5th Week of Lent
If you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins. (John 8:24)
“You can’t handle the truth!” That’s what Colonel Jessup tells a young lawyer during a tense moment in the movie A Few Good Men.
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells some of his enemies the truth, and they can’t handle it: “If you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). His opponents have been testing him, calculating how they can best catch him off guard, but Jesus doesn’t react in kind. Rather, he tells them plainly that they need him because he is the Messiah. Such a radical claim might have been too much to swallow, but that didn’t stop Jesus. They had to know the truth, even if it filled them with rage.
Thank God this doesn’t have to be our response! Rather, Jesus’ words, even his uncomfortable ones, can fill our hearts with hope. Why the different response? Faith. It is the gift of faith that makes Jesus’ words a blessing for us. Believing that he is “I am,” the Savior and Redeemer, puts us on a new path. It changes the way we look at everything—our loved ones, our enemies, our challenges, ourselves—everything.
Jesus died and rose again to give us eternal life. This is the central truth of our faith. And this truth, unlike other facts like 2+2=4, isn’t static. Like the current of a river, this truth runs swift and sure into the ocean of God’s love. When we let ourselves get caught up in it, places in our lives where we once may have been discouraged or fearful are washed away. We sense God’s presence. We know he has a plan for our lives, and we trust him more and more.
The truth that Jesus is your Savior can impact you every day. It can help you turn to him for help in all kinds of challenges. It can move you to seek his guidance and wisdom. And it can spur you on to share the great good news with everyone you know. May the truth of Jesus become the one truth that everyone can handle!
“Jesus, thank you for saving me. Thank you for the gift of faith. Help me to dive into the river of your living water today.”
Psalm 102:2-3, 16-21