How Much Evidence Do We Need?
Friday of Week 4 in Lent
Exod. 32:7-14 & Jn. 5:31-47
After all God had done for His chosen people, saving them from the hand of Pharaoh and the Egyptians with wonders and miracles, they were fickle and unfaithful. They made for themselves a calf of molten metal to worship. To such a loving God they could not have been more ungrateful and stupid! As a result God wanted to abandon them but Moses pleaded with Him not to do so for their idolatry. His prayer was so powerful that God relents.
It is impossible to show something to someone who is determined not to see it. 'There are none so blind as those who do not wish to see' is the old saying. This was the problem that Jesus encountered in the Scribes and Pharisees who were determined that Jesus was not the Messiah. On that issue their minds were made up; their eyes were closed and they would not see. All the evidence in the world was not going to make them ever change their minds.
This was what Jesus was talking about in today's Gospel reading. He simply recited the evidence that was available to them. For one thing, there was His testimony. He professed to be the Messiah. Then there was the witness of John the Baptist. He had pointed to Jesus, and called Him the "Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world." Next, there were the works, the deeds that Jesus had done healing the sick, feeding the hungry and even raising the dead to life, just to mention a few. Then there was what Jesus referred to as the testimony of the Father. Finally, there was the witness of the Scriptures. Jesus said, "They testify on My behalf" and again "If you really believed Moses, you would believe Me too, since it was I that he was writing about.”
But all of this accumulated evidence had failed to communicate anything to the Scribes and Pharisees: they did not want to listen, for if they accepted Jesus as Messiah, it would involve a change in their way of life.
History makes even more demands on us to accept Jesus. We have the evidence of the New Testament, none of which was written until after Our Lord's death and resurrection. We also have the tradition of the Church throughout 2,000 years of Christian history. We are convinced that Jesus is the Son of God - but do we live up to our convictions?
It is easy to pay lip-service to Jesus as the Messiah, but that is not what believing means. Jesus spoke of some people who called Him 'Lord' but did not do His father’s will. Jesus is challenging us, just as He challenged the Pharisees.
Do we believe in His way of love strongly enough to live by it? Can we love our enemies? Forgive seventy times seven? Turn the other cheek? Repay evil with good? We know to follow Jesus we must be constantly changing our lives and trying to be holy.
Lord Jesus, following You is a lifelong task and not something that can be achieved overnight, and every saint faced the same struggle in order to reach Heaven. May they inspire us to follow them.