Wednesday: (March 28): Gospel Reading: John 8:31-42
31 Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham, and have never been in bondage to any one. How is it that you say, `You will be made free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not continue in the house for ever; the son continues for ever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me, because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.” 39 They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do what Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth which I heard from God; this is not what Abraham did. 41 You do what your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.
Old Testament Reading: Daniel 3:14-20, 24-25,28
14 Nebuchadnez’zar said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed’nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image which I have set up? 17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.” 19 Then Nebuchadnez’zar was full of fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed’nego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was wont to be heated. 20 And he ordered certain mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed’nego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 24 Then King Nebuchadnez’zar was astonished and rose up in haste. He said to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered, “But I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” 28 Nebuchadnez’zar said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed’nego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set at nought the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.
Meditation: What saved Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed’nego from the fiery furnace? It was their obedience to God’s will. They were willing to suffer death rather than disobey their God. God was with them in the fiery furnace and he rewarded them for their faithfulness. Jesus came to do the will of his Father in heaven. He was not spared the cross which he willing embraced for our sake. His obedience reversed the curse of Adam’s disobedience. The Father crowned him with victory over sin, death, and Satan. Jesus shows us the way to true freedom and victory – by freely submitting our heart, mind, and will to an all-merciful, all-loving, and all-wise God. What the Father offers us in exchange is a kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans14:17). The happiest, freest people are those who delight in God. Their joy is the pleasure of doing the Father’s will. Do you know the joy of obeying God and trusting in his life-giving word?
The world presents us with a false notion of truth and freedom – “truth is relative so I choose my own criteria for what is true” and worldly freedom means “I can do whatever I please – regardless of what God or others might think.” This is really a mask for slavery to one’s passions and unruly desires. Jesus offers his disciples true freedom – freedom from slavery to pride and arrogance, disbelief and ignorance, selfishness and greed, hatred and revenge, fear and anxiety, despair and depression, and a host of many other hurtful desires and addictions which cripple our lives. The good news is that Jesus Christ has truly set us free from sin and its destructive force in our lives. How is this possible? Through the gift and power of the Holy Spirit we can choose to renounce sin and we can yield to God’s grace which enables us to walk each day and each moment in Christ’s way of love and holiness.
A disciple is a follower and a listener. If we want to follow Christ and live as his disciples, then we must listen to the words of Jesus, with a humble and teachable spirit. As we listen with faith and obey with trust, Christ himself gives us grace – the enabling power of his Holy Spirit – to live, think, and act in the truth of his word. Do you believe in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit to change your life and to set you free to walk in Christ’s way of love and holiness? .
“Lord Jesus, write your words of love and truth upon my heart and make me a diligent student and a worthy disciple of your word.”
Psalm 18: 25-27
25 With the loyal you show yourself loyal; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
26 with the pure you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you show yourself perverse.
27 For you deliver a humble people; but the haughty eyes you bring down.