March 18

Read: Luke 13:31-35

In today’s passage, the Pharisees warn Jesus that his life is at risk. But busy doing God’s work, he will not flee and is unfazed by the specter of murderous violence. Jesus knows that he will eventually die in Jerusalem, not in Galilee at Herod’s hand. He foreshadows his resurrection by telling them that his casting out demons and performing cures will be finished in two more days—on the third day. Jesus then laments that the people of Jerusalem refuse divine protection and instead destroy the messengers from God.

At least two lessons emerge from this reading. The first is a commitment to call: concentrating on the work, not the risks. It requires godly courage. When we focus on a task instead of how we feel about it, there’s no room in our consciousness for both achievement and fear. Perhaps the task is to seek out what God’s call is for our own lives and trust that we’ve been given the talents to complete the intended work. Scripture reassures us we can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us.

A second concept is that of divine grace: that there is nothing we can do—or fail to do—that will cause God to love us any more or any less. Even in calling out Jerusalem for her sins, as it were, Jesus suggests that God’s love is undiminished. This is a concept undoubtedly easier to accept in the abstract than in daily practice. How many times in a day do we criticize ourselves for falling short?

If we believe that God lives in us, then we may choose to see the divine in ourselves—and in each other.
These are good news! Embracing the power of Christ, knowing that we are wildly and unconditionally loved by God, is there anything that we cannot do for good in this world?

Help us focus on your call and your grace in this Lenten season, Lord. Amen.

-David Sloat