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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Mark 11:27–33   

Again they came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.” They argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?”—they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” (NRSV)

Who do you think you are? Jesus threatened Roman and religious hierarchy and social convention. Time and time again, religious and political leaders confront Jesus seeking to debase him. In each of these confrontations, Jesus’ identity and authority are revealed to us however, the Roman and religious leaders aren’t satisfied. Their course is set on the cross.

In today’s passage, the chief priests, scribes and elders conspire to pose the unanswerable. Jesus is quick and resolved in his response. I envision him standing tall, confident and steadfast as they become ensnared in their own question.

The persistent challenge of a faithful life is maintaining alignment in how we serve God, serve others and further our own goals and well-being. Ideally, we are clear and our purposes blend well and work hand in hand. I wish I could stand as tall and confident as Jesus. There is an adage I think of often: “don’t let the important fall prey to the immediate.”

For me, Lent is a time for reflection, realignment, and recommitment. I am more mindful of the balance between the “deeper inner” of prayerful discernment and the “greater outer” of daily engagement in the noisy and demanding external world, a murky confluence of my own and others’ expectations. In my discernment, I step back, take a breath and ask, “Who do I think I am?” My answer is a child of God, a disciple and a part of God’s creation—and for me, that response encompasses choice, guiding principle, and call to action.

Good and gracious God, I thank you for another day, another gift from you. Provide me strength and guidance to know who I am and who I am for, living into your light in the world, reminded by the brightness of the dawn. May I find my way to love and serve your purpose each day of my life. I pray in your Son’s name. Amen.

Written by Laura Sterkel, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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