Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Immanu-El; ‘God is with us’ as Reported in the Gospel of Matthew 1:23

December 18, 2022

 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14

When I think of the above verse I cannot think of anyone more suited to show us that Jesus is the Immanu-El (God is with us).  He quotes:

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14”

The only difference in the Greek and Hebrew is that Matthew uses the LXX (Septuagint- the Greek translation of the TANACH (Old Testament for Christian readers)). 

The only dispute which to my mind is not a dispute at all is; Does almah in the Hebrew mean Maiden or Virgin?

The truth is that in this context the maiden for cultural reasons would be a virgin as other wise she would probably be stoned to death.  The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament also says:


    virgin, young woman of marriageable age

        maid or newly married ++ There is no instance where it can be proved that this word designates a young woman who is not a virgin. (TWOT)” Taken from

(In my quotations from the web sites I usually delete the first part for security reasons.)

In the LXX the word is always translated as virgin. 

The Church and many synagogues in the 1st century AD wrestling with the Scriptural texts of what type of Messiah was going to be born (the tension of Humble Servant and the Great Judge).

Paul and the first generation of early Christians did not see themselves as Christians. There was ‘no New Testament’. The New Testament came into being over time with reflections on the Tanach in its various forms (Hebrew and Greek).  As time has progressed and new discoveries have been made especially with the Dead Sea Scrolls, we find images of a Lowly Messiah and a Messiah as Judge.  Obviously, much thought went into this thinking. There is only one true Messiah not two. John in his Gospel showed Jesus the lowly Messiah who was born in a stable and the same John also Showed Jesus as the Judge of Mankind in the book of Revelations and the end times (eschaton).

These ideas were being wrestled with at the latter time of the Second Temple period.

Mathew, Mark, Luke and John all agree in the Messiah coming into the world as a humble servant who would be crucified a Horrific death on a Roman cross but on the third day be raised up as the glorified Messiah who would one day come back as the true king (within the Trinitarian framework) with power and authority on his second coming to judge the living and the dead.  As an added note I can say that although Mark does not show Jesus’ birth, he does show the repulsion of the cross and the resurrection. When we turn to the Dead Sea Scrolls proper we can see interesting ideas that were at work in probably the side corridors of the second Temple where Jesus probably taught his disciples,  and Judea including the surrounding areas.

The idea of a Messiah and the Dead Sea Scrolls

The messiah of heaven and earth (4q521) (plate 1)

The following text we will be looking at is taken from the penguin edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered by Robert Eisenman &  Michael Wise page 23:


Fragment 1 Column 2 (1) [. . . The Heavens and the earth will obey His Messiah, (2) [. . . and all that is in them. He will not turn aside from the Commandments of the Holy Ones.

(3) Take strength in His service, (you) who seek the Lord.

(4) Shall you not find the Lord in this, all you who wait patiently in your hearts? (5) For the Lord will visit the Pious Ones (Hassidim) and the Righteous (Zaddikim) will He call by name.

(6) Over the Meek will His Spirit hover, and the Faithful will He restore by His power.

(7) He shall glorify the Pious Ones (Hassidim) on the Throne of the Eternal Kingdom.

(8) He shall release the captives, make the blind see, raise up the do[wntrodden.] (9) For[ev]er will I cling [to Him . . J; and [I will trust] in His Piety (Hated, also ‘Grace’),

(10) and [His] Goodness . . .] of Holiness will not delay . . .

(11) And as for the wonders that are not the work of the Lord, when He . . . “

(12) then He will heal the sick, resurrect the dead, and to the Meek announce glad tidings.

(13) . . . He will lead the [Holly Ones; He will shepherd [th]em; He will‘do

(14) . . . and all of it . . .”

According to Eisenman & Wise there are important themes here within this core tradition from the Judaean desert of what the messiah would be like and how he would function. Four key themes keep coming up

  • The Righteous
  • The Pious
  • The Meek
  • The faithful

The writers point out that the righteous and the pious are key themes within Jewish mysticism and the Meek and the Faithful key themes in Christianity.  I find this very interesting, but I would contend that these key themes are found throughout Scripture in the New Testament. For example, in the Beatitudes of Christ in Matthew 5 or those who over come in the Book of Revelations (from my past readings).

In this next section on the Messiah we read about the sufferings of the Leader of the community (Messiah (page 29)):

“Fragment 6 (1) . . . Wickedness will be smitten . . . (2) [the Leader of the

Community and all Israel . , .] (4) upon the mountains of . . . (5) [the]

Kittim . . . (6) the Leader of the Community as far as the» [Great] Sea . . .

(7) before Israel in that time . . . (8) he will stand against them, and they

will muster against them . . . (9) they will return to the dry land in that]

time . . . (10) they will bring him before the Leader of [the Community . . .]

Fragment 7 (1) . . . Isaiah the Prophet, [The thickets of the forest] will be

fell[ed with an axe] (2) [and Lebanon shall flail [by a mighty one.] A staff

shall rise from the root of jesse, [and a Planting from his r00ts will bear

fruit.’l (3) . . . the Branch of David. They will enter into Judgement

with . . . (4) and they will put to death the Leader of the Community, the

Bran[ch of David] (this might also be read, depending on the context, “and

the Leader of the Community, the Branch of David’], will put him to

death) . . . (5) and with wounding’s, and the (high) priest will command . . .

(6) [the slain of the Kittim . . .”

As it shows in the text one interpretation would be that ‘the Leader of the community would be put to death’.  This is interesting because Jesus as the Messiah was indeed put to death. It is no accident that the copper Scroll of Isaiah was also found at Qumran.

Reflection on the cultural background for the life of Jesus and common ideas within the Judaic community of the time.

I find this very interesting because there was serious thinking going on in the Old Testament of what kind of Messiah would come into the world.  The writers of the translation think that the Kittim in the text refers to the Occupying force of Judea as the ‘Romans’.  Certainly, Judas Iscariot was thinking of the Messiah being the one who would defeat the invading forces because he was a Zealot.

How does this relate to the birth of Jesus?

This shows that there were many interpretations going on from the Old Testament.  Matthew too was looking for the Messiah, the true King of Israel.  Within the Judaic world view of Judea seeing the birth of Jesus foretold in the Old Testament would not be a problem.  The Dead Sea Scrolls take the advent of the Messiah into the world as servant and conqueror very seriously.

The big difference between the Dead Sea scrolls and the teachings of Jesus is that the love of God rather than the vengeful God takes priority. Barabbas or Jesus is a perfect picture of this.


