Again Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and though you look for me, you will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come.” The Jews wondered, “Why does he say that we can’t come where he is going? Will he kill himself?”
But Jesus said, “You are from below and I am from above; you are of this world and I am not of this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. And you shall die in your sins, unless you believe that I am He.”
They asked him, “Who are you?”; and Jesus said, “Just what I have told you from the beginning. I have much to say about you and much to condemn; but the One who sent me is truthful and everything I learned from him, I proclaim to the world.”
They didn’t understand that Jesus was speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He and that I do nothing of myself, but I say just what the Father taught me. He who sent me is with me and has not left me alone; because I always do what pleases him.” As Jesus spoke like this, many believed in him.
The message of life and choice of life is strong not only in the gospels but also in the entire Bible. We are summoned to choose life and not death. For the Pharisees to insinuate that Jesus was going to commit suicide in today’s gospel is serious as it is anathema in Jewish teachings from the beginning. In effect they were accusing Jesus of going against the teaching to honor life. In their incomprehension, they conjectured that if Jesus committed suicide, he would go to a place of judgment where they would not be able to follow him. This was such a fatal misinterpretation on their part, totally misunderstanding what Jesus said or hardheartedly rejecting him and his message out of spite and envy. Ironically, the reference to suicide could be applied to them and to us, as unbelief is like suicide in rejecting Jesus’ offer of life. When we reject God who is the source of life, we are fundamentally opting for death. During this Lenten season, God is inviting us to ask ourselves these honest questions: What is keeping us from truly believing in Jesus and his life-giving message? What is blocking our faith?
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