Are you yet tired of Lent? Is contemplating your sin taking its toll on you spiritually, emotionally, physically, or otherwise? Is the weight of your transgression bearing down upon you? Do you feel those fasts and sacrificial Lenten practices?
The Revised Common Lectionary readings for the fifth Sunday in Lent anxiously await the crucifixion and lament the sin that stands in such stark contrast to Christ’s obedience.
Truly, the 51st Psalm is as complete a Prayer of Confession (for those of us in the Reformed tradition) as anything we could ever recite during worship service. David’s acknowledgment of his transgression with Bathsheba are the words of a person who understands the weight of his actions and is truly grieved by his sin and its consequences. It’s not unlike the reaction of any one of us who have been caught in a transgression and have had time to sit with the full implications of what we’ve done. It’s a rotten feeling! David sees how spectacularly he’s fallen short, and it shouldn’t be lost on us that his major concern was that God would in some way leave him.
Jeremiah’s oracle foretells of a time when people would have a new intimacy with God, such that God’s word would be written indelibly within their hearts. They would have unprecedented access to and fellowship with God.
Jesus goes into an ominous discourse about his impending crucifixion, brought on by a seemingly innocent and unrelated request: “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Instead of a handshake, Jesus uses the request as an opportunity to prophesy about what it means to “see Jesus”; to see him is to see him lifted up (crucified). That is integral to meeting/knowing Jesus and understanding who he is. Hebrews in an indirect way takes us back to Jeremiah in its discourse of Christ as High Priest, i.e. the one who stands between Creator and Created and brings the two together. And he’s able to do so through submission — something we don’t always get right.
This week we are at once reminded of our distance from God and promised that the distance will soon be eradicated. This is about the time when Lent is the hardest for us, but there’s a sense of imminence in this week’s texts that I find encouraging — almost similar to Advent. We will see Jesus… crucified. But it’s in his crucifixion (and subsequent resurrection and ascension) that we will see him and ourselves more fully.