Jesus, getting closer and closer to what many presume he knew was coming, begins to lose patience. We don't see him completely lose his temper, but I get the sense that he is definitely frustrated. Although Mark's gospel moves at a significantly faster pace than the other gospels, Jesus has still been ministering for some time and apparently, the religious leaders of his time still don't get it.
Gal 2:20-21, 3:26-29
20 and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.
26 for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27 As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.
There are days I think I know everything. I'm the kind of person who inherently loves to learn, whether it's about deep, theological issues or the process of making single malt scotch. But I have a bad habit: when someone asks me a question about a particular topic, I have this tendency to pretend as if I know the answer, as if I have a clue what they're talking about. It's usually simple questions that evoke this response from me: Have you seen this movie or TV show, read this book, heard of this author, been to this place, etc. I don't like not knowing the answer. I don't like not knowing what's going on around me.
Sometimes to get the end result you desire, you have to do things differently. With photographers, it might be a different lens, a different filter, or simply getting down in the dirt for the shot you really want. For musicians, it might be new strings, reeds, or pedals, new chords or progressions. For writers, it might mean letting go of the comfort of writing in passive voice and learning how to exude confidence through active voice.
MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Loneliness for me has several sources, too many to name here, too personal to divulge at the present moment. But I've had moments—glimpses—where I've found a source of my loneliness and have been able to chip away at it, speaking truth to the power it holds over me. Everytime I go back to this source, I come away feeling a little more whole, a little more like the man God created me to be, a little more equipped to do the work and live into the vocation God has called me to do and to live into.
Between all of these courses, the amount of time spent discussing the nature, character, and work of Jesus is mind-boggling. Often times it's been frustrating because it feels as if we're just rehashing age-old arguments and questions. Sometimes I wish I could just start over from scratch.
If I were to do this, at least according to the author of Colossians (some say Paul, some say otherwise), I would still have to start with Christ, both the incarnated Jesus and the eternal Logos. No matter what, Jesus is the firstborn, the Creator. Jesus is the glue that keeps everything together. For the church, Jesus is at the top of the pyramid, the pinnacle. Furthermore, here we read that in Christ, God's fullness dwelt. Everything that God is, Jesus is.
The point is: while some like to harp on God's righteousness and holiness, separating those traits from God's graciousness and mercy, as far as I can see it, the various components of God's character are as tangled up and hopelessly inseparable from each other as the souls in Harper's apocalypse. If anything, God's holiness is subject to God's mercy, and God's righteousness submits to God's love. We as a human race are still here. There hasn't been fire yet rained down.
I clicked on profiles to see what some friends had been up to. And in several cases, the friends who got chopped were friends with whom I no longer felt any connection or shared any common ground. After years of living in different cities and states, we had become strangers. It might even be safe to say that, were they to chase after me on the street, I'd run from them. I wouldn't know them from any other stranger.
Connect this idea with how I've been feeling about God. Maybe I've been running because the voice I hear isn't the voice I've been used to. Maybe I've been running because it's been too long since I really heard God's voice to recognize it from that of a stranger. Is this making any sense?
One word comes to mind when I read this passage: helpless. When it comes to garnering favor from the Creator, there is not a damn thing I can do to increase my odds. The fact is that God's grace is already being poured out on me (and in my opinion, all of us) to its maximum capacity: infinitely. Unlike what many of us have experienced with other members of the human race, there's nothing we can do to make God love us any more—or less. As far as God's goodness, kindness, love, etc. are concerned, we don't have access to the control panel.