In Jesus, God Puts His Money Where His Mouth Is (Lenten Scriptural Commentary #36)
by Erik Ritland
“We are called to stand up for our faith when God prompts us to, especially in the face of those who want us to compromise it.”
Fully Alive’s Lenten Scriptural Commentary helps Christians get more out of Lent by taking God’s word seriously.
Mostly avoiding personal stories and anecdotes, our commentary dives deeply into the scripture readings for each day and applies them to the broader context of Lent. We use the daily Mass readings from the Catholic lectionary.
If possible, read each passage slowly, taking in each word. If you find that you’ve hurried through a reading, read it over a few more times. Let the words reverberate in your heart. After you’ve let it sink in, read our Lenten Scriptural Commentary.
Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time
God saves the three young men in the fiery furnace, and Jesus gives a fiery oratory to those who believe in Him.
Readings: Dn 3:14-20, 91-92, 95/Jn 8:31-42
Click here to read the complete text from the USCCB website
"Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him;
they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies
rather than serve or worship any god
except their own God."
(cf. Dn 3: 14-20, 91-92, 95)
The point of the famous story of God saving Shadrach, Mesach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace is clear: God expects us to serve Him alone, even if it means putting our lives on the line.
We might not be facing the fiery furnace – and hopefully that won’t be in our future as Christians – but each day we face the temptation to not defend God and our beliefs. This doesn’t mean we have to always make everything about our faith, or always “shove it in people’s faces.” After all, we want to work for the Gospel, not become an impediment for people to accept it.
But we are indeed called to stand up for our faith when God prompts us to, especially in the face of those who want us to compromise it.
Jesus 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."
They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham
and have never been enslaved to anyone.
How can you say, 'You will become free'?"
Jesus answered them, "Amen, amen, I say to you,
everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.”
(cf. Jn 8: 31-42)
The genius of Christianity is the freedom that can be found in Christ. As John the Beloved Disciple says in his First Letter, “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” If we think we don’t sin, we repress the wrong that we do, and this literally eats us alive.
Humanity needs freedom from this logical human guilt. Of all the world religions, only Christianity offers this freedom in a concrete way. As I am fond of saying, God puts His money where His mouth is in Christ. He doesn’t look down from on high, detached, to forgive us our sins: He becomes one of us, suffers the weight of all humanity’s sin, and sets us free from our guilt. This active, intimate God desires to lead our lives, and He can if we let Him.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician. The founder of Fully Alive Christian Media, he also created The Minnesota Sport Ramble and is a writer and copy editor for Music in Minnesota. He was Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blogs Curious North and Hometown Hustle. Reach him via email.
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Erik Ritland received his MA in Theology in 2017. He's the founder and content manager of Fully Alive Christian Media and Rambling On, copy editor and writer for Music in Minnesota, and an acclaimed songwriter.