Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Jesus spells it out...

Our gospel this morning is mysterious and ominous. The Pharisees are still not getting Jesus and he, in a rare moment of real human frustration, lets them know that they are still in the darkness of unbelief. Twice in this sad exchange, Jesus gives them the biggest clue to his divine nature. He refers to himself using God’s name – the sacred name given to Moses before the burning bush. Jesus says,

“For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.”

In a ministry encompassing three years of healing, teaching, story and miracle, this sentence may be the clearest self-revelation and the very reason for the Incarnation. What Jesus says to these hard-hearted Pharisees, he is saying to us.

“For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.”

I understand the first half of the sentence, but the second has been troubling me. What does it mean to “die in your sins?” I’m fairly certain that Jesus was not cursing them or predicting eternal damnation. That’s just not how the heart that made the universe operates. Maybe, to die in our sins means, that we have lived without hope – without the reality of God’s saving love. The connection in this one sentence between faith and its power over sin cannot be denied. I think many people die this way. Many people die without having lived in faith. Jesus doesn’t want that for anyone – not even a stubborn, self-righteous Pharisee. To die in our sins means, that we carry the weight of sin throughout our lifetime – that we never enjoy the relief of God’s forgiveness here. It would seem to be the whole point of his coming in flesh and bone.

As we move this week from Mary’s “yes” to the Lord’s Passion, we have an opportunity for profound gratitude. Because we believe that Jesus is the Christ – the great I AM – we will not die in our sins. Rather, we move toward death fully alive to God’s merciful love. No sin, no crime of the heart, no failure to love will keep us from the love of God revealed to us in Christ. That love is already ours for the taking. We need only to accept the gift that comes with faith and be grateful.

Blessings and love to you…
- Sister Vicki