Todays readings.. Exodus 30, Psalm 87&88, Mark 15&16
“THAT WE MAY SEE AND BELIEVE”
What causes belief – real conviction of belief? Well, it depends what you want to believe; what you see you need to believe! If someone cries ‘Fire’ – you lose no time in acting to verify if the cry is genuine – and seeing what you can possibly do in helping to put it out – or escape from it!.
Our thoughts were triggered along these lines as we read today in Mark 15 that “the chief priests and scribes mocked him to one another, saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe” [v.31,32]
These men had witnessed – or had had first-hand testimony of his remarkable miracles! When he raised Lazarus they had “made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were …. believing in Jesus.” [John 12 v.10,11] Their minds were locked into a certain way of thinking – like a race horse – they had ‘blinkers’ on their eyes. And isn’t it the same today; especially as more and more marvellous miracles of nature are discovered – they still say – all that exists is a result of pure chance – given enough ‘endless’ time!
Verse 39 tells us that “the centurion who stood facing him” witnessing the incredible events at his death, and “saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God.’” Recall how several Roman Centurions had contact with Jesus and his miracles with significant impact on them (e.g. Matt.8 v.5-13) Now Roman history shows that there were so many Christians in Rome by AD64 that Nero put hundreds to death (see Tacitus) – astonishing – but could not have returning Centurions and soldiers have been a vital factor in this happening?
The disciples, apart from John (John 19 v.26,27), had disappeared after the arrest of Jesus, their unstable faith shattered. An interesting fact is that, at the crucifixion “there were also other women looking on from a distance (and names three) … and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.”[ Mark v.40,41]
In Mark 16 we read of 3 who came to the tomb “very early on the first day of the week” [v.2] to anoint his body: those who sought to do something for Jesus were the first to believe. What about us? Do we really believe?
Jesus told his disciples just before he ascended, to “proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved.” [v.15,16] “Whoever believes?” What is the quality – the absolute conviction – that is the foundation of genuine belief? Each individual must discover that for themselves: their lives thereafter will be different – and when they sing, “Take my life and let it be, ever only all for thee” – they will mean it.