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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, September 24, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | John 12:36–43

While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.

Although he had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “Lord, who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” And so they could not believe, because Isaiah also said, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, so that they might not look with their eyes, and understand with their heart and turn—and I would heal them.” Isaiah said this because he saw his glory and spoke about him.

Nevertheless many, even of the authorities, believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they did not confess it, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human glory more than the glory that comes from God. (NRSV)

I’m struck by Jesus in this text. “After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.” He must have been so frustrated by people’s disbelief, fear, and unwillingness to take a risk for God’s glory. I imagine that Jesus had to take some time away in order to be grounded and healthy in his response to the people. Jesus, of course, was asking much of people. He asked them to center themselves on God’s ways instead of human ways. For us, this sounds terrifying and challenging, so why can’t Jesus be more understanding?

I wonder if, to him, what he was asking was simple. I wonder if his message made sense to him because he had the capacity to fully understand the peace, the hope, the magnitude of God’s glory that is so difficult for our minds to capture. I wonder if our fixation with “human glory” (aka the human means of success) has contributed to our closed and hardened hearts.

This passage leads me to take a breath and center myself on Jesus in this text. How can I make more space to read scripture and reflect on what I’m missing? Where’s the fear and anxiety I’m experiencing that disconnects me from following Jesus’ way? What’s a risk I can take that may be a risk in “human glory” but is closer to the glory God hopes for in how we live our lives? I encourage you to pause today and ask yourself these questions too.

Jesus, thank you for taking care of yourself so you could better guide us. Help us learn from your frustrations this day; may we continue to learn how to turn to your glory. Amen.

Written by Abbi Heimach-Snipes, Pastoral Resident

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