Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Picture Windows

And he marveled because of their unbelief.  And he went about among the villages teaching.  -- Mark 6:6

We have talked about this before, but faith gets a lot of coverage in the Bible, and I reckon there’s a good reason for that.  The people who caused Jesus to marvel were those from His hometown, and it brings us back to the point of faith being a matter of the object of attention.  The crowds in Jerusalem and around the rest of the country saw the miracles.  The people of Nazareth saw the boy who had lived among them and grown up.  Both missed the point.

Many followed Jesus because He fed them and healed them.  They listened to His teaching because, though He was saying many of the things they had heard before, it was coming across on a different frequency and bringing something else with it.  It had a life to it that went through them like a current.  It is the difference between an apple you pull off a tree and the processed and packaged “apple pie” at the fast food dispenser.   Eat raw fruit or vegetables and you can feel a surge that you never get from eating something that has been pre-digested. 

I have had conversations about why miracles no longer happen.  First, I reject that premise as I have been witness to a number of them.  But let’s accept that we do not often see people healed by the Pope’s shadow – as was the case with Peter.  Some suggest that the difference is the absence of the Incarnate Christ.  There, though, Jesus was walking around in the flesh, yet no great healings or miracles were taking place.  What was the problem in Nazareth?  They could not get past the meat of the Incarnation.  They could not see the IN. 

Paul warns against engaging in Communion without discerning the Body.  In another passage, he tells us that the letter kills while it is the Spirit who gives life.  If we can’t get past the forms, the rituals, the pictures, and the letters, we are trapped.  We can become bound in the rope God has thrown us to climb.  Look through the window – not at it. 

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17).  We hear the truth, and we see, no longer, the person but the Person; we get past the vehicle.  “Look a talking donkey!”  Yes, but old Balaam needed to know what the donkey had to say, which is why she started talking.  When he heard it, his eyes were opened and he saw the destruction to which his path led. 

Through the Cross, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus brings to us a new kind of life.  We become the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, branches of the Vine.  When you look around at everybody else and even when you look in the mirror, you need to be looking through the window, past the meat, to the Light and the Life. 

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