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Faith on Earth: Looking for the Galilean

posted Mar 31, 2017, 8:36 AM by Sue Fried
“It is the right time to turn toward the sovereign authority of God.” Mark 1:15a
          -Translated by Gary Walpole

First Affirmation: Jesus is a Galilean Jewish person of faith.

While we move into the 22nd Century, exploring the life of the historical Jesus has begun to play an important role in understanding what it means to “place our faith in God through Jesus Christ.” As many of the traditional titles for Jesus lose their power they are being replaced by insights about his life. As we journey toward Easter at Peace Community of Faith I have offered a new way of understanding Jesus the Christ.

One of the most important and respected Christian thinkers of the 21st century in the United States is Richard R. Niebuhr. He considers the structure of human faith, the association between interpersonal faith and faith in God, and faith in everyday living in his book Faith on Earth: An Inquiry into the Structure of Human Faith. For Richard Niebuhr faith is a combination of trust, confidence, commitment and loyalty in a common cause. How does this apply to Jesus?

Our first step in looking for the Galilean is acknowledging Jesus is a person of faith, not an abstract person but one living in the ancient Roman province of Galilee as a Jew who is confident, committed and loyal to God’s sovereign authority.

The core phrase that expresses who Jesus is and everything that Jesus says and does is the “Kingdom of God,” which I have translated as the “sovereign authority of God.” His life is an effort to live this out in all his being.

I place my faith in God through Jesus Christ because I see Jesus as the One who shows me how to live by faith and the One who shows me what the faithfulness of God may look like.

Using the tools of Modern Biblical Interpretation, we can explore the life of Jesus in canonical Gospels as a Galilean Jew who walked the trails of Galilee living out his faith in the sovereign authority of God, how his faith affected others and eventually it got him arrested, tried and executed as an opponent of the Imperial Roman Rule in Israel.

But before all of this he asks himself, “who is speaking and acting on behalf of God?” His answer draws him to a person clothed in camel’s hair, eating locust and honey, by the Jordan River leading a baptism movement. A man named John.