John 7:32-36

During the season of Lent our devotions have been written by members of Faith Lutheran Church. Today’s writer is Kathy Patrick.

The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering such things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent temple police to arrest him. Jesus then said, “I will be with you a little while longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. You will search for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.”

The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? What does he mean by saying, ‘You will search for me and you will not find me’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?” John 7:32-36

“What does he mean?” Why can we not go where Jesus goes?

I was raised in a faith tradition that emphasizes individual, personal confession of sins. Yes, we’d rather not. Yes, we flinch when we ponder what we’ve done. But, yes, if we fail to do so “we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

Each time I went to confession, something holy happened. But there’s one confession I’ll never forget.

I went to confession spewing frustration and exclaimed to Father Jacques, “So now I’m here. And I keep asking myself, ‘What would Jesus do?’” And Father Jacques laughed out loud and said, “Well, that may be the silliest question ever! Why would you ask that? Jesus was both God and a 30 year old celibate man. You’re not God. You’re a married woman with two kids. Jesus didn’t face your troubles, so the question isn’t ‘What would Jesus do?’ it’s ‘What would Jesus want you to do?’”

In that moment, I heard the answer to the question, “What does he mean?”

What Jesus meant is that he is God and we are not. What Jesus meant was that he’d made me free to face my sin, to confess it, and to move on from it, knowing I would be forgiven again, in an endless cycle of love and mercy. And having received that forgiveness, I am free to pray openly,

Let us pray: “What do you mean, Lord? What, today, would you have me do?” And then, in silence, I listen…

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