Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Riddler:Lent 5, Year B

Riddle by Graham
This Week's Lectionary Texts
Jeremiah 31:31-34
Psalm 51:1-12 or Psalm 119:9-16
Hebrews 5:5-10
John 12:20-33

This Week's Reflection
I get frustrated with the Twelve sometimes because they seem like such idiots. I mean from my perspective Jesus tells them over and over again who he is and what must happen and they continue to remain clueless. But, when I read verses like the one in the gospel lesson for this week that says, "Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life," I think it may be a miracle that anyone ever understood Jesus at all! He is like The Riddler from the old Batman series, speaking in a sort of code language that is hard to decipher.

The Prophet Jeremiah. 1508-1512. Fresco. Sistine Chapel, Vatican
Having over 2000 years of interpretation added on top of the words of the Christ makes us think we understand. I think for most of us, we sit in church (or stand preaching in the pulpit) and think we grasp pretty well what the words mean. But, if we were to tell the truth, we may grasp pretty well what some commentator had to say about the words, but the words themselves would be pretty shocking and confusing to us if we only took them for what they are.

I can't help but wonder if Jeremiah wept a lot because of what God had him preaching in the streets. How would we respond to some guy claiming to be a prophet telling us that all hell is about to break loose and it is all our fault? I'd want to throw him into a well too! But, in this pericope, God is sharing the hope we find in the new covenant. Sins will be remembered no longer, the law is not only available to everyone, but actually written on our hearts, and all will have the opportunity to know God up close and in person. Of course, the prophet doesn't get to say it quite that clearly.
The Riddler

So, to participate in this new covenant, we can't rely on ourselves, we can't depend on the worldly ways of life to carry us through. We must listen to the Rabbi's riddle and give up our life so that we can have life abundantly. We are being prepared during this season of Lent to accept the truth of life as a disciple of Jesus the Christ - we are ignorant and we desperately need a Savior. We are being prepared to fully accept our part of the covenant and follow the Resurrected Lord into eternal life turning our backs on all the sins of this world that keep us separated from God. We are being prepared to follow our high priest who learned obedience through what he suffered.

That is just not something that I can fully understand. My comprehension skills are not that good. The good news for us and for our congregations is that it doesn't matter if we understand it or not. Jesus was obedient to God and because of that, we are awarded eternal life. Riddle me this - what could be better than that?