Two groups of Jews emerged in today’s Gospel account. There were those about to stone Jesus for what they believed was blasphemy and those who began to believe. The first group did not recognize the good works that Jesus did as coming from God, nor his reasoning that “even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father” (Jn 10:38). They listened to the claim that Jesus was making but they refused to accept the fulfillment of the assertion: Jesus did the works of his Father because he was then and still is today the Son of God, sent by his Father to redeem all of humanity.
The more that Jesus sought to help them to understand that he was who he says he is, the more they dug in their heels. They left the stones on the ground but then moved to have him arrested. Jesus evaded their grasp and moved on to the region across the Jordan where John first baptized. John did not preach in the Temple precincts either, even though he was the son of a priest. John followed the lead of God to prepare the way for Jesus and his eternal priesthood. The Temple had not been the seat of God for some time. Jesus would become the new living Temple.
Jesus returned to the place of his baptism, where he joined in solidarity with sinful humanity. This visible image of consecration revealed what happened silently in his conception and birth: the Son of God took on flesh and became man to open up heaven for us in the humanity he assumed. As people came to John in the Jordanian wilderness, so too, people came to Jesus. Not all rejected his message. Many came to him and said, “John performed no sign, but everything John said about this man was true.” And many there began to believe in him (Jn 10:41-42).
The question that arises for us as our steps take us closer to Palm Sunday and Holy Week is to which group of Jews recorded in today’s Gospel account will we align ourselves with? Will we label Jesus as a blasphemer or accept that Jesus is the Son of God? The scriptural record does not reveal indifference as an option, the accounts do not leave any room for Jesus being only human; a good teacher, a wise man, or a revolutionary radical.
We either accept Jesus is fully human and fully divine or we don’t. If he isn’t who he claimed to be, God, then Christianity is just another philosophical, theological pursuit. If we accept that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, then our lives ought to be aligned to his. Our thoughts, words, actions, and even our faces are to reflect that truth, so that when others look at us they see no longer our faces but the face of Jesus.
A good way to begin each day is affirming this fact by stating with an attitude of prayer, “Jesus I believe in you, I need you,” and asking him what works of the Father he would have us offer in his name this day? In what ways can we be of help and support? May we have the openness of mind and heart to hear his words and the courage to act upon his guidance, so to be the precious, living stones we are, radiating the light from our source, Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
Painting credit: Sacred Heart of Jesus by CB Chambers