CHAPTER 55 : Son of David – Son of God

As you commence reading Luke’s Infancy Narratives be aware of the technique he uses. Luke sees the story of salvation, as it is told in the Hebrew Scriptures, integrally linked to, and continued, in Jesus’ life. He also sees similarities between the life of Jesus and the story of Israel.

God reveals himself to Abraham and Sarah. A very old, childless couple, are promised a son. Abraham and Sarah are in the Old Testament.

Zechariah and Elizabeth are also an elderly, childless couple. Elizabeth is barren with no hope of having a child. An angel announces to Zechariah the good news. He will be seen as the last of the prophets of the First Testament. “He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. (Lk 1: 16) Not long afterwards Mary will visit Elizabeth. As they stand facing each other the child in Elizabeth’s womb recognises the unborn Jesus, and the bridge between the past and the new is complete.

Matthew’s primary concern is to link Jesus’ story to the salvation history of the Israelites. His genealogy commences with, “Abraham became the father of Isaac.” He also sees Jesus as the New Moses. Luke places Jesus in the royal line of David and his ancestors were Abraham and Adam, who was from God.

Gabriel was sent to a virgin betrothed to a man called Joseph of the house of David. By making Jesus son of Abraham, Jesus is linked to the Jewish people. Son of Adam identifies Jesus with the human race. Luke goes even further when he states, Jesus is Son of God.

God made two covenants with the Israelites. “I will be your God and you will be my people. .. But if you do not keep all these commandments … I will punish you.” (Lev 26: 12 – 16) The second was made to David referring to one of his descendants.

9“I will make for you a great name .. 13I shall establish the throne of his kingdom forever .. 14I shall be his father, and he will be my son .. 16And your house and your kingdom will be forever.” (2 Sam 7) This is unconditional and forever.

Gabriel announces to Mary, “He (Jesus) will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and God will give him the throne of his father David; and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever. .. and there will be no end to his kingdom.” (1: 32 – 34) This ‘house’ has nothing to do with a building. This is the family of God.

Jesus is certainly, son of David, Son of the Most High, Son of God.

CHAPTER 54: Jesus the New Moses

“Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” (Mt 13: 52) Matthew is this scribe and he tells us about his aim in writing his Gospel.

He sees the Jesus’ Story as the climax of the story of the people of Israel. The God who told the ancient Hebrews, “I will be your God and you will be my people,” (Jer 7: 23) is the God who sent Jesus, Emmanuel, “God is with us.” (1: 23) Matthew will often draw from the Hebrew Scriptures to explain “the newness” of Jesus. In his infancy narrative alone we find, five times, “so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled”. (2: 23)

In his opening sentence Matthew gives us his understanding of who Jesus is, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” We are left in no doubt that this is a Jewish story about a man steeped in his Jewish faith. Jesus ranks along with the most significant people in the history of God’s Chosen People.

There are parallels between the history of the Israelites and Jesus’ infancy.

Matthew’s genealogy roots Jesus in the Jewish tradition. He begins with, “Abraham became the father of Isaac and closes with; Jacob became the father of Joseph, husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah.” (1: 16)

Jacob’s eleven sons followed Joseph into Egypt where, with his help, they escaped starvation. This Joseph was a dreamer. “The Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.”

Moses’ life was threatened by Pharaoh.   Joseph was told, “Rise, take the child (Jesus) and his mother, flee to Egypt,” because his life, too, was threatened by the wicked King Herod.

Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and so Matthew has Jesus living in Egypt until the death of Herod so that, “What was said by the prophet might be fulfilled,Out of Egypt I called my son.’” (2: 15; Hos11: 1)

The first five books of the Bible, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, are known as the Law of Moses. Matthew also divides his gospel into five books. You can easily find where each book ends, “When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes. (7: 28 – 29 and 11: 1;13: 53; 19: 1; 26: 1)

Matthew’s concern is for his fellow Jews. “Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” Jesus advises the Apostles. (10: 6) He also tells the Canaanite woman, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (15: 24)

Even so, the gentiles get two very significant mentions:

⇒ The only people to visit the baby Jesus in Matthew’s gospel are the three wise men, all gentiles. (2: 11)

⇒ “Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations.   … I am with you always, until the end of time.” (28: 19 – 20) This is what Jesus asks of us.

CHAPTER 53 – Jesus. Do you know him?

