These verses provide a wonderful description of Christian faith. Something momentous has happened through Christ. Coming out of the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus is a marvelous conviction for the writer. He says, in effect, that the risen, triumphant Lord is now in the presence of the creator God. Jesus, in that presence, expresses the same healing grace for us that he lived out in his earthly ministry. In other words, in his transformed state, Jesus continues to promote our healing actively. That truth is dramatized in Jesus once for all.
In the Christ event we discover that we too can live and die in trust and anticipation. What God has done for us in Christ means that we shall encounter the fullness of that grace in the future. And we shall meet Christ, not as a dreadful accuser but as one who will complete his vocation to perfect us in love. So we “are eagerly waiting for him.”
But the “once for all” nature of Christ’s work doesn’t leave us with nothing to do. To live daily with trust and anticipation, set in a history replete with horror, injustice, and cruelty, we must exercise all sources of “spiritual income,” including the daily disciplines of prayer and scripture reading. That “spiritual income,” which will keep faith and hope alive and growing, will also come through active pursuit of justice, through acts of forgiveness and reconciliation. Faithfulness will replace and replenish weakened or elusive faith. We will be able to receive the grace of Christ and persevere in trust and anticipation, confident that Christ will come to us again in fullness and clarity and, above all, in grace and power. Hallelujah!
Thank you, dear God, for that burst of saving grace in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Open me daily to your sources of spiritual income, so that my living may continue to express what I understand of Christ until I see Jesus face to face. Amen.
Ruth’s story forms part of the background of the family of Jesus. The son of Ruth and Boaz, Obed, is David’s grandfather. The women of Bethlehem rejoice with Naomi at the birth of her grandson, and the psalmist declares that children are a blessing from God. In the scriptures children are spoken of only as a blessing, never as a liability (unlike some narratives in our culture). The Hebrew writer builds upon the eternal nature of Christ’s sacrifice, proclaiming that his death was sufficient once for all. In Mark, Jesus warns his disciples not to be fooled by appearances. Those who put on a big show of piety do not impress God. God wants us instead to give from the heart, even if no one but God sees.
• Read Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17. How has your life been enriched through the diversity of people around you?
• Read Psalm 127. How do you actively ensure the shaping of your household around godly practice?
• Read Hebrews 9:24-28. What spiritual income do you draw upon to keep your faith and hope alive?
• Read Mark 12:38-44. How do you guard against duplicitous living?
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