40 Days to the Cross: A Devotional for Lent
Confession: Psalm 38:1–5
O Yahweh, do not rebuke me in your anger
or chastise me in your wrath.
For your arrows have sunk into me,
and your hand has pressed down on me.
There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation.
There is no health in my bones because of my sin.
For my iniquities have passed over my head;
like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.
My wounds start to stink; they rot
because of my foolishness.
Reading: Mark 11:27–33
And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came up to him and said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority that you do these things?” So Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question. Answer me and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. The baptism of John—was it from heaven or from men? Answer me!” And they began to discuss this with one another, saying, “What should we say? If we say ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men’ ”—they were afraid of the crowd, because they all looked upon John as truly a prophet. And they replied to Jesus saying, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
Jesus, for the sake of men, desired to have Himself revealed by a lamp to the faith of those who believed, that by means of the same lamp His enemies might be confounded.… And the Lord, because they shut the door against themselves by professing ignorance of what they know, did not open to them because they did not knock. For it is said, “Knock, and the door will be opened for you” (Matt 7:7 NRSV). Not only did these not knock that it might be opened to them, but, by denying that they knew, they barred that door against themselves. And the Lord says to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things” (Matt 21:27 NRSV). And they were confounded by means of John; and in them were the words fulfilled, “I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed. His enemies will I clothe with shame.”
—AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO
LECTURES OR TRACTATES ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN
The exchange between the Pharisees and Jesus in Mark 11:26–33 shows both the Pharisees’ unwillingness to believe in Jesus and their unwillingness to state their beliefs publicly (because of their fear of the crowds). Is there a time in your life when you responded to the gospel in the same way?