Gabriel is not stealing praise from God by singling out Mary for a commendation uttered to only one woman in all of human history, by saying, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28). He affirms her by (1) greeting her (a simple practice overlooked in many homes to the detriment of many relationships); (2) describing her as favored—she has earned nothing, can boast in nothing, and has passively received this bestowal, yet it is an honor to be savored, to be sure; and (3) declaring that the Lord is with her, for her, proactive on her behalf. Again, Mary is distinguished from all other women as being “favored,” and yet ultimately God gets the honor, for he is the one doing the favoring, the gracing, the bestowing.
Do you suffer? Have you experienced a broken heart or a broken arm? Have you been betrayed or falsely accused? Are you alone and misunderstood? Why in an otherwise decent world, full of beauty and good things, do events occur that have no apparent upside? Why does a good God allow suffering?
We have to turn back to the beginning to find out. Have you ever wondered what Jesus was thinking at the moment that Adam ate the fruit, God the Father, commanded Adam not to eat? Adam bit into the fruit and by his action Adam called Jesus’ Father, our father, a liar. The father whom Jesus loved. Who Jesus adored, served, obeyed and revered. Adam bit into that fruit and called God’s Holiness, evil. In that act, in the midst of a paradise, as the king of earth, Adam bowed down and worshiped Satan before the face of God. Adam chewed the fruit and each bite was a tear and gnarling wrench of God’s heart. And at that moment, Jesus entered His suffering at the site of God’s chief creation, God’s image bearer, prostituting himself for the promises of an idol.
At the dawn of time, still rejoicing over the creation made in and through him, Jesus not only witnessed the treachery of man but Jesus was, in that moment, sentenced to death. And that suffering of the Father and the Son and the Spirit would continue as generation after generation proved themselves to be just as treacherous and evil as Adam.
That suffering continued until Jesus laid down His life only to take it up again as the resurrected LORD. And that suffering continues as Christ’s blood spreads from the rivers to the ends of the earth, cleansing everything Adam stained. And what is even more profound about this moment is that it was decreed by God. It was not a shock to Him. “Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward,” it says in Job 5:7. Man’s fall plunged God’s world into suffering.
We are fallen creatures and the evil that we experience is the result of what we’ve done to God. No matter what we suffer or experience. Evil that befalls evil creatures is not evil. It’s par for the course. The only one who experiences true evil and who truly suffers is God himself. Continue reading “The Suffering Servant”
Luke 24:44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
This three-fold division is clearly recorded by the Jewish authorities and their specific contents are also recorded and align with the modern Old Testament of the Protestant Bible, though in a different arrangement. Jesus also affirmed the Common Tradition of Scripture by his statement that all the blood from Abel to Zechariah would be visited on the Jews in Luke 11:50-51. This starts with the first Murder and ends with the last murdered prophet in the Jewish bible.
For the New Testament, the teaching and example of the Lord and his apostles, whether conveyed by word of mouth or in writing, had axiomatic authority for them. If writing was the work of an apostle or of their disciples it belongs to the apostolic age. Later writings, whatever their merit, could not be included among the apostolic or canonical books. Continue reading “A primer on Canonicity”