Tuesday, March 31, 2009

No Room Among You

April 1, 2009

Wednesday of the Fifth Week in Lent

If our God, whom we serve, can save us from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us! But even if he will not, know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue which you set up." Daniel 3:17-18

Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in him, "If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:31-32


Jesus, help the truth of your life in us set us free from our slavery to the altar of consumerism and affluence. Amen.


Room. No room. The choice is ours. From his humblest beginning, all the Lord was looking for was a place. Some hospitality from a local innkeeper. A place to lie his head while walking around the Holy Land. A place in the hotel in our hearts. Yet from the outset, Jesus was always fighting for a room.

We focus a lot of attention in John’s Gospel on themes of light and darkness, living water and signs offered or miracles performed. Another theme we will find woven throughout this poetic narrative is the idea of offering Jesus a place of honor in our minds, on our lips and in our hearts. In the opening prologue, John writes about how Jesus’ own people did not accept him. The disciples also struggle with making room for Jesus in their lives as if the Lord only needs a bed.

Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher), "where are you staying?" He said to them, "Come, and you will see." So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. John 1:38-39

Jesus wants more than just physical space to lay his head. He needs some place where the Word can rest. That is why ne needs our minds, hearts and souls.

Not only does Jesus want a place in our house, he will prepare a place for us in his Father’s house. He wants to protect his Father’s house from any way in which humanity might defile it. So he throws out the temple merchants and money-changers. "Zeal for your house will consume me."

Even the discussion with Nicodemus hinges on the misunderstanding of a tangible location or place. Nicodemus at first confuses the literal meaning of Jesus words with the metaphorical meaning.

Nicodemus said to him, "How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother's womb and be born again, can he?" Jesus answered, "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. John 3:4-5

Even after performing some of the first signs or miracles, we read that “Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his native place.” This can be read literally as the physical geographic land of his people or more aptly as no place in the hearts of his beloved people. Our slavery to sin prevented our ancestors then and prevents us now from freely providing Jesus with the room he seeks. However, in the Lord’s infinite generosity, that never stops him from doing everything possible to make sure there is a place for us in his Father’s house.

In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. John 14:2-3

In the end, Jesus offers his whole life in prayer for us that we may make room for him in our hearts.

When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely. I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. John 17:12-14


In the end, Jesus request of us is a simple one: Follow me. Just like the simple covenant in the Hebrew Bible where the God of our ancestors just wants to walk around with us…be with us. What change are you seeking this Lenten season? What place are you preparing for Jesus?

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