This is the most painful time of the year. And to be honest, Lent is an odd liturgical season.

We do the complete opposite of what we think we normally should do. We are usually taught that we should lift our pains and our sorrows up to God and that Christ will help us bare these burdens. But during Lent, we are asked not to lift things up to God in Christ but we are asked to give up on giving away our sufferings. In fact, we are asked to take on not just everyday human burdens but somehow also to take on the burdens of Christ or at least to imagine what it would be like to take on those burdens. However for some, Lent may seem more like a hurdle or hindrance to God than any kind of help. What does Lent preach to the mother who lost her son in the Newtown shootings? What does Lent preach to the young woman who just attempted suicide? Does Lent simply preach suffering to those who have little pain and more suffering to those who have pain in abundance? The fact is that Lent is only a part of the story and so without the complete telling then we miss the true message. It’s the same with today’s Scripture which must be put into context. So, Jesus comes to the Temple in Nazareth. Jesus obtains the scroll of Isaiah. And then presents the reading, but wait. It’s not the lectionary offering. Jesus seems to have just plucked from here and there and created an amalgamation for his reading. This seems audacious enough but Jesus goes one step further. For what does Jesus preach after reading, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me/Because he has anointed me…” Jesus opens with, “Today the scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” It could have been and most likely was interpreted as: I am Jesus. I am the fulfillment of this scripture. I am the Messiah. But Jesus is not preaching out of a place of arrogance as much as a place of righteous confidence. Jesus just prior to this had spent forty days in the wilderness being tempted by the Devil. Jesus had not eaten anything and he responds to a demand of the Devil by saying, “Man shall not live on bread alone...” which is a quotation from Deuteronomy 8:3 which finishes by saying, “but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Jesus had spent forty days feeding on the Word of the Lord, a faith in that Word. And ultimately, Jesus’ faith was fulfilled as he truly recognized himself as the son of God, the Messiah The whole story shows us the fulfillment of faith. Just as Jesus had a confident faith in being the Messiah, we can have a confident faith that our story does not end in the suffering of Lent but continues into the resurrection, into new life and eternal life. So as I roll up the scroll of today’s scripture, we can take the words of Jesus to heart and keep the faith that, “Today this scripture is fulfilled…”

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