Read Mark 9:9-13.
Um, what? Jesus sure can be confusing. Thank God the disciples are so curious in the gospels and take time to ask Jesus a bunch of questions (and we get to read about them doing so and not feel so stupid). Of course, as this story reminds us, the disciples had no idea how abruptly, tragically, and traumatically the earthly ministry of Jesus would end. They were confused about how Jesus lined up with the prophets and kings of old. Some wanted a new David, a warrior king who would drive out Roman occupation and restore the kingdom of Israel. Some wanted a new Moses, a lawgiver who would bring prophetic tablets ushering in a new season of laws on how to live. Some wanted a new Elijah, a prophet who would shock-and-awe people into the knowledge of who God is. None of these descriptions fit Jesus. Jesus surprised everyone through his perplexing parables, radical teachings, compassionate ministry, and creative subversion to the Empire. And Jesus especially surprised everyone in conquering death and rising from the dead. We have it easier than the disciples — we can hear and read and discuss the gospels and there’s a bit of a buffer between us and the surprise of Jesus. The disciples had to live it, following Jesus on faith, being curious every step of the way. But you know, maybe there’s something remarkably faithful about not knowing what Jesus is up to. Maybe there’s something more divine in being curious rather than being certain.
This Advent, try on more curiosity. Ask more questions. Maybe the Church would start to shed its well-deserved image problem if we traded in some of our certainty for curiosity, especially during the Christmas season.
Pray: God who knows more than we do, keep us curious. May our questions be met with a deepening of faith. Amen.
Patrick Harley, UKirk Birmingham