Pause for a few moments to think about your relationship with Jesus. You may answer; “He is my friend; or, I admire him and follow his example; or His teachings inspire me.” Each one of us has an unique understanding of and relationship with, the Lord.   It was just the same for Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They present us with their understanding of Jesus.

No wonder that each Gospel is so different.

At the end of John’s gospel we read. “Now Jesus did many signs .. these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.” (Jn 20: 30 – 31) In 1 John 1: 3 he continues, “So that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

John’s purpose for writing his Gospel was fourfold. That:

  • We should come to knowledge and understanding of Jesus;
  • We accept him in every way and follow his teaching;
  • We enter into a deep relationship with our Christian Community; and
  • We grow in our relationship with Jesus and the Father.

Mark opens his gospel with three prophetic calls.

The first voice we hear is that of the Prophet Isaiah. He lived in the 8th century BC. His message here is:

A voice crying in the desert;
Prepare the way of the Lord,
Make straight his paths. (Is 40: 3)

The second voice is that of John the Baptist. “He appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mk 1: 4) Here, the second prophet is calling people to transformation. It is remarkable that this prophet is a layman, John the Baptist, and he delivers his message far away from the temple.

Jesus also leaves the desert and goes to Galilee. “”There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come, the kingdom of God in close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’” (1: 14 – 15)

Mark, presents Jesus to us as a PROPHET, our teacher, God’s messenger.

This is a good time for you to take out your Bible and read Mk 1: 1 – 15.

Mark also presents Jesus as the SUFFERING SON OF MAN. The significance of this title is underlined by being repeated fourteen times.

How do you see Jesus?

Article 53: How Great We Are

When we ponder the Scriptures prayerfully we no longer feel alone.  We have the unshakeable certainty that someone is seeking us and someone is standing by our side, and we are given new strength and encouragement through the presence of the Risen Lord.

Paul writes to us   “Now the Lord is the spirit and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  We, with unveiled faces, reflect like mirrors the brightness of the Lord.   All glow brighter and brighter as we are turned into the image that we reflect; this is the work of the Lord who is spirit.”  (2 Cor 3: 17 – 18)

Note:  “We reflect the brightness of the Lord.  We are turned into the image of the Lord.”  Can this really be true?  Think about it!

The following verse puzzled some women in a Bible Study group.

 “He/God will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.”  (Mal 3: 3)

They wondered what this statement could mean.
One of the women offered to find out the process of refining sliver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study.  That week, she called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work.  She did not mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining sliver.

As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up.  He explained that in refining sliver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire, where the flames were hottest, so as to burn away all the impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse that says: “He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.”  She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refines. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire.  If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, “How do you know when the silver is fully refined?”

He smiled at her and answered, “Oh, that’s easy – when I see my image in it.”

If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has his eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.

Paul assures us: “You are our letter, a letter of Christ, written by the Spirit of the living God on your hearts.  God has indeed appointed us as ministers of a new covenant. (2 Cor 3: 2 – 6)  All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image. (2 Cor 3: 18)

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,  .. teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  I am with you always.”  (Mt 28: 19 – 20)

Article 52: God, the Nagging Widow

Here is a short quiz.  Can you say what took place on each of these dates:

  1. 9/11
  2. 11 March 2004
  3. 20 March 2003

My guess is that most of us got just one right.

  1. 9/11            Destruction of World Trade Centre       5000 dead
  2. 11 March 2004    Madrid station bombed
  3. 20 March 2003    Bombing of Iraq      100 000 dead

If we can only remember the first date, what does this say about the impact, each of these events, had on us?  Why do we remember 9/11, when the symbol of wealth was destroyed, and no longer remember the poor people of Iraq?

Perhaps the parable of the of the ‘unjust judge’ or ‘the nagging widow’,  has something to teach us all.

1 Then Jesus told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always and not to lose heart.

2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. 3 In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, “Grant me justice against my opponent.’ 4 For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’ ”

6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? 8 I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them.”   (Lk 18: 1 – 8)

This parable is usually interpreted as encouraging us to persevere in prayer. Perhaps there is another way of understand it.  In Verbum Domini, Pope Benedict tells us that, “Prayer is listening to God speaking to us and we responding to God’s Words.”  God, speaking through the nagging widow, in the parable, continues urging us to act justly to the poor and the powerless of our society.  Perhaps we are too self-centred, so concerned about our busyness, that we no longer have time to think of others.  We often focus on the large tasks we can do little to change.  The small deeds are also important; a slice of bread, a kindly remark, a gentle word of advice, will bring comfort to those in pain.

