Bread – Mysteries

July 27, 2012


Readings for Friday, July 27 designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Joshua 9:22-10:15; Rom. 15:14-24; Matt. 27:1-10; Psalms 40, 51, 54

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In today’s reading from Romans, Paul writes that he wants to visit the Roman church on his way to Spain, saying “I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped in my journey there for you…” Rom. 15:24

Nowhere in the New Testament is it recorded that Paul ever went to Spain. Nowhere in the New Testament is it recorded that he did not go to Spain or that the Holy Spirit told him not to go to Spain. Nothing is recorded about Spain. Nothing.

In my ESV Study Bible, there is s footnote that says “There is some historical evidence after the NT suggesting that Paul did preach in Spain, but it falls short of clear proof.” In other words, it is myth, story, oral tradition, with a few indirect scraps of writing, all of which makes for good theorizing but poor concluding.

So, in a spurt of curiosity, I went to that great engine of research, the Internet, where I found even more “connections” – to the founding of the Church in England, to Joseph of Arimathea, to the first Bishop of Rome, etcetera.

Now this is a mystery! And apparently, for some reason unknown to us, God has decided to leave it a mystery. And what are we to conclude from this? I think what we are to conclude is that there are some mysteries we will never get to the bottom of. We will not get there because they are mysteries. We will not get there because, at least for the time being, God has chosen for those things to remain in the twilight of knowledge. Close enough to titillate, far enough away to be a mystery.

Compare this to what is well-documented; what is historical. The birth of Jesus Christ; His death on the cross; His resurrection. His life, His death. Documents, places, times, circumstances, first hand witnesses. There is more evidence about Jesus Christ than most ancient history. With Jesus Christ we have the grist for great concluding and poor theorizing. It is hard to build a theory when the facts are there, when there is no mystery.

And yet, do you notice that we tend to make Jesus the mystery and make things like Paul’s trip to Spain the fact? We like to confuse and confound the truth so that it becomes the mystery, and then raise up our random musings about traces in the snow as the truth. We would rather grip tight to the notion that we can change iron into gold than engage the truth that the real gold came to earth as man, died for us, and is raised up so that we might dwell with Him in eternity.

Isn’t that the real mystery? The real mystery is not whether Paul went to Spain, England, Antarctica, or Timbuktu. The real mystery is why we ignore the truth, why we throw it away in exchange for the lie. The real mystery is why we buy what Satan and the world have to sell, why we buy fool’s gold when real gold is right there for the accepting. The real mystery is why we despise our birthright in Christ and sell it daily for a bowl of soup.

In today’s reading from Matthew, Jesus has been betrayed by Judas. Judas despised his birthright for thirty pieces of silver.

How many times today will we do the same thing? Why? That is the mystery.

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© 2012 GBF

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