Today’s Scripture Reading: Psalm 63, 98; Daniel 9:3-10; Hebrews 2:10-18; John 12:44-50
Today’s Writer: Paul Ulishney
Following Jesus requires faith.
It sounds elementary, but professing a belief in Jesus Christ as Messiah is utterly radical. It is a claim that requires great faith – particularly in the eyes of our skeptical world, in which faith without evidence is looked down upon gravely.
Let’s revisit just a few things that Christians believe in:
1. This man, Jesus, was born of a virgin.
2. He was not only a man, but simultaneously God.
3. He performed miracles like feeding five thousand men (much more if you include women and children) with the equivalent of a meal for two.
4. He was crucified on the Cross and then rose to life three days later.
None of us have seen these things. And when we really think about them, they are simply wild and bewildering. But we all still believe that they have happened for various reasons. Ultimately, though, we can never prove God’s existence, or prove that Jesus died on the cross and rose again. Nor should we.
Too often Christians are enculturated to the society that we live in, and it just happens that we live in a secular society obsessed with data and facts. There is a thorough split between fact (science) and fiction (religion). This is actually a relatively new phenomenon; we owe this dichotomy to a kind old chap named Immanuel Kant (who, ironically, thought he was saving Christianity by splitting the two up). This information may seem irrelevant to Lent, but trust me, it is!
Our world demands provable answers. And often, we can’t give them. We are then declared to be the losers. Game over? Not quite.
In short, applying the same standards to God that we apply to the natural world simply doesn’t work. There are different methods for discerning truth depending on what you study. The pursuit of God takes on a much different shape than our world expects it to have. And no matter who we are, we all, when taking things seriously, find ourselves completely enamored with the story of this man Jesus Christ. We simply cannot escape the fact that even if Christians are frustrating, that man, that Jesus… He knew what He was talking about.
Belief in the God-man Jesus Christ may appear to be absurd to the outside world. But as we reflect on what happened to Him during this period of Lent, culminating in the events of Good Friday and Easter, we know that it is near-impossible to not be affected by it. So, I invite all those reflecting on what this journey means to step out in their faith, be it only the size of a mustard seed, and reflect on what Jesus’ last days meant – beyond science, politics, and any sort of reasonableness or unreasonableness. Even if it seems absolutely absurd that a man would be crucified by the governing Jewish and Roman authorities two thousand years ago for the sake of our sin, let us put the “absurdity” aside and ask: why? Why did this man take the fate He did?
The God of the Bible makes it clear that He has deemed it desirable to enter into communication with us, and He has done this through the incarnation. During this time of reflection, let us never forget the radical faith we must have in God – for if the author to the Hebrews is right, we cannot please God if not for this faith.