Within the framework of Matthew’s world, it was perfectly natural to show that Jesus would be born of a virgin.  The Holy Spirit is the same God at the time of Isaiah as he was in Matthew’s time, and he is the same God in our present milieu. The use of the LXX was completely acceptable as it has a tradition of 70 elders for its translation.  It is a hard fact that the Apostles used the LXX a lot in their quotations.  The LXX certainly interprets the maiden in Isaiah 7.14 as a virgin. 

Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? (John2. 46)

December 11, 2022

Nathaniel asked the question; “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” 

Let’s look at the context: 

The next day He purposed to go into Galilee, and He *found Philip. And Jesus *said to him, “Follow Me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip *found Nathanael and *said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip *said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and *said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael *said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.” 50 Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And He *said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” John 1:43-51 

As you can see Nazareth is a backwater town in which nothing much happened.  Nathaniel certainly knew his Bible, that the Town Nazareth is not found in the Old Testament and no prophet came from this town.   

(The quotations I have used in much of the next sections are taken from Spurgeon’s writings:

Spurgeon reminds us of a verse that was to do with the arrest of St Paul:

“For we have found this man a real pest and a fellow who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. Acts 24:5”

Spurgeon continues:

“Thus, it appears that our Lord and Master is called a Nazarene, and his disciples are styled “the sect of the Nazarenes,” while Christian doctrine was called by the Jews the heresy of the Nazarenes.

     Our Saviour, though actually born at Bethlehem, was commonly known as Jesus of Nazareth, because Nazareth was the place where he was brought up. There he remained with his reputed father in the carpenter’s shop until the time of his showing unto the people. This Nazareth was a place very much despised. It was a small country town, and the people were rough and rustic. They were some three days’ distance from Jerusalem, where I suppose the Jews thought that everything that was learned and polite could be found, as we are apt to think of our own city, or of Oxford, and Cambridge, and other seats of learning. The people of Nazareth were the boors of Galilee, the clowns of the country.”

Although Matthew puts ‘prophets’ in the plural Spurgeon gives us a messianic text from Isaiah with reference to the first verse but for context I will quote a little bit more:

“1 Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,

And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.

2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him,

The spirit of wisdom and understanding,

The spirit of counsel and strength,

The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

3 And He will delight in the fear of the LORD,

And He will not judge by what His eyes see,

Nor make a decision by what His ears hear;

4 But with righteousness He will judge the poor,

And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth;

And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,

And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.

5 Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins,

And faithfulness the belt about His waist.

6 And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,

And the leopard will lie down with the young goat,

And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;

And a little boy will lead them.

7 Also the cow and the bear will graze,

Their young will lie down together,

And the lion will eat straw like the ox. Isaiah 11:1-7”

As we continue looking at verse 1; “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.” (Isaiah 11:1)

The word branch here is translated from נֵצֶר netser.  Originally before the birth of the Masoretic text Hebrew was written without vowels so what you have is “ntzt= NaZaReth”.  Spurgeon and I think correctly sees a reference to the Messiah who would be a descendant of King David. This is why I quoted from the longer passage because the passage is obviously Messianic.

Concerning Jesse’s line and king David we have the following quotation from St Pauls first missionary journey:

“After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I HAVE FOUND DAVID the son of Jesse, A MAN AFTER MY HEART, who will do all My will.’ 23 From the descendants of this man, according to promise, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, Acts 13:22-23”

This line of thaouyght about Jesus being a branch of King David is found.  There are other references in the Old Testament but I think this is sufficient to show the importance of Jesus as the Messiah from the Old Testament.  Even to the time of Spurgeon someone from Nazareth was looked down on:

Spurgeon continues:

“As Nazarene was a term of contempt in the olden times, so it has continued to be. The apostate emperor Julian was wont always to call our Lord the Galilean; and when he died, in his agony of death, he cried, “O Galilean, thou hast vanquished me.” He was obliged to confess our Lord’s supremacy, though he still showed his contempt by calling him the Galilean. The Jews to this day, when they feel wroth against our Christ, are wont to call him the Nazarene.

     Nazarene is not at all the same word as Nazarite. It is a different word in the Hebrew, and you must not confound the two. Never suppose that when you say, “He shall be called a Nazarene,” that it signifies that he was called a Nazarite. Nazarite among the Jews would have been a title of honour, but Nazarene is simply a name of contempt. A late traveller tells us that he had a Mahometan guide through Palestine, and whenever they came to a village that was very dirty, very poor, and inhabited by professed Christians, he always said, “These are not Moslems; they are netza,” or “Nazarenes,” throwing all the spite he possibly could into the word, as if he could not have uttered a more contemptuous term. To this day, then, our Lord has the name of the Nazarene affixed to him by those who reject him, and to this day Christians are called among (Muslims), Nazarenes.

     Our Lord Jesus Christ was never ashamed of this name: in fact, he called himself “Jesus of Nazareth” after he had risen from the dead. He told Paul when he smote him to the earth, “I am Jesus of Nazareth whom thou persecutest.” His disciples were not ashamed to call him by that name; for as they walked to Emmaus, and he joined them, and asked them what they were speaking of, they said they were talking of Jesus of Nazareth. This is a name at which devils tremble, for they besought him, even Jesus of Nazareth, that they should not be sent into the deep when he cast them out. It was the name which in contempt was nailed above his head upon the cross— “Jesus of Nazareth the king of the Jews.” Oh, but it is a glorious name, as I shall have to show ere I have done. But still this is the meaning of it— the meaning of Matthew when he says that the prophets declared that he should be called a Nazarene. He meant that the prophets have described the Messiah as one that would be despised and rejected of men. They spoke of him as a great prince and conqueror when they described his second coming; but they set forth his first coming when they spoke of him as a root out of a dry ground without form or comeliness, who when he should be seen would have no beauty that men should desire him. The prophets said that he would be called by a despicable title, and it was so, for his countrymen called him a Nazarene.”

So, Jesus was spoken of with a ‘despicable’ title.  Nazarene was a title of contempt but for believers the shame of the cross is full of glory and honour for the Christian.


Before I continue with this reflection, we need to be reminded that we are called to love everyone no matter what their background.  We are called to love Muslims, Jews, other Christians, Hindu’s, atheists and all the varieties found in the human race.  We are in this blog talking about Jesus the Nazarene. 

On reflection anyone claiming to be something special from Nazareth would be looked on with contempt.  This is exactly what the Old Testament expected from the Messiah in his first coming.  Spurgeon in this particular piece of writing gives us three collecting points:

  1. First, then, our Master, the Nazarene, was despised, and is despised even to this day.
  2. secondly, our other text informs us that Christ’s followers have been known as the sect of the Nazarenes
  3. there is, after all, nothing despicable in either Christ or his people.

So, then we know that Jesus is the Son of God in his birth and what followed even in the small print of the Old Testament, we find what sort of person the Messiah was going to be. Our Lord would be despised and rejected and killed on our behalf.  This is only Half the story as the Old Testament as well as the New Testament would show his glorious return as the real Judge and king of Israel, the Church and the world. 

