Jesus is clear about his purpose. “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10). And Scripture is equally clear that many don’t want the gift Jesus brings. In Mark’s Gospel a steady stream of the religious approach Jesus to try and trap him. Chief priests, scribes, and elders question his authority. Pharisees and Herodians put him to a test they hope he’ll fail. Sadducees who say there is no resurrection are suddenly concerned about matrimony in the afterlife. Jesus declares them wrong and wonders if it’s because they “know neither the scriptures nor the power of God” (v. 24).
Like the religious of Jesus’ day, we often fail to embrace the life-filled gifts of Christ. But whenever we give ourselves to God, we step away from death and choose abundant life. Jesus tells the Sadducees, And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the story about the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is God not of the dead, but of the living (vv. 26-27).
We know the moments when we’ve stepped away from the God of the living. When we settle for looking compassionate instead of being actively concerned. When we reduce God’s deep and wide love to a limited list of those we are willing to welcome. When we cheapen God’s grace and make opinions about God more important than experiences of God. When we let spiritual arrogance replace holy humility.
Jesus challenges all of us to see how dead our faith can be. If we take Jesus at his word that God is not the God of the dead but the living, I have one serious, burning question: when will we bury our dead faith so that we can experience new life?
What idea about God do you need to release so that you will experience God’s new life?
God of the living—even those who are barely living—continue to breathe new life into us. Amen.