Today marks the fifth Sunday of Lent, the beginning of Passiontide and Passion Week. Passion Sunday. Passiontide commemorates the suffering of Christ, with Passion Week lasting from Passion Sunday to Lazarus Saturday, and Holy Week, the second week, lasting from Palm Sunday to Easter. This Sunday is also know as Judica Sunday for the first line of the Introit. Psalm 42:1. "Judge me, O God."
Judica me, Deus.
The theme of this Sunday is on the continuity of God's promise. We see the promise made in the Old Testament reading in Genesis 12:1-3 to Abraham, fulfilled in Christ in John 8:48-59.
In Genesis, God makes the Abrahamic covenant, promising to make Abraham a great nation, to bless him, and to bless all peoples on the earth through him. In John, we see in Jesus's confrontation with the Pharisees how he firmly explains who he is. Don't let anyone deceive you and say that Jesus never claimed to be God. For this passage shows us at its most explicit. The Pharisees have asked Jesus if he is greater than Abraham. Jesus replies that Abraham rejoiced at the seeing of his day. The Pharisees ask for clarification. "You are not yet fifty years old, and you have seen Abraham!"
Jesus replies with a clear statement of who he truly is. "Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I AM!" The I Am is important. It's not bad grammar in the translation, as it has nothing to do with Jesus status, but his name. It's Jesus using a very specific name and attribute to describe himself. It's Jesus taking the name God revealed to Moses through the burning bush to describe himself. THE I AM.
This is why the Pharisees pick up stones to stone him. This they would consider blasphemy.
But we see the continuity of God's message. Of how the blessed the nation through Abraham, to move to Jesus to bless all. Jesus is the fulfillment of how all peoples on the earth will be blessed.
That's our hope in the Easter season. That is why we celebrate. For what God started in Abraham, he has brought to fulfillment.