‘The Word of God’ in the Christmas story and Jesus’ Second Coming from John the Apostles point of View is Grounded in History.

December 2, 2022

Have we been deceived by the commerce of the Christmas tree and the use of tinsel and bling that makes us like magpies running to and thro building our castles on snow? The real meaning of Christmas is very deep, if we could only see beyond the lights of our Christmas fairy tale.  The Christmas story is no Cinderella theme.  Christmas is about God becoming a person like you and me.  The question is why would God give up his heaven and be willing to be born in a barn?  If you were God, would you do that? Anyhow let us get started and look at John the Apostles World which was full of death and destruction.

I believe that John the Apostle wrote the Gospel, letters, and the Apocalypse.  During his life, he lived through the time of:

  • some cruel Roman rulers,
  • earthquakes such as Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Heracleum (AD 62)
  • and the destruction of the Second Temple (AD 70) where Jesus preached, and the Second Temple was at the heart of Jewish life.

John also saw many of his brothers and sisters in the faith murdered by the State of Rome. Two of those people that were murdered were Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna (Izmir).  There was an unbroken line of succession of believers in the Faith from Our Lord Jesus:

  • John the Apostle
  • Polycarp and Ignatius of Antioch
  • Irenaeus

Irenaeus was a student of Polycarp.  These basic historical facts obviously influenced John in his writings.  There were some serious political, economic, theological and geological events taking place around John including the deaths of many Christian Martyrs.  He was also the disciple who took care of Mary the mother of Jesus our Lord.  In the letters of Ignatius there is evidence of this.  So, then we begin looking at Jesus as the Word of God.

Jesus was not ‘a god’, he is God, fully Divine and fully human at the same time.  It is a mystery that the universal Church of Christ accepts these as fact and indeed John names Jesus as the Word of God in the book of Revelations.  I have two key texts found in the writings of John so let us read them:

The first coming (Incarnation)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1:1-5

The Second Coming

“He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.” Revelation 19:13

Look at how superior to the angels Jesus is.  The angel’s functionality was working as emissaries and Mediators between Heaven and earth.  They never had the power of creation from nothing.  Angels are creatures just like humans, they had a beginning.  For John Our lord from his Divine side was instrumental with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the Creation of the world.  It is no accident that John started with ‘in the beginning’:

ἐν ἀρχῇ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν” (from LXX Genesis 1 verse 1)

“ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος” (from John 1)

Even if you do not know Greek one can see that both sentences start the same: ‘ἐν ἀρχῇ’= in the beginning.  The Hebrew Masoretic text also begins with in the beginning:

“1 בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ׃” Genesis 1:1

My transliteration:

Berosheyth ||bara ELOHIM ||eth ha-shamayim va he-aretz

In the beginning =Berosheyth ||God created = bara ELOHIM ||the heavens and the earth = eth ha-shamayim va he-aretz

So then our Lord had a functionality of Creator at the creation of the world this means that on his divine side, Jesus was the ‘Eternal Son’.   

Reflection on the Christmas meaning of John 1.1

When we dig a little bit deeper on the meaning of Jesus as the Word of God, what it is actually saying is that God became a human being and lived among us. Jesus was no angelic being as an angelic being did not create the world.  God Himself in the economic Trinity created the world.  The Trinitarian God the Father by the two hands of God created the world and all life on it.  There is only One God but as Karl Barth would say there are ‘three modes of being’ in the Godhead.  Father, Son and Holy Spirit were involved in the creation.  The Trinitarian God was also involved in the incarnation of Christ.  The incarnation ‘God becoming a human being’ was the work of the Trinitarian God.  The incarnation was not just the birth story but includes the whole life of Christ up to his death and resurrection. Professor Thomas. F. Torrance goes into detail about this in his book the Incarnation.

Christ is named The Word of God in Revelations

So, we have looked and seen that Jesus as the Word of God was involved with the creation, so it is no surprise that John calls Jesus the ‘Alpha’.  My interpretation of Jesus as the Alpha is do with the Christmas story and his life on earth. 

The last time John speaks of Jesus as the ‘Word of God’ is in the Book of Revelation.   In the Book of revelations:

  • the Harlot Babylon (Rome) had been judged.  (Not the Catholic Church but rulers who professed to be divine)
  • We then have the fourfold Hallelujahs as we see God as the Judge.
  • We see the Lamb of God Jesus marrying his Church.

After this the Second coming of Christ is mentioned and he is called ‘The Word of God’:

“The Coming of Christ

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh, He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, “Come, assemble for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.”

19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth, and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.” Revelation 19:11-19

This is a different depiction of Jesus.  In Johns Gospel Jesus was the ‘sacrifice’.  This picture is Jesus as the glorified ‘Word of God’.  This really encourages me in my personal walk with God.  I can look back at the cross at Jesus as the Word of God who died in my place but then with this text as a believer we can look forward to the future with boldness to the same ‘Word of God’ but this time he rides as Judge. Our Lords function was both as sacrifice and as king (Messiah).  My focus however is on Revelations9:13, Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary says:

“13. vesture dipped in blood—Isa 63:2 is alluded to here, and in Re 19:15, end. There the blood is not His own, but that of His foes. So here the blood on His “vesture,” reminding us of His own blood shed for even the ungodly who trample on it, is a premonition of the shedding of their blood in righteous retribution. He sheds the blood, not of the godly, as the harlot and beast did, but of the blood-stained ungodly, including them both.

The Word of God—who made the world, is He also who under the same character and attributes shall make it anew. His title, Son of God, is applicable in a lower sense, also to His people; but “the Word of God” indicates His incommunicable Godhead, joined to His manhood, which He shall then manifest in glory. “The Bride does not fear the Bridegroom; her love casteth out fear. She welcomes Him; she cannot be happy but at His side. The Lamb [Re 19:9, the aspect of Christ to His people at His coming] is the symbol of Christ in His gentleness. Who would be afraid of a lamb? Even a little child, instead of being scared, desires to caress it. There is nothing to make us afraid of God but sin, and Jesus is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. What a fearful contrast is the aspect which He will wear towards His enemies! Not as the Bridegroom and the Lamb, but as the [avenging] judge and warrior stained in the blood of His enemies.”” Taken from

Let us remind ourselves of verse 13 again:

“He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.” Revelation 19:13

Reflection on Revelations 19:13

Jesus here is no Lamb to his enemies.  He is pictured as the Messiah who has just trodden over his enemies.  Babylon the Great Whore (Rome with its evil emperors) who were killing Christians at a whim has now met its fate.   Here Jesus is seen as the avenging Judge and the blood that soiled his robe is that of his enemies. 

