We can understand how “bad” things can turn our hearts away from God and other people. But one of the great tragedies of sin is that it can cause even good things to curve our souls inward. In our readings from Philippians 3:4b-14 and John 12:1-8, we will discover an even greater promise, though: the goodness and beauty of God’s grace can unwind our souls. No matter how good our earthly gains are, Jesus is infinitely better. Listen and discover what his goodness can do to you!
Jesus tells the beloved parable, “there was a man who had two sons,” to a group of grumbling Pharisees to open their eyes and hearts to the astounding mercy of God. In the parable from Luke 15:1-3 & 11b-32, the younger son leaves home, choosing freedom over family. When his money runs out and he’s curved in on himself from hunger and regret, he turns back toward home. The unexpected welcome from his father reminds Jesus’ listeners and us that God’s love is always bigger than our mistakes.
What would make a church into a community that people would run to? In a world where so many have abandoned the idea of church, why would anyone choose one? Words from Isaiah 55:1-9 can show us what the heart of God truly is, and how the church can become an open door to the goodness and grace of Jesus.
The Apostle Paul’s words in today’s reading from Philippians 3:14-4:1 may seem a little over the top as he describes self-centered living. But there is a reason for his strong words. When we allow our appetites to curve our hearts inward, we cover over our real selves. The grace of Christ can unwind our souls and uncover our real selves.
Let’s be honest. We can resist anything, except temptation. We aren’t able to escape it. Martin Luther’s way of describing this reality is that we are “curved in on ourselves.” But there is good news. What we can’t do (beat temptation), Jesus has done for us. Our Lenten theme this year is “Unwound,” and today’s reading from Luke 4:1-13 gives us a guide for how Jesus can use our times of trial to “unwind” our hearts, curving our souls outward in faith towards God and in love towards others. There is a way to get untangled from ourselves. It is the way of Christ. Follow him, and find your spirit opened up in faith, love, and peace.