You search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf.
But you do not want to come to me to have life.
Today's readings from Exodus and the Gospel of John describe two intense arguments. In the Old Testament text we hear Moses strenuously defending his ungrateful people before the God who has been dishonored. He must use mighty powers of logic and reason to persuade God to restrain his punishing arm.
In the New Testament text we hear Jesus appealing to his Jewish opponents to see and hear the testimony of Saint John the Baptist, of Jesus' works, of the Father who clearly enables his works, and of the scriptures, especially Moses.
In the face of all these witnesses can any reasonable person deny Jesus' authority as Messiah and Lord, as the Son of God? But they do not want to come to him to have life.
Despite our claims to be reasonable, we're more often guided by our fears and desires. This season of Lent, with its call to prayers, fasting and almsgiving, reminds us of how reluctant we are to follow the evidence we see and the persuasive arguments that makes sense of that evidence. Not even the best trial lawyer, laying it all out in careful order, could persuade those who do not want to come to him.
In the first reading we realize that God has listened to reason. The Lord who is all-powerful, who need bow to no one and no thing, submits to reason and shows mercy to his people. This prefigures the humility of Jesus who will submit to religious and civil authorities, who will stand trial and be condemned, who will be crucified not for his sins but for ours.
We pray that we also see and hear the testimony, listen to reason, repent of our sins and welcome the saving, merciful authority of Jesus.