Reflection on John 1:1 and Revelations 19:13

Jesus came as the Word of God.  In the first place God became a human and humbled himself to be born into a stable where animals were kept and then he humbled himself to death on a cross so that we could be saved from eternal death.

Jesus will come again into the world as the Word of God but this time his function will be as the Messiah to judge his enemies. His enemies were murderers who killed Christians. Jesus’ enemies have brought down their own doom through their own sins.

Final Reflection

I find John the Apostles Christology very interesting because his use of Alpha and Omega does really touch on the Word of God. Christ as the Son of God was involved with the Holy Spirit and the Father at the creation of our world, and it was good.  We then see the Christmas story when the Word of God became a human being and lived among us for a time as a servant and Sacrifice to fix our fallen world.  We then see Jesus, the Word of God at the End of time at the eschaton the final Omega the Judge of the living and the dead.

A call to repentance

In today’s society it is very fashionable to turn away from God and to worship ourselves through various forms of Atheisms and agnosticisms. Have you stopped and thought about who Jesus is?  There are three choices:

  1. Was Jesus mad?
  2. Was Jesus a liar?
  3. Was Jesus who he claimed to be?

For me the evidence is overwhelming that Jesus was who he claimed to be.  His disciples believed in him so much that most of them were killed or imprisoned for him.  He healed people and scholars such as Josephus wrote about Jesus.  The effects of Jesus’ teaching is still with us today throughout the whole world. Christmas time is a time of reflection on the birth and incarnation of Jesus Christ.  Christmas time is not only about Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt.  The Christmas story is much bigger, and this Weeks Advent blog is about looking behind the pretentious tinsel picture of Jesus.  This Week we followed the Apostle John’s picture of Jesus as the Word of God.  Jesus as the King, Jesus as the Judge, and as the Judge who was willing to take our judgement on himself.  There are not many judges in the world that would be willing to take the place of the convict.  This is what Jesus did. Let us not believe in a make-believe fairy tale in which the shops get rich on Christmas season by giving us a glossy page.  

Like magpies we fly to this pretentious image that the media gives us, and this is so disrespectful towards people of faith. I am not saying there is anything wrong with these trappings of Christmas time as it can be a time to teach our young ones about the birth of Jesus but let us move on to maturity and dig deeper into the mountain full of spiritual jewels that will help us get closer to God in a living relationship.

The Heroic Women of Jesus’ Ancestry

November 24, 2022

In the ancestry of Jesus, we find some really interesting women of faith:

Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary the mother of our Lord.

One will notice that in a conventional genealogy we have such and ‘such begat’ or ‘the father of’…  In Matthews genealogy there is a twist and the reason there is a twist is that sometimes God works in unconventional ways. All these women have a story to tell, and they all faced some type of persecution in their lives. 

Tamar and Judah

Tamar was married to one of Judah’s sons and he died.  According to the law (levir practice) she was to have a surrogate husband.  She got a surrogate husband, but he wasted his seed on the ground so that she wouldn’t get pregnant.  God judged him and he died.  Judah decided that Tamar was not going to get the youngest son but lied to her… that when he grew up, he would perform by making her pregnant.  It didn’t happen. Judah lied to her.  So, one day she got dressed and pretended to be a prostitute so that she would ensnare Judah so that she could keep the line of her dead husband alive.  Judah fell into her temptation and Tamar took his seal and cord in waiting for his payment for sex.  Three months later she was found to be with child, and he was going to burn her to death. Tamar pulled out the cord and the seal and he admitted that he was at fault.   

Although it is against Leviticus to sleep with one’s father or sister-in-law.  The levir law is an exception and the law here is suspended so that it is not counted as incest:

“You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law; she is your son’s wife, you shall not uncover her nakedness. 16 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife; it is your brother’s nakedness. Leviticus 18:15-16”

If Tamar who was a foreigner did not do this act, then the genealogy to David and then to Christ would have been broken.  Tamar was a very brave woman as she wanted her rights and by faith she fought for her rights before God and protected her husbands and her blood line to the next generation.  It is also very interesting what Rabbi Sacks says about Judah on this issue when he admitted he was in the wrong:

“This moment is a turning-point in history. Judah is the first person in the Torah explicitly to admit he was wrong.[5] We do not realise it yet, but this seems to be the moment at which he acquired the depth of character necessary for him to become the first real baal teshuvah. We see this years later, when he – the brother who proposed selling Joseph as a slave – becomes the man willing to spend the rest of his life in slavery so that his brother Benjamin can go free. (Gen. 44:33) I have argued elsewhere that it is from here that we learn the principle that a penitent stands higher than even a perfectly righteous individual. (Brachot 34b) [6] Judah the penitent becomes the ancestor of Israel’s Kings while Joseph the Righteous is only a viceroy, mishneh le-melech, second to the Pharaoh.

Thus far Judah. But the real hero of the story was Tamar. She had taken an immense risk by becoming pregnant. Indeed she was almost killed for it. She had done so for a noble reason: to ensure that the name of her late husband was perpetuated. But she took no less care to avoid Judah being put to shame. Only he and she knew what had happened. Judah could acknowledge his error without loss of face. It was from this episode that the Sages derived the rule articulated by Rabbi Rabinovitch that morning in Switzerland: it is better to risk being thrown into a fiery furnace than to shame someone else in public.” From

(I also used

Rahab and Salmon

Rahab was another foreign woman in King David’s and Jesus’ genealogy and originally she was a prostitute.  Yet she had respect for the God of Israel and protected the spies.  God protected Rahab and she married some Jewish general and became a citizen of Israel.  The following is about the promise to Rahab:

“Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall, so that she was living on the wall. 16 She said to them, “Go to the hill country, so that the pursuers will not happen upon you, and hide yourselves there for three days until the pursuers return. Then afterward you may go on your way.” 17 The men said to her, “We shall be free from this oath to you which you have made us swear, 18 unless, when we come into the land, you tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and gather to yourself into the house your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father’s household. 19 It shall come about that anyone who goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be free; but anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him. 20 But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be free from the oath which you have made us swear.” 21 She said, “According to your words, so be it.” So she sent them away, and they departed; and she tied the scarlet cord in the window.” Joshua 2:15-21

Then later in Joshua it says:

“25 However, Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. Joshua 6:25”. 

