The season of Lent is a time of preparation for Easter, and of repentance from sin. It is a time to consider our ways and the state of our hearts and find that only the grace of God in Christ can heal all wounds. Today’s Gospel lesson gives perhaps the most succinct and convicting statement about the dark places of our lives. Many of the religious authorities actually believed in Jesus, but they did not speak of it because they were afraid of being put out of the synagogue by the Pharisees. “For they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.”
The word “glory” has its roots in the Old Testament, and has the meaning of being weighty or heavy. In other words, we might picture God descending to earth among humankind in all his weightiness. If we were back in the ‘70s we could say, “heavy, man, heavy!” Glory is really a reference to God’s presence among us. So, if we plug this thought into the religious authorities, we see that they preferred the presence and accolades of their peers to God.
It is easy to be hard on the religious rulers in the New Testament, but this is Lent, and, so, we must shine the light of Scripture upon ourselves. Perhaps the burning question for all believers at this time of year is: Do I seek the presence of God more than the presence of anything or anyone else?
In my church the first few rows on Sunday morning are always empty. It bugs me. I don’t like it. There are times when I am more concerned about the presence of people than the presence of God in a worship service. Maybe you live in fear at work and are more concerned about the presence of people around you than the presence of God, so you keep quiet about your beliefs.
Lent is not just about identifying sin; it is about receiving grace. So, let us find that the cleansing work of the Spirit through the work of Jesus is active through our confession of sin. And let us pursue the glory of God in all we do and say as grace permeates deep in our souls.
Glorious God, your presence is awesome and appreciated. Fill me so with your presence that your glory comes shining out of me in all I do and say, through Jesus Christ my Savior, and Lord. Amen.