Reflection: Walking in the way of the Rabbi
Cherish your doubts, for doubt is the handmaiden of truth.
The New Union Prayer Book – Gates of Prayer – Page 711
In recent years I have focused more on Jesus the Rabbi than on Jesus the risen Christ. Visiting Palestine and walking where Jesus walked was es-pecially meaningful for me. It was walking the streets of Jerusalem that touched me the most, not Bethlehem or Nazareth or the Sea of Galilee, even though the actual streets I walked were probably not the same streets walked by Jesus. Much about the city has changed since the time of Jesus.
Walking these streets was the man who ate with, talked with, and laughed with people that were con-sidered social outcasts. Walking these streets was the man who chal-lenged the religious authorities, the man who didn’t throw the first stone, the man who welcomed children, the man who suggested God would favor the “least of these,” the man who forgave, the man who healed. Walk-ing these streets was the man who, most important for me, would, after all, agonize over his doubts in the garden, pray-ing that he could have “this cup” taken away.
Doubt is the one thing Christians tend to avoid, or maybe even hide. But what if Peter had not doubted the necessity of food laws? What if Luther had not doubted the notion that salvation can be purchased? What if Galileo had not doubted the church-instituted cosmology of a geocentric universe? What if William Wilberforce had accepted the notion of slavery? What if Paul and Augustine had not agonized over difficult questions and their own doubts? Faith is not about being right or defending conquered ground. Faith is about discovering new territory.
The man Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem with dirt between his toes and sweat running down his back. The man Jesus agonized over his own doubts in the garden. This is the one whose footsteps I want to follow, the one whose footsteps I can only attempt to follow, the one whose footsteps I’m some-times afraid to follow, the one whose footsteps echoed in my ears as I walked the streets of Jerusalem, the one whose footsteps I still hear echoing in my ears.
Lord, Let us not be afraid of our doubts and questions, and trust that they will become footsteps on our journey of faith. Amen.