I say this so that you may be saved. 

Sometimes Jesus’ words make people uncomfortable. In today’s Gospel, for example, he calls out the people who don’t believe in him. He says that some of them think they have a special “in” with God. They are so focused on interpreting the Scriptures that they can’t see that God is standing right in front of them in the person of Jesus (John 5:39-40).

If Jesus sounds overly critical to us, we may be missing the message of God’s love that is always at the core of his words. So let’s see if we can find that message.

One way that God showed his love was by preparing his people for Jesus’ coming. Through the words of Scripture and prophets like John the Baptist, he urged them to “prepare the way of the Lord” (Isaiah 40:3; see John 5:33-35, 46-47). Jesus’ miracles also testified to his divine power (John 5:36).

Another way that God showed his love—and continues to do so—was by revealing truth through Jesus. Jesus spoke very bluntly to the people because he wanted to make that truth very clear to them, and to us. He wants us to be aware of our sins and how they can separate us from God: “I say this so that you may be saved” (John 5:34). His desire isn’t to punish us, but to lead us into a deeper relationship with his Father so that we will want to serve and follow him.

Jesus gave us these proofs of his love in today’s Gospel to help us understand and embrace who he is and what he came to do for us. It can be challenging to keep the flame of faith alive in our hearts, and if Jesus’ words shake us up a bit, that can be a good thing. Sometimes we need him to fan the flame so that our faith burns more brightly and so that we can think and act more like him in this world.

So if this passage is a little hard to hear, look at it as an ever-present call from your loving Father, who is always trying to reach you. Always—always—look for the love that is at the heart of every one of God’s messages. And let that love fill your heart and change you.

“Jesus, your word is always true and good and beautiful. Open my heart to receive the love you have for me today.”

Exodus 32:7-14
Psalm 106:19-23
John 5:31-47


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