In this week’s reading assignment from our companion book, A Woman of Words, Angela Hunt references several familiar stories from scripture. Mary, Yeshua’s mother, recalls the signs along the way pointing towards the truth about her Son. Just as Jesus was both human and divine, Mary’s role was both mother and follower.
Mary and Matthew realize they needed to collect stories from others who spent time with Yeshua. Including both individuals from His inner circle and some on the periphery. There was a lot of mystery surrounding His life. But it wasn’t their place to offer explanations.
The common mission for all who believed that Jesus was God living among us was simply to share the good news with others while waiting for His return. Our ability to carryout our mission is based on our faith.
According to scripture, Abraham was considered righteous because of his faith. Among the ways Abraham showed his faith was a familiar story about Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his own son if God asked him to do so.
He believed God was merciful and trustworthy so God would spare Issac. Scripture doesn’t say if Abraham fretted over God’s message or if there was any doubt present. There isn’t any mention or commentary about Abraham sharing God’s message ahead of time. There were no other witnesses.
So we’re left with Abraham’s testimony, as told through editors who never met Abraham and shared his story from oral tradition.
Perhaps the details don’t matter. And this includes any notion that a father unwilling to sacrifice his son is unfaithful. The specific details of this story can lead us away from the main point. Instead, what if scripture is foreshadowing the sacrifice of Jesus for all of us? God paid the price for our failures.
What if the specifics aren’t important for daily choices on our part?
Perhaps this was the case when Jesus emphasized the importance of having childlike faith.
The point may be that childlike faith helps us avoid complicating the details and keeps us focused on the core truth. We simply believe God exists, lived among people, chooses love over violence, and wants abundance for every one of us. And, in return, God asks only that we believe this to be true.
One individual Mary and Matthew spoke to was a Pharisee named Nicodemus. Fascinated with Yeshua’s knowledge of scripture, Nicodemus meets Him at night when he could do so unnoticed. But when Jesus explained to Nicodemus that we must be born again, Nicodemus was skeptical, if not baffled.
Nicodemus later realizes his holding tightly on to his prior beliefs blurred the truth for him. It wasn’t until sometime later that Nicodemus realized Jesus wasn’t literal in His explanation. Nicodemus overcomplicated the lesson.
No one can see the Kingdom of God without being born again.
Born again is about living this simple truth through our everyday choices.
During their time together, Nicodemus asks two questions for which we all long to know the answer. The first is “How can a grown man be born again?” It doesn’t seem possible that any creature can be born a second time. Jesus explains He wasn’t talking about physical birth. “Don’t take everything so literally,” Jesus seemed to respond, “Otherwise you may miss out on a critical lesson.”
The second question, “How can this be?” is in response to Jesus comparing the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation to blowing wind. Jesus responds again with words that reach far beyond this life. God loved the world enough to live among people, bringing light into the world. But sadly, not everyone believes despite God’s offer of salvation.
One of our worship band’s cover songs titled We Believe lists the common elements of what we believe to be true. We believe that God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, which gives us new life, all exist. We also believe that Jesus was crucified, resurrected, and He will return.
Faith is that simple. Truths that we hold on to despite our desperation, doubt, and fear.
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Our series was inspired by and relies on content provided by Angela Hunt. A Woman of Words. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2021.
Matthew Hooper, Richie Fike, and Travis Ryan. “We Believe.” © Integrity Worship Music; Integrity’s Praise! Music; Life Worship; Travis Ryan Music. Used with permission. CCLI License # 1180758.