Our God is pushing us, through today’s prophets.  “Give the poor and the powerless what they need!”

God says to Moses  “I have seen the misery of my people here in Egypt; I have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know well what they are suffering; therefore I have come down to bring them up from that land and to bring them to a beautiful spacious land flowing with milk and honey.”  Moses is then given his mission and so are we:

“Go now!  I am sending you.”  (Ex 3: 7 – 8, 10)

How are we going to respond to our “nagging widow God’s” invitation to help the poor?  Will our God find us true to the highest values of our humanity, feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the ill and visiting the imprisoned?  (Mt 25: 35 – 36)

(After Br Philip Pinto)

Article 50.2: Luke’s Easter Sunday (Lk 24)

“Christ is risen; why do you believe this”, asked the preacher of his congregation?  Luke’s account of Easter Sunday gives us insight into how the first Christians came to believe this and how we too will deepen our faith in the Risen Christ.

When the women announced that,  they had been told Jesus “had been raised”, the eleven and all the others were convinced that “their story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe them.”

At this point Luke introduces us to a couple who were on The Way to Emmaus.

“Now that very day two of them (his disciples) were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem.”  Along The Way they converse with a stranger.  They tell him all about “Jesus of Nazareth who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God.”  He was crucified and some women reported that “he was alive .. but we did not see him.”

We are all familiar with how the story on the road to Emmaus unfolds.  Jesus goes to great lengths to explain how the Scriptures relate to him.  “Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on The Way and opened the scriptures to us.”  Luke is using this story to teach his community and us the importance of the Scriptures in their spirituality.  Four times he repeats this lesson.. (27, 32, 44, 45)  We, too, are encouraged to visit the Word of God, frequently.

Do I experience, Christ Risen, in my life?  Yes!  A two year old girl was struck down with polio.  Mary never ran, jumped, danced or skipped.  With great courage she overcame her challenges. One day, on opening the Book of Genesis, she read,           “Truly, the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”  (Gen 28: 16)  A whole new joy entered her life.  “My heart was burning as he opened the word to me,’ became her prayer.  Mary’s struggles now had meaning.

“He took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them.  With that their eyes were opened.”  The Eucharist is the second corner stone of our spiritual lives.  Vatican ll tells us:

The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since from both the Word of God and the Body of Christ she unceasingly receives and offers the faithful the bread of Life.  (21)

Doubt continues to hinder the disciples from coming to the realisation that, the risen Jesus is active in their lives.  In response to Jesus’ greeting, “Peace be with you,” “They were still incredulous.”

“Everything about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.  Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.”

Look at the transformation that takes place in them.  “They returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising God.”  This is the change that we will experience as we receive the Body and Blood of Christ at the table of the Word and the table of the Body of Christ.  (Verbum Domini 56)

Article 47: Jesus the Rebel

The Woman at the Well  Jn 4: 1 – 42

I am sure we are all familiar with this story, if not, I suggest that you take time to read it once more from your Bible.

On the surface this is a rather simple story. Jesus meets the woman at the well. He asks her for a drink of water. They discuss the merits of the Jewish and Samaritan religions.  Along the way the woman tells a little of her personal story. The village is converted to following Jesus’ teaching. Nothing very challenging, here. Why call it, “Jesus the Rebel?”

When reading the Gospel of John, we should remember that all the stories have a symbolic meaning.  John never intended to write a newspaper report. He and his community had been reflecting on the memories of Jesus. Day by day they grew in their understanding of Jesus and the Good News he came to share. Through discussion, reflection and prayer, their understanding and love of Jesus grew. It is this understanding John shares with us in this story.

The story opens with Jesus deciding to return to Galilee.

He had to pass through Samaria”.  Now this is incorrect. Jesus was probably  near Salim.  A glance at the map of Israel shows that the shortest route to Galilee was to go north along the Jordan valley. (dotted arrow)  The route he took is shown with a solid arrow. As a Jew he should not have gone near Samaria.

By having him go through Samaria John is showing us that Jesus could see no division between Jew, Gentile and Samaritans.  This is revolutionary thinking.

Jews and Samaritans had hated each other for seven hundred of years. In 721 the conquering Assyrians deported many Jewish inhabitants and colonised Samaria with foreigners. Jews and Pagans inter-married. Any person born of such parents could never be accepted as a ‘proper’ Jew. (These ideas sounds familiar to