Mark 10: 17-27 & Hebrews 4:12-16
In this passage, the pictures that come into my mind are those of a surgeon working on the faithful and vulnerable in a hospital.
The tools of surgery include scalpel – penetrating and dividing, working into joints and marrow, uncovering and laying everything bare that was hidden. We as the patient upon the table are vulnerable and weak (verse 15) and we rely on the skill and mercy (verse 26) of our master surgeon God to heal us, restore us, reshape us, renew us, change us and bring us forward to new life.
The ‘word’ of God that is ‘living and active’ (verse 12) is not just the divinely inspired scriptures but the person of Jesus Christ.
It is Christ, in and through the scriptures who speaks to us, cutting deep to expose who we really are as weak and broken people, diseased people, paralysed people – so that we may first be convicted of our brokenness. In the revealing of what lay within by Christ, we begin the process of being made whole – in soul and Spirit – as his hands work in our lives.
Our faith is fashioned and shaped by other scalpels as well.
John Wesley spoke in what is now known as the Wesley Quadrilateral to growth in Christian faith. As well as the scriptures, he writes of three more factors. The first is tradition. It is the need to link ourselves with those who came before us, right back to the first disciples.
So while style is not an important facet of worship, it is the fact that we corporately worship, that we pray, that we celebrate the Eucharist, that we meditate on Scripture, that we study and discern together.
The second factor is that of reason. While reason itself cannot produce faith, it can help us unlock some of the mysteries and see even deeper mysteries.
When we look into space and what has been revealed by science and human endeavour, with the right set of eyes, we see the creativity and infinite love of God.
The third factor of our Christian faith is that of experience. Unlike reason, this is a non-provable relationship of life with God and the existence of the Spirit working with us and for us. It is in the presence of God, that we are inwardly and outwardly changed, so that we are ruled by peace and love. It is experience that leads us to say – like the apostle John and by John Newton – ‘One thing I know, I was blind but now I see’.
No human surgeon is perfect, no skill set will every guarantee complete healing or complete recovery.
Only the Prince of Peace guarantees that. At the end of the day, it is not about how strong we are, or how well we’ve prepared for that time on the table. It is about the love and grace of God.
The rich young man in today’s Gospel reading was reminded of this by Jesus – when despite the man’s personal resources and giving attitude – he still had lack (verse 21). Jesus may as well have said – ‘It’s not what you have, it’s what I give – and I give amazing grace.’
It is because of God, the surgeon, who convicts, heals and grows us that we can trumpet the final words of the author of Hebrews, who says in verse 16:
‘Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.’