Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Morning Psalm: 119:145-176 | Evening Psalms: 128, 129, 130
Jeremiah 25:30-38 | Romans 10:14-21 | John 10:1-18
Recently, I had lunch with a young man who feels trapped. His conundrum? He doesn’t feel that his life measures up to the promise found in our Gospel reading today—specifically, the verse in which Jesus promises, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
As I talked with my lunch partner, he said, “To me, having ‘abundant life’ means having joy and peace. I believe in Jesus. And yet, I would not say that I am experiencing joy and peace. On the contrary, I feel confused and tempted and troubled.” What words of comfort could I offer to this young man?
After taking a deep breath, I said something along the following lines: “Often we think the Christian life is supposed to be a life filled with happiness and fulfillment, a sort of never-ending good mood. If we have salvation in Christ and the presence of the indwelling Spirit, surely we should be the happiest people on the planet! But there’s a danger here—a danger that we will overlook the way Jesus himself defines the ‘abundant life.’ Jesus says, ‘I lay down my life for the sheep.’ That is Jesus’ ‘abundant life’—giving up His happiness and peace and joy for the sake of His sheep.”
It is, paradoxically, when we suffer the agony of death that we live the “abundant life.” It is when we say, with Paul, that “we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within” (2 Cor. 7:5)—that we truly experience the promise of Jesus’ life. So, take heart. If you are tempted and tried and feeling discouraged, that suffering in and of itself may be precisely the way Jesus is leading you in His abundance. As we yield our lives for the sake of others, we are thereby participating in the suffering of Christ and sharing in His promised peace.
Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first He suffered pain, and entered not into glory before He was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ Your Son our Lord. Amen.
Dr. Wesley Hill
Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies
Trinity School for Ministry
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