Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent
(Exodus 32:7-14; John 5:31-47)
Someone once asked a prominent lawyer what is the crucial factor in a winning case. The questioner proposed different alternatives like a fair judge, a sympathetic jury, or a cooperative client. The lawyer responded that none of these were as helpful as one credible witness. In the gospel today Jesus presents several credible witnesses to the Jews that he is the Son of God.
Specifically, Jesus points to John the Baptist, his miracles, the Father, and the Scriptures as witnesses to his claim. John said earlier in the gospel (1:34) that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus has also performed mighty works like turning water into wine. The Father testifies within the hearts of Jesus’ own disciples who follow him unreservedly. Finally, the Scriptures give testimony to Jesus by such statements as “Zeal for your house will consume me” (2:17) when he throws the merchants out of the Temple.
We are not to blame the Jews in the gospel for denying that Jesus is God’s Son. If they could have looked objectively, they would have seen him as divine. But the Jews were committed to the view that the Messiah would achieve military wonders. We do not share that expectation. Rather we accept Jesus as an elder brother who sacrifices his life for our welfare. His example shows us how to practice virtue. More importantly, his death wakes us from the sinful inclination to live for ourselves.