Then in Matthew’s genealogy we have:

“Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. Matthew 1:5”

The function of Rahab in the story according to Tikva Frymer-Kensky:

“Rahab has a special function in the biblical narratives of Israel’s existence in the land. When uncovering the men, she explains that she knows that God will give Israel the land (2:8). She has heard about the events of the Sea of Reeds (Red Sea) and the defeat of the Amorite kings Og and Sihon, and she declares (quoting from the Song of Miriam in Exodus 15; see v. 11) that “dread” has fallen on the inhabitants and that they all “fear” Israel (2:9). This is the message that the men bring back to Joshua. Rahab is thus the oracle, or prophet, of Israel’s occupation of the land.” Taken from

So, Rahab was a Canaanite and a prostitute which is a double whammy as far as social niceties go but because of her faith and by God’s grace she became an ancestor of Kings and princes.

Ruth and Boaz

Naomi was married to Elimelech, and they had two sons.  One of the sons was married to Ruth the Moabitess. Unfortunately, there was a famine and Naomi’s Husband and two sons also died.  She was left with nothing. She decides to go back to Israel, and she encouraged the daughters to go to their lands.  Ruth refused as the God of Israel was also her God.  This was a dire situation, and the situation was similar to Tamar and Elimelech’s family genealogical line was about to be cut off.  God intervened for Naomi and Ruth and the Davidic genealogical line was not cut off.

“Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the land of Moab, for she had heard in the land of Moab that the LORD had visited His people in giving them food. 7 So she departed from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. 8 And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the LORD deal kindly with you as you have dealt with the dead and with me. 9 May the LORD grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. 10 And they said to her, “No, but we will surely return with you to your people.” 11 But Naomi said, “Return, my daughters. Why should you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? 12 Return, my daughters! Go, for I am too old to have a husband. If I said I have hope, if I should even have a husband tonight and also bear sons, 13 would you therefore wait until they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters; for it is harder for me than for you, for the hand of the LORD has gone forth against me.” Ruth 1:6-13”

There was only one way for the line not to be cut off and that was that Naomi through her foreign daughter in law could be her surrogate and so it happened, and Boaz married and had children with Ruth.

Bathsheba and David

Bathsheba is the first Jewish woman by blood we actually meet, and she was originally married to a Hittite (a foreigner).  She was a pawn in David’s hand to satisfy King David’s lust.  She got pregnant and David tried to cover it up by getting Uriah to lie with his wife.  Uriah was too honourable so David sent him to the front line where he got killed.  David then took Bathsheba to be his wife. Judgement fell on David and the baby died.  Nathan the prophet confronted David about this and David’s repentance is found in Psalm 51:

“1 Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;

According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity

And cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,

And my sin is ever before me.

4 Against You, you only, I have sinned

And done what is evil in Your sight,

So that You are justified when You speak

And blameless when You judge. Psalms 51:1-4”

According to some Rabbinic writings Bathsheba was destined for David but he went about it the wrong way.  Bathsheba along with Nathan played an important role in setting up Solomon for kingship and hence the first Temple to be built for the God of Israel.  Even after David died there were those in court that tried to use Bathsheba for the usurpation of king Solomon’s position to someone else.

Mary (The mother of our Lord) and Joseph the stepfather of Jesus

Mary freely chose to be the receptacle for God taking on humanity through Christ.  Because of her obedience God’s salvation for the world became possible.  It is well worth quoting her song the Magnificat:

46 And Mary said:

“My soul exalts the Lord,

47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

48 “For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;

For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.

49 “For the Mighty One has done great things for me;

And holy is His name.



51 “He has done mighty deeds with His arm;

He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.

52 “He has brought down rulers from their thrones,

And has exalted those who were humble.


And sent away the rich empty-handed.

54 “He has given help to Israel His servant,

In remembrance of His mercy,

55 As He spoke to our fathers,

To Abraham and his descendants forever.”

56 And Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her home. Luke 1:46-56

Mary was devoted to her God and our God.  She conceived as a virgin and King Herod attempted to kill her child.  She had to flee with Joseph to Egypt.  They only came back to Judah when Herod the Great was dead. In Islam she is also very important and there is even a chapter named after her ‘Meryem’.  In the Quran Mary faced persecution by some in the Jewish community for this miraculous birth:

“Later, after Jesus’ birth, Mary brought him to the temple. All of the men in the temple mocked her, except Zechariah, who believed in the virgin birth. The Israelites demanded to know how she could possibly have had a baby without a man, whereupon the Virgin Mary responded by pointing to Jesus who then spoke his first prophecy.” (Taken from

Reflection on these women of great faith

God cares for the unwanted of society as an example in Isaiah it says:

“Learn to do good;

Seek justice,

Reprove the ruthless,

Defend the orphan,

Plead for the widow.” Isaiah 1:17


All the cards were stacked up against these women of faith.  They were helpless and society can at times have a blind eye towards the weak and helpless.  In this genealogy women were especially mentioned as they played a seriously important part for the coming of the Messiah into this sinful world.  It is also very important that in the background of the ministry of Jesus, the backbone that held Jesus’ ministry together was in fact women. This is not a man’s world; it is God’s world and women are just as important as men.  The majority of those in power in history have tended to be mainly men although there are exceptions such as Cleopatra and the Late Queen Elizabeth the Second.  The world is in a mess as we face lots of challenges.  Jesus cared for women that society cast aside, he cared for children, he cared for the sick and he cared for the foreigners (Romans and Samaritans as he taught against racism).  In fact, in Jesus’ life and works (his incarnation) we see a blueprint for an inclusive society. As jesus cared for the weak and vulnerable in society so we too should care for those less able than ourselves, this to me is also an extension of the Christmas story.  As Jesus reminds us later in his sermons that we ought to love God and our neighbour.  Our neighbour is ‘anyone.’


The image of Mary I am using has been taken from:,_mother_of_Jesus

I am using it according to the creative commons law.)

An overview of the genealogies of Christ though the eyes of Matthew the entrepreneur and Luke the white collared professional

November 17, 2022

Have you ever thought about your own family background and where your roots are found?  In today’s world this is big business and with the advent of DNA testing one can find out even more. We all want to know where we are from as it helps us to build a picture of our identity and where we belong.  Sometimes when we read the news either from the papers or online it is sometimes the only good news we can find. However, DNA may also bring one bad news, perhaps one is related to a despot such as Hitler, Mussolini or even Ceausescu and Stalin. Perhaps sometimes it is better to keeps one’s ancestry at a safe distance.  Herod for example was half Edomite and he wanted to hide this from Judaism of the time so he destroyed the archives in which his ancestry could be found.

In Judaism genealogies are very important as they can show in the Old Testament if one is fit to be a priest or not or to be considered Jewish.  So then today we are going to ask the question why two different genealogies about Christ in two Gospels (both legitimate). Before we even consider opening the Gospels we need to be reminded how different Matthew and Luke are.  Matthew was a tax collector for the Romans but had also spent three years with Jesus and Luke was a doctor who could write a profound history. In one children’s encyclopaedia it says about Matthew:

“Saint Matthew is one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. Matthew wrote the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. Sometimes, he is called Levi. He was a tax collector before his decision to follow Christ.

