Our readings from the New Testament present Jesus as the sought-after teacher and the high priest who is also the one who suffers and dies. The passage we will read from the letter to the Hebrews is a kind of sermon depicting Jesus’ suffering and crying out in prayer and supplication as an experience that makes him both an example for us and the source of our salvation. His obedience and reliance on the Father’s mercy both extend to us, as well. The reading from John’s gospel contains what must have been a cryptic message to his followers: “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” They would eventually learn what he meant. It was, and is, a hard lesson. But it is a lesson of the greatest promise.
The readings from the Hebrew scripture offer us the most direct messages concerning our own hearts and lives. In the reading from Jeremiah, God announces the coming of a new covenant, one written on the hearts of God’s people; no longer will they need to be taught—God’s law will become so instinctual, so close within us, that we will know from within that we are God’s people. The psalmist offers us a pattern of repentance and renewal: “I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me,” he writes, with complete confidence in God’s mercy and in its power to make us “clean” and let us know “joy and gladness.”
As the journey of Lent nears its end, I hope that you will draw closer to Christ in his suffering and find there power and hope for your own transformation, and for the transforming of the world.