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Lenten Devotional: Mar 21

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Today’s Texts: Exodus 3:16-4:12; Romans 12:1-12; John 8:46-59

Jesus can be maddening. In the interaction in John 8:46-59, Jesus and the Pharisees thrust and parry in a match of words. But the results turn nasty as the questions escalate. It results in the questioners picking up stones to throw at Jesus.

The Pharisees asked, “Are you demon possessed?” several times.  Jesus denies this but redirects in ways that are confusing. He brings in his Father, glory, everlasting life. They continue with the questions, “Are you greater than Abraham?” The frustration continues as they continue to press into his answers for clarity and challenge.

There is obstinacy in the Pharisees that I find unnervingly familiar. They have a picture of Jesus, probably a very sophisticated, developed one, based on years of study and devotion. And yet, the Jesus of the flesh stretches and challenges all of that. It brings them to the point of frustration and ultimately rejection. And I wonder if I do the same.

When my interactions with Jesus don’t go as I imagined they would go, what is my response? Do I hold onto my picture of Jesus, and reject any evidence to the contrary. Or do I hold with an open hand my picture of Jesus and allow it to evolve and move.

As an Asian American, I find that I’m quick to assess situations, and determine my role and act accordingly. But that also involves a quick assessment of others. Defer to the older person in the room with the PhD. Speak up in the room of younger folks. Who should we ask to pray for the meal? Do I translate these quick judgments from my daily AA existence into quick judgments on God?

Lord, let me sit in a posture before you that is always open to the surprises that you bring and the ways that you operate beyond the boundaries I set for you.

* * * *

Nikki Toyama Szeto

Nikki Toyama-Szeto is the Program Director of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship‘s Urbana 09 and the co-editor of More Than Serving Tea: Asian American Women on Expectations, Relationships, Leadership And Faith. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and daughter.

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