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24 March 2015

Read today’s Gospel Reading: John 8.21-30

Whilst he was facing adulation from his admirers on the one hand, and criticism and opposition from the authorities on the other, in one way Jesus trod a fairly lonely path. None of his disciples really understood his situation – how could they?

What Jesus comes back to is the constancy of his relationship with his Father. He need never be alone – his Father is with him. The one time he questions this will be on the cross, when he asks, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ but even there he is quoting from Psalm 22 which moves from the desolation of abandonment to rejoicing and thanksgiving for God’s deliverance.

Following Jesus, for us, can be lonely at times. People do not necessarily always understand or appreciate why we choose the way Jesus sets before us. We could allow ourselves to be hurt by this – but there is a better way. Like him we need to remember we are not alone, for God our Father is with us. This will give us surprising confidence when we face criticism, or when we have to rise to a particular challenge.

How do you respond to criticism? There is a difference between accepting the wise counsel of a critical friend, and having to endure the taunts of those who don’t seem to care for you or for what is true.

Jesus refuses to condemn, though he could have chosen to do so. Instead he holds out the offer of life to those who will recognise him. And he is willing to be ‘lifted up’ on the cross to make this happen. And asks his Father to forgive those who crucified him and shouted abuse at him.

Today’s Gospel Reading: John 8.21-30

Again he said to them, ‘I am going away, and you will search for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.’ Then the Jews said, ‘Is he going to kill himself? Is that what he means by saying, “Where I am going, you cannot come”?’ He said to them, ‘You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.’ They said to him, ‘Who are you?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Why do I speak to you at all?  I have much to say about you and much to condemn; but the one who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.’  They did not understand that he was speaking to them about the Father.  So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he,  and that I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me. And the one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.’  As he was saying these things, many believed in him.