by Erik Ritland
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.
Third Sunday of Lent
God appears to Moses in the burning bush, Paul lays out the high standard of being a Christian, and Jesus has some harsh words.
Readings: Ex 3:1-8a, 13-15/1 Cor 10:1-6, 10-12/Lk 13:1-9
Click here to read the complete text from the USCCB website
Moses said to God, “But when I go to the Israelites
and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’
if they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?”
God replied, “I am who am.”
Then he added, “This is what you shall tell the Israelites:
I AM sent me to you.”
(cf Ex 3: 1-8a, 13-15)
God is beyond words, beyond names. The first question Moses asks God is for His name. He wants God to be something that he can fit in his head, that he can wrap his mind around, that he can bring down to his level.
God does reveal Himself to us in a way we can understand, but it is not on our terms. We don’t get to “name” God; God is not simple enough to be named.
This passage gets to the heart of the question of the existence of God: God reaches down to humanity, but is also beyond our comprehension. It is one of the many foundational paradoxes at the heart of the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Some people told Jesus about the Galileans
whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.
Jesus said to them in reply,
"Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way
they were greater sinners than all other Galileans?
By no means!
But I tell you, if you do not repent,
you will all perish as they did!
(cf Lk 13: 1-9)
As I often say, the Biblical Jesus (that is, the real Jesus) is far from the Hippie Jesus that we are often fed in popular culture. His message is not all rainbows and sunshine, as this passage shows.
Throughout Lent, the Church chooses readings that deal with our misdeeds, our need to repent, God’s overflowing forgiveness, and the new life He expects us to live in Him.
Notice that there are four pillars there, not just one. Jesus accepts everyone for who they are, but He also has high standards for what they are to be if they follow Him (“take up your cross and follow me,” for instance).
It is a gross misreading of the New Testament to paint Jesus as a hippie who just loves everyone and doesn’t have any standards for those who follow Him.
Yes, He loves us. Yes, He forgives us. But we have to come to Him, repent, and change our lives to live in accordance with the Kingdom He has ushered in.
If we don’t, we aren’t really following Him at all.
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.
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.