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Day #28: Saturday, March 28

Netflix Weekend

Messiah: Episode 8

Clip: 13:00 – 18:00

Old Testament: Isaiah 55

New Testament: Matthew 13:10-17

Practice: Journaling

Music: “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2; “Seek Ye First;” “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” by Roland Hayes

            For 2,000 years, we have had a bound set of Jesus’ teaching found in the New Testament. It’s been read, dissected, preached from, and studied more times and in more languages than we can wrap our minds around. It is rich, life-giving, and abounding in wisdom, but when you think about it, the Bible isn’t really that big. I mean, you can read all the words of Jesus in a couple hours. Jesus lived for over thirty years, ministered for at least three, and the entire record that we have can be read in about as much time as it takes to watch a movie nowadays. The picture of Jesus holding a press conference for the media, in this episode of Messiah, begins with him saying, “I hear you have some questions for me” is as hilarious as it is true. Questions? Do we ever!

            What I especially like about this clip is how it illustrates how frustrating and challenging it must have been to talk with Jesus. His insistence on parables and tendency to answer a question with a question must have driven people crazy! And yet, as the movie clip highlights, Jesus remained engaging and captured the attention of everyone. People still were drawn to him. People still expected him to have answers. Our minds are drawn back to when he was twelve years old and teaching at the temple – he has always had a penchant for drawing a crowd.

            Maybe it’s because I’m a preacher, but I relate a lot to the preacher in this show. Felix is trying to figure out what God wants of him, and just as he seems to feel confident that he knows how God is using him, he ends up back at square one. He tells Jesus, “I had finally figured out what God wants from me and how he plans to use me! And now I don’t have a clue again!” How many times have we said that prayer? My guess is that there are plenty of times when you bounce between feeling completely fulfilled and at peace with God, and when you feel aimless and disconnected from God. We can all relate to Felix.

            This whole scene reminds me of Jesus telling his disciples the confusing aphorism from Isaiah: “When you hear what I say, you will not understand; when you see what I do, you will not comprehend” (Matthew 13:14-15 NLT). The trouble with the Christian faith in Western civilization since the Enlightenment is that we expect to be able to explain everything away. We have always struggled with the irrational and mysterious. Yet, the heart of Christianity is a mystery. As Paul tells Timothy, “Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith: Christ was revealed in a human body and vindicated by the Spirit. He was seen by angels and announced to the nations. He was believed in throughout the world and taken to heaven in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16 NLT).  

            When confronted with such mystery, when confronted with a God who is infinite and omnipotent – we are left with almost nothing but questions. Spend some time today journaling –a discipline you may not often practice, but one that can be helpful as we attempt to process our questions of faith. Picture Jesus standing in front of a press conference and you are in the crowd. “I hear you have some questions for me,” he begins. Try to clear your mind and write down a list of questions you would like to ask Jesus. Don’t rush this exercise – you won’t get to the really good ones until you spend some time filtering out the easy ones that roll off your pen at first. 

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