It is an astonishing fact that Jesus never laid out a theology. He lived and died. He healed and sacrificed. He never laid out the whys and the wherefores. Jesus was about challenging us to see. Jesus was about describing the Kingdom and how we could participate in it. He described his relationship with God and our relationships too but little if anything about the theology of God. Jesus has a prophetic voice not a theologian’s voice. Jesus invited us to participate. His parables called us to seek understandings. He didn’t really explain how it all worked. Maybe to his disciples in private as it says at the end of John, but not per se in the Gospels and especially not the Gospel of Mark.
Paul on the other hand gave and taught an understanding of how things work, theology. Especially in Romans. He more than any other could be seen as the first and greatest Christian theologian, and today we hear his idea about faith and the law. Faith and the law these were primary themes for him – the Law he referred to was the Laws of Moses – the laws of the Torah – the ones Saul the Pharisee had been tasked with enforcing – well today we hear Paul talk about the Abrahamic Covenant between Abraham and his descendants and God – Paul reminded us that this covenant took place before the Laws of Moses were given and he – Paul – reasoned they were bestow or entered into because of Abraham’s faith and his righteousness – God entered into a covenant with Abraham not because he followed the Law but because he was righteous, upstanding, did what was right and proper and Abraham was righteous because of his faith – therefore the most important thing is faith – we and Abraham are righteous because we have faith – we do what is right in the eyes of God because we believe in God
And oh what faith it must have taken for Abraham – He was promised a son – and God didn’t deliver right away – God waited, apparently – twenty five years to make good on his pledge – Paul tells us that we too must have that kind of faith – because Paul and the early Christians were also waiting – they were waiting for Jesus’ return and as the years passed it became evident that it wasn’t going to happen right away – Paul was explaining all this and all he believed as a way of introduction to the Christians in Rome
All things are possible through faith – faith in our relationship with the human face of God – that we believe is Jesus – and what is the biggest miracle that comes about through that faith – why a living breathing relationship with God – the same being who entered into relationship with Abraham – We are promised in our New Covenant that we can know God by and through the Love of Jesus – We won’t need the Law – we won’t need to become and act like the Jews – we can remain Gentiles and still be in a covenantal relationship with God – It was Paul who explained this to us through his writings – what a revelation that must have been to the people of his time – it’s a revelation to us today when it truly dawns on us – even though we live in a culture in part defined by the teachings of Paul – often times we forget that we can and do have a relationship with the center of all being
Jesus asked us to live a God centered life – to see God as the center – to act as though all that truly matters is God and is of God – Jesus showed us what it meant to have faith in this Living God – to trust in God even up to and through death – he tell his disciples this in Mark’s Gospel – he lets them know that the God centered path he is walking will lead to his death – and when Peter asks him to say this isn’t so he truly didn’t know what he was asking – Jesus didn’t explain it to him – he didn’t tell him – Peter you are asking me to leave the path that is God centered – a path that men who cherish power and authority will despise because it shows the lie that they aren’t more special than the ones they persecute – they will kill me because the love of God is the most important thing – more important than money or power – or even this transitory life – because by holding out for the transitory – the mortal – we end just like all mortals end – and the men of power hate that you all might see the truth
Jesus was telling his disciples they must lead God centered lives because in reality life is God centered – if they think to sacrifice temporary safety will lead to prosperity and happiness – they will lose out – but if they live for the Gospel – which is the Good News that God is here and heaven is now they will exist in righteousness – doing what is right in God’s eyes – Jesus just told us this – he didn’t explain it – he didn’t even talk about who he was – at least in the Gospel of Mark – he left that to others to explain – to Paul to explain
Sometimes we must wait to experience the promises that leading a life of righteousness will bring – sometimes we will have been living the promises of a God centered life and not be able to see it – that happens because our human mortal consciousness has a problem holding the truth of divinity for more than a moment – such are the temptations and trials of life – what is time in the realm of the infinite? – that is what is meant by God’s time is not our time – when however we turn our faces towards the center which is of God and live in harmony and love as is meet and right for us to do – we can experience the miracle which is Jesus in our lives – feel the power of the Spirit – know the study of God is not always the love of God – and we too live in a wicked and sinful generation – and by that I mean a human and messy world which distracts us from who God is – and it may be costly to preach and live lives based upon love for each other – still that is what Jesus admonishes us to do – no matter what
So the rest of this Lent if you perchance find yourself not acting out of Love – not acting out of a faith in God – then perhaps remember that the grace of God which will call you home is a free gift – it is not earned by following a set of Laws – it was there before Abraham or Moses – before Jesus lived or Paul – and it will be there calling you back to the center of all being when we have the faith to see it