In the New Testament

Among the early followers and apostles of Jesus, Matthew is mentioned in Matthew 9:9 and Matthew 10:3 as a publican who, while sitting at the “receipt of custom” in Capernaum, was called to follow Jesus. He is also listed among the twelve, but without identification of his background, in Mark 3:18, Luke 6:15 and Acts 1:13. In passages parallel to Matthew 9:9, both Mark 2:14 and Luke 5:27 describe Jesus’ calling of the tax collector Levi, the son of Alphaeus, but Mark and Luke never explicitly equate this Levi with the Matthew named as one of the twelve.

Early life

Levi was a 1st-century Galilean (presumably born in Galilee, which was not part of Judea or the Roman Iudaea province), the son of Alpheus. As a tax collector he would have been literate in Aramaic and Greek. His fellow Jews would have despised him for what was seen as collaborating with the Roman occupation force.

After his call, Matthew invited Jesus to his home for a feast. On seeing this, the Scribes and the Pharisees criticized Jesus for eating with tax collectors and sinners. This prompted Jesus to answer, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Mark 2:17, Luke 5:32)” (Taken from

The same children’s encyclopedia says:

“Luke the Evangelist is said to be the man who wrote the Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. Irenaeus, Eusebius of Caesarea and Jerome say that he was a friend of Saint Paul and a doctor, and that he accompanied Paul on some of his travels. These people also say that he was of Greek origin, from Antioch in Syria.

Modern-day scholars think that the person that wrote the two books was not the same that accompanied Paul. Paul had a theology that was special, and slightly different from that of other writers of the New Testament. The two books written by Luke never refer to this theology. Also, the name of Paul’s companion is never linked to writing the two books. The Acts of the Apostles often tell things about Paul which Paul does not tell himself in his letters.

Luke wrote about the Three Wise Men who visited Jesus in the Bible. Luke never said there were 3 wise men, only wise men from the east.” (Taken from

To sum up then these two Gospel writers one was a physician who was highly educated and the other was originally a tax collector for the Romans!  He would have been seen by his own people ‘worse than scum’ for collaborating with the Romans.  Having said that Matthew had some special qualities and in the Masters hand he wrote a beauytiful Gospel in which one of the geneologies is found. 

So how intelligent was Matthew to be a tax collector and what were their jobs?


“Tax farming deals in newly acquired eastern provinces in Asia Minor proved to be a highly lucrative source of income for the companies, which placed publicani in competitive positions with the appointed local governors of the provinces. Also, the exclusion of the publicani from the Senate opened up positions for them in the special courts, allowing them to weigh the limits and practices of government power.[1]

The actions of the publicani were fiercely criticised. They were accused of insurance fraud in delivering goods during the Punic wars, of excessive greed when collecting taxes in the provinces, of exceptionally cruel conduct towards slave labour working in the mines, and of fraudulent practices in trying to get rid of unprofitable public contracts. However, surviving literary sources are mainly based on accounts of senators, who were in a competitive position with the publicani. Still, the overall operation of the private contractors seems to have supplied satisfactory results for the management of the Republic.

The degradation of the role of private contracting coincided with the beginning of the rule of the emperors, during which the oligarchic power of the Senate had to give way for the autocratic rule of the Caesars, and a more centralised public civil service system replaced private contractors in implementing the most important parts of public policy. However, the order of the knights, to which the publicani belonged, formed the backbone of the population from which civil servants were recruited. Throughout history, the publicani, or, more precisely, their local henchmen, were probably best known from their minor local tax collecting duties in Roman provinces during the imperial era [3]

By New Testament times, the provincial people came to see the publicans chiefly as tax collectors. It is in this sense that the term is used in Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. However, their role as public contractors, especially as regards building projects, was still significant.[citation needed] With the rise of a much larger Imperial bureaucracy, this task of the publicans, as well as their overall importance, declined precipitously. Evidence for the existence of publicans extends as far back as the 3rd century BC, although it is generally assumed[by whom?] that they existed at still earlier times in Roman history. Knowledge of a tentative terminus post quem is taken from the histories of the 1st century AD Imperial historian Livy.” (Taken from

In that sense Matthew was a businessman who knew the inner workings of the financial systems governed by Rome which included building projects.  From this point of view Matthew was probably one of the most educated disciples.

Luke on the other hand was a doctor and a friend of Paul’s.  When I say a doctor I mean a physician, someone who heals people.  He would have known all of the classics such as Plato and so forth.  Luke Greek is some of the most polished Greek anywhere in the New Testament bar (except) the book of Hebrews.  Matthew and Luke are like chalk and cheese; They were very different people.  Yet, Matthew and Luke had one thing in common Love for the Lord Jesus Christ.  Their personalities and their roots from my point of view are completely different but they created two genealogies of Jesus Christ.  We need to be aware of this when we start to look at these geneologies in closer detail.  We can learn a lot about the Lord Jesus because the genealogies are so different.  In Jewish circles genealogy is important to prove identity.  It is possible for example that Luke wrote to a Sadducee priest named Theophilus (See notes below (Taken from Anyhow concerning Jesus identity Mark Matthew Mark Luke and John call Jesus the Son of God.  In Psalm 2 the King ‘The Anointed One’  was the Messiah and the Son of God:

  • The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah Matthew 1:1 …And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!” Matthew 14:33
  • The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Mark 1:1
  • the son of God Luke 3:38
  • In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

I find the above partial verses very interesting.  Matthew starts by stating the facts before the genealogy starts calling Jesus the Messiah. Matthew’s genealogy is very Jewish in style and was aimed at a readership of those who were Jews. Sticking the genealogy at the beginning of the Gospel was the appropriate thing to do.

Mark does not bother with genealogies as he was more interested in his Gentile readership, and it was all to do with action with a powerful first verse that the Son of God has broken into our space and time. For example Mark uses a lot of ‘ands’ in his sentences to join sentences which is really bad Greek but it gets the job done.  He also uses ‘immediately’ a lot.  His Gospel is a fast paced Gospel for the ordinary person on the street.

Luke on the other hand starts to build the evidence slowly and the genealogy does not come until chapter 3 which seems rather late but if he was writing to a high priestly Sadducee official this makes perfect sense.

John does not mess around with convention as for his point of view Jesus being fully Divine breaks into our time and history here on earth.

Matthew’s Genealogy

Matthew was only interested in getting the facts out in terms of salvation history for Israel. He breaks the genealogy into three time spans:

  • From Abraham to David
  • From David to the deportation to Babylon
  • From the Babylonian captivity to the advent of Christ

Matthew prefers to use ‘Father of’ instead of ‘son of’.  From my point of view this is one reason for the chronological direction differences in Matthew.  This way of doing the chronology also allows women to be included in his chronology. 

Luke’s genealogy

The time order is in reverse order from that of Matthew and he says, “When He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age, being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph, the son of Eli, Luke 3:23”

  • He starts from Joseph
  • He ends with before Adam as the Son of God

In Luke’s genealogy it is followed by the ‘son of ’.  It only reflects the male line of descendants

Reflection on the two chronologies.

If Luke was writing to an important priest in the Sadducee party to show the facts about Jesus, then this was a wise move from Luke.  He kept his genealogy within acceptable standards in the Jewish community

Matthew in contrast metaphorically throws an incendiary bomb into his work.  He is not afraid to mention women in his genealogy:

  • Tamar got pregnant outside of wedlock
  • Rahab was a prostitute (a foreigner)
  • Ruth was a Moabitess (a foreigner)
  • Mary was a virgin (Pregnant outside of marriage although she was a virgin)

We have two versions of the genealogy of Jesus, one that is safe for the standards of the day and Matthew’s genealogy which smashed the ‘safe boundaries.’


Matthew and Luke were very different people.  Matthew who was a bit of an entrepreneur made deals with the Romans for his living.  A lot of Jews would have hated Matthew’s lifestyle and he would be seen by a lot as a traitor to his country.  As an extra thought Josephus too would have been seen as a traitor as (metaphorically speaking) he caved into the Romans but at the same time today, Jews and Christians will definitely use his sources for information about the destruction of the second temple.  Although Matthew was despised by his fellow Jews Jesus called him and changed him into a true man of God and that is why we have such a beautiful Jewish Gospel.

I think of Luke as ‘steady Luke’.  Luke was highly intelligent, and he was not one of the twelve disciples but a friend of Paul.  I read somewhere that Luke was possibly pleading for Paul when he was in jail in Rome.  Metaphorically speaking he had a safe set of cards and he knew how to communicate in a hostile world. We are privileged to Have Luke and Acts in our Bible written in excellent Greek of the Ancient world.

When I looked at how the two genealogies were formed, I could see two very different people which reflects on how the genealogies were put together:

  • Luke the white collared worker (medical doctor, lawyer and historian)
  • Matthew the entrepreneur. (He was good at making money)

As followers of Christ, we are much richer because of their individual contributions to the Church.


Jewish priest

Some scholars[9] point to Theophilus ben Ananus, High Priest of the Temple in Jerusalem from 37 to 41. In this tradition Theophilus would have been both a kohen and a Sadducee. That would make him the son of Annas and brother-in-law of Caiaphas, raised in the Jewish Temple. Adherents claim that Luke’s Gospel was targeted at Sadducee readers. This might explain a few features of Luke. He begins the story with an account of Zacharias the righteous priest who had a Temple vision of an angel (1:5–25). Luke quickly moves to account Mary’s purification (niddah), Jesus’ Temple redemption (pidyon ha-ben) rituals (2:21–39), and then to Jesus’ pilgrimage to the Temple when he was twelve (2:46), possibly implying his bar mitzvah. He makes no mention of Caiaphas’ role in Jesus’ crucifixion and emphasizes Jesus’ literal resurrection (24:39), including an ascension into heaven as a realm of spiritual existence (24:52; Acts 1:1). Luke also seems to stress Jesus’ arguments with the Sadducees on points like legal grounds for divorce, the existence of angels, spirits, and an afterlife (Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead). If this was the case then Luke is trying to use Jesus’ rebuttals and teachings to break down Theophilus’ Sadducean philosophy, maybe with the hope that Theophilus would use his influence to get the Sadducees to cease their persecution of the Christians. One could also look at Luke’s Gospel as an allegorical (רֶמֶז remez) reference to Jesus as “the man called the Branch” prophesied in Zechariah 3:8; 6:12–13, who is the ultimate high priest foreshadowed by the Levitical priesthood.

Most, if not all, of the commentaries on the Gospel of Luke say the “Question about the Resurrection” pericope presented in Lk. 20:27-40 is the only account in Luke of Jesus confronting the Sadducees. It is true that Luke only mentions the Sadducees by name once but it is not true that this pericope is the only one concerning the Sadducees. The Parables about the Good Samaritan, the Unjust Steward, the Rich Man and Lazarus and the Wicked Tenants are directed to the Sadducees who controlled the temple establishment. These parables are about unfaithful priests. They are the wicked sons of Eli.[10][self-published source?]

All of the New Testament passages concerning alms and almsgiving, except one in Matthew, are in Luke-Acts. Therefore, these parables may be about alms, almsgiving and the proper use of the wealth controlled by the temple authorities. Luke’s criticism focuses on the use of these temple resources by the religious aristocracy for their own selfish purposes. This means that the religious authorities controlled tremendous wealth that had been in times past properly distributed to the people as part of the institutional form of almsgiving. The priests in these parables are unfaithful, dishonest and disobedient because, inter alia, they have not invited the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind to the banquet table. Once the office of the High Priest became non-hereditary, and available to the highest bidder, the institutional role of almsgiving was abandoned or reduced as the purchaser had to recoup his purchase price.[10][self-published source?]

A minority view[who?] identifies Theophilus as a later high priest: Mattathias ben Theophilus who served from 65 to 66. Note that Luke refers to high priest Joseph ben Caiaphas simply as “Caiaphas”.[11] Thus, the reasoning goes, Luke used this pattern when addressing Theophilus.

Gloom and Darkness Before the Rising of the Son (The state of humanity before Christmas time)

November 11, 2022

Before we embark on our programme of learning about Advent and Christmas time it is good to pause and think about light and darkness.  It is great to get up in the morning and the sun is shining. however here in Finland as we come closer to the Christmas it gets darker and darker.  When it gets dark where I live it is very dark. It is so dark that it is easy to fall into the ditch. Here in Finland in certain places we have wolves and bears.  When it is dark there are dangers. Darkness can be scary on certain people like to watch horror films. I personally don’t like horror films and I certainly don’t want to be scared.

When I was a child I lived in Cyprus. Cyprus is a beautiful island, and the sun shines a lot. However, if you stay in the in the sun too long you will get burnt. Part of the culture is for the ladies especially, to stay where it is cool inside the house.  the men tend to go to the cafes and drink coffee. The sun is very hot, and you can get burned. If you put sunshine through a prism one can see lots of beautiful colours.  Show my friends light and darkness are very different. Emotionally when we’re in the light we can feel positive about life. When we are in the darkness it can make us feel negative. I don’t know if it’s true anymore, but I do know but at one time suicide was a serious problem in Finland because of the dark.

John uses light and darkness in his gospel. It is very interesting that John started to write his gospel with in the beginning. The beautiful thing about is his start to this gospel is that jaune takes his readers back to genesis chapter one, the creation story! What is look at genesis 1:

“The Creation

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.  Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. Genesis 1:1-5”

This is an amazing story! So, there was darkness everywhere and there was no order for the world. After the material universe was created it wasn’t a place where we could live as human beings. If anything the the the universe was a hostile place for human beings. Something had to happen and God created but heavens on the earth on the first day.  It wasn’t just darkness anymore but there was light. So the first day hard both light and darkness.  capital God’s word is very powerful my friend. The impressive thing is that God spoke and everything was created. I once read something by Rabbi Sacks.  He said that the Jewish religion is a spoken religion other nations put more emphasis on the visual stuff such as idols and so on. There are some very powerful stories in the Bible and stories are made-up of words. So then in Hebrew aren’t in Greek culture words play an important part for philosophy and religion. Without words you can’t have an argument.  Just imagine a world without words people would have to mime Found it will take a lot longer to get ones message across. In both Hebrew and Greek culture word has an important meaning it is linked to wisdom. For Greeks the logos was wisdom and this is how the philosophers used to talk about it. The power of word and wisdom has played a very important part in western cultures.

For Johns Jesus is the Word, “in the beginning was the word and the word was with God on the word was God”.  We also need to realise that Jesus is the second person of the Trinity. In theology Jesus is fully God and fully Man at the same time. Jesus is usually referred to as the eternal Son and he has always existed with the father and the Holy Spirit.  God sent his son into the world not that the world would be destroyed but by through the work of Christ the world would be saved.

In all the great religions of the world light and darkness are important motifs in explaining great spiritual truths. Before we move on we need to realise what some  great Christians have said about this world. This is a fallen world and people have turned their backs on God. The natural man wants to enjoy himself and this seems to be the most important thing sometimes. In today’s world the idea of duty has been thrown out with the bathtub. There was a time row when there wasn’t sin in the world when God created the garden of Eden. I’m not really interested if you take it literally or whether you take it as an allegory both have the same message. The world God created was perfect and God walked in the garden and he talked with Adam and Eve and they had blissful communication.  This was such a beautiful picture but it was ruined because of disobedience and lies. Do not think that Satan hadn’t a part to play in this fall. Satan took on the form of a serpent and he started to give ideas to eve and he just twisted the truth a little bit to make it look beautiful. He said that if you eat of the tree you will not die but you will be like God.  That’s what he’s good at he deceives. This is why he was cast out of heaven. There is light and darkness my friends and we have been called to live in the light by faith in Christ.

We cannot save ourselves, yet God didn’t give up on us even though creation was marred.  On that special relationship we had with God, that was broken all that time ago, and it was not the end my friends. It would take great courage from God to save us. God became a man he lived among us; he was crucified, he was buried, but death could not hold him down as he was resurrected. Our Lord Jesus was resurrected and in him we can also have eternal life.  God had a plan for us from before the foundation of the world.

I don’t know how election works and there are different takes on it from different theological points of view. On the one hand you have the calvinists who Who talk about the five points of Calvinism:

  • total depravity
  • unconditional election
  • limited atonement
  • irresistible calling
  • perseverance of the Saints

the main drive is to protect the idea of the sovereignty of God that God elects his chosen people.  Others say that it is up to you to make that decision and to become a Christian. For some Christians this takes away the idea of the sovereignty of God.

Karl Barth has got a completely different idea, that Jesus is the as the elect of God and he is both judge on the one who is judged so that we can have eternal life. 1000 words is quite a lot actually

let the theologians argue over these things because it isn’t my point to win an argument. I’m only interested in looking at light and darkness as these are important motifs for the Christmas story.

Why did Jesus have to come into this world in the first place?

It’s because of sin, it is because of darkness, it is because we turned our backs on God. Even though we turned our backs on God, God did not give up on us. We are God special creation and he loves us, This is why the Christmas story is so special. We’re going to drill down a little bit into light and darkness now and we’re going to look at the beginning of John’s gospel in a little more detail where these motifs of light and darkness are found.

The Deity of Jesus Christ

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1:1-5

Verse one

This verse tells us that Jesus is God and it is a very important statement. Some have said that Jesus is a God with a small g.  this is not the case the eternal son was one with the father.

Verse 2

The second verse says that Jesus was with God at the beginning and this excludes angels. Believe it or not angels are created beings just like we are. As a general rule of thumb the good angels reside in the heavens but still they are only created beings. Satan is only a created being.

verse 3

If you remember we read genesis chapter one earlier and John John is reminding us dodgy Jesus played a part in the creation of the world. The creation was perfect my friends because God said on each day that it was good. If God said that it was good then what does it exclude?

It means it wasn’t bad, it was good, it was perfect and this is our God my friends.  In the letters of John it tells us that God is love. The nature of God is perfect love. God through the Son proved that he was perfect love. As a loving father you may be willing to give your life for your child. As a human being would you give your life up for a tramp? Human nature tells me no. This is what God did for us while we were grovelling in our sins and in our lawless state on our way to hell, God became a man. The perfect Creator the perfect Judge, the holy and perfect God became a human being. If you lived in heaven, would you be willing to give it all up?  In our human and selfish state, I don’t think we would leave heaven, that is my opinion.  God however left heaven the place of light and came t oa place full of darkness and lawlessness to sdave us.

Verses 4 -5

Our communion with God was broken and even though as Bavinck puts it somewhere we were spiritually dead to the things of God we were as it were a ‘dead twig’.  Jesus title in the Gospel of John is ‘Light of the World’.


This world is a mess and too many people live in poverty, sickness or in war situations.  If as humans, we cannot even take care of this world then how can we save ourselves from destruction.  I think you already know the answer to that question.  We are in dire straits and the only way this world can be saved is through direct intervention from the Divine (The Trinity).  When we think about this time of year leading into the advent period and into Christmas let us ponder where we as individuals stand.  Perhaps the person reading this blog is from another religion, no religion or agnostic.   All that I can say to you is that whoever you are, God loves you and he wants you to come into fellowship with him.  It is an invitation of love, pure love.  Pure love from God’s side is selfless love wanting only your good.  Even though I am exclusivist in my Christian faith it is because of my exclusivity that allows me to talk to people of other faith or no faiths in humility.  I am not any better than anyone else; God loves the wealthy and the tramps.  God loves the Muslim, Hindu, Jew, Buddhist, atheist et al and the invitation is open to all.  Obviously, you might be from another faith and you might have an exclusive belief system that your religion is correct.  The truth is possibly the golden rule of loving ones neighbour is found in all of the great religions.  This Week we have started looking at this dark world.  We will continue looking at the Gospel and the Christmas story and picking various strands.  Thankyou for reading this blog.