Bible · faith · God · Theology

We Know Only In Part …

… but we’re getting there.

Rob Bell “I’m going to try and create a space where hope is the most rational response to the world …
I love that thought, and basically I’m with it, but it didn’t seem like that on the first Good Friday.

Today is Good Friday – Friday April 2nd 2021

One of my readings for today was from lamentations:
I am one who has seen affliction
    under the rod of God’s wrath;
he has driven and brought me
    into darkness without any light;
against me alone he turns his hand,
    again and again, all day long.

This is the cry of desolation at the laying waste of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple. It’s a place of no hope. It is echoed in the cry of Jesus on the cross – ‘My God, why have you forsaken me ?’

No hope.

Also in my readings for today was psalm 95. A strange psalm it seemed to me.
But in the middle of the psalm, these words are addressed to God’s people:

O that today you would listen to his voice!
    Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
    as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
when your ancestors tested me,
    and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.

In verse 9, I saw something that resonated with me to do with what happened on that first Good Friday.

The Old Testament is full of God’s faithfulness, in the face of Israel’s unfaithfulness.
It’s as though all the way through, Israel are pushing God to see how far God will go. In spite of the work of God in liberating Israel from slavery, they forget, and abandon the love they have had for God. Is there a point at which God will say – ‘That’s it! I’ve had enough of you people.’

In fact, it does appear at times as though God does say exactly that. But then something happens, and God’s faithfulness reappears, just as the sun reappears from behind clouds.

And today, Good Friday, is a day when it seems like the human race is testing God again. ‘They put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.’
In spite of all that Jesus has said and done, he is now rejected. In Jesus, the world has witnessed the works and character of God revealed in Jesus in a new way, and yet still people put God to the test. Jesus is pushed to see how far his love will go. The soldiers around the cross shout – ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’ This is a challenge to see how far God’s love will go.

Sam Wells talks about the cross in this way:
The cross is the moment when Jesus had to choose being with the Father, or with us, and he chooses us.  And at the same time, the Father has to choose between letting the Son be with us, or keeping the Son to himself. Such is God’s commitment to us that chooses to let the Son be with us. 

This is the faithfulness of God in the face of human unfaithfulness.

Sam Wells again (paraphrased) talking about Easter day:
This day. this Easter day, this wondrous, glorious, blessed, fabulous day is the greatest day in the history of the universe. It tells us that however deeply we reject God, whatever we throw at God, God will find a way back to us in resurrection.  And – this resurrected, real flesh and blood body of Jesus, tells us that we too can have that life – and that our eternal destiny is to be with God, as God is, and always has been, with us. 

Now that is hope ! Thanks be to God.

Grace and peace.

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