And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” (Luke 23:35-38)

During the season of Lent, my spouse, Jewelle, and I have been hosting a Maranatha House Church for the youth of our parish at the Cottage. Our conversations have been incredible—like, mind-blowingly insightful and staggeringly beautiful. I cannot resist sharing an insight they had last week that is most relevant to our reading this morning. They were struck by how the story of Jesus’ trial and death parallels his temptation in the wilderness by Satan, which we had recently been discussing in confirmation class. We had discussed how in that story, Satan tempts Jesus to exercise his power qua divine inappropriately. The temptation is to act as God in ways that God would never act. And here, as Jesus dies, he is tempted in just this same way by the leaders: “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God.” In resisting this temptation, Jesus gives us a profound insight into God’s character: that God is always giving Godself away, as it were—saving others with no thought for Godself. As if.

 

Let us pray: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, renew in us the gifts of your mercy; increase our faith, strengthen our hope, enlighten our understanding, widen our charity, and make us ready to serve you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Pray: As we’ve been discussing these last few days, Jesus’ passion is a profound revelation of who God really is and what God is like. Spend a moment in prayer today to ask God where in your life you could stand to be a bit more like Jesus in this way, that you might reflect more fully, even in your humanity, the divine mode of life. This is what Jesus did, loving those who hated him, forgiving those who betrayed him, giving himself to others without reserve. Ask our Lord for the grace and strength to bear whatever Cross he reveals to you.

A Journey Through the Passion is a daily meditation for Lent curated by Fr. Justin Crisp, our Associate Rector and Theologian-in-Residence. Meditations follow the schedule of readings for our 2019 Maranatha House Churches, feature prayers for the season of Lent according to the Book of Common Prayer and Lesser Feasts and Fasts, and are patterned on the seven practices of The Way of Love, a rule of life for the Episcopal Church.