” But, Jesus continues, his accusers resist the Scriptures and thereby refuse to come to him to have life.
Having made his defense, Jesus takes the offensive and declares that one day his accusers will be on trial. Moses will accuse them before the Father, “because he wrote about me,” and “if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
In reading this line, I think of that passage in Deuteronomy (18:15ff.) where Moses told the people that someday God would send them another prophet like himself, who would tell people everything that God wanted to make known. Christians have understood this to refer to Jesus.
We who have the grace of believing in Jesus accept God’s Word. But do we treasure and cherish it? Do we try to plumb its depths? Lent can be a time to grow in our love for the Word, which brings us still closer to the Lord.
Lord Jesus, divine Master, your Word contains abiding truths to guide us on the way to salvation. Many passages of the Old Testament, while complete in themselves, contain a further dimension that refers to you. And the New Testament revolves around your life, teachings, death, and resurrection. May I read and listen to your Word attentively, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. May I try to penetrate it always more profoundly, that it may bring me ever closer to you, the source of eternal life.
“… come to me to have life.”
Daughters of Saint Paul. (2008). Lenten Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections (pp. 80–81). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.