We often use the word ‘mystery’ to refer to a situation or thing which seems to have no explanation, a situation or thing whose true significance seems to be hidden from us. When it comes to our approach to the biblical narrative, mystery remains a useful word because it reminds us that meaning is multi-layered, and that we possess a limited perspective that constrains our understanding.
To speak of mystery is to acknowledge that we do not have it all figured out, that God does not conform to our neat mental categories. (Thank God!) But to deem something as ‘mystery’ should not be an excuse to shy away from the search for understanding. To the contrary, mystery is an invitation to appreciate the delicate and complex ways in which God makes Himself known to us. As I see it, mystery is not so much about deciphering an encrypted message with the help of some esoteric code accessible only to experienced theologians. Rather, it is more about awakening from our absentmindedness to the subtle yet profound reality of the presence of God. To me, therefore, abiding in the mystery of God’s presence is not so much an issue of knowing as it is an issue of caring.
In our sermon series “The Mothers of Jesus,” we saw how destitute women such as Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba forged improbable relations, overcame loss and abuse, saw their own lives turn into instruments of redemption, and became part of Jesus’ lineage. Their lives illustrate how what we care about is often more important than what we know. Notions of care are central to these women’s stories. Rahab did not know the God of the Israelites; she did not receive a revelation like Moses or Abraham. Yet she cared for the lives of the two spies, which counted for her as righteousness. Ruth did not know who the God of Naomi was, and yet she pledged allegiance to Him because she wanted to take care of her widowed mother-in-law. Bathsheba was a victim of the worst kind of abuse, yet she took care of David’s offspring.
It is a beautiful mystery how the stories of these women mingle with God’s redemptive story. That our lives are absorbed into the life of God, that our stories become enmeshed into God’s story is a mystery that first and foremost demands we answer the question: do we care?
Blogg written by: Ulises Navarro Aguiar
Listen to our preaching series on The mothers of Jesus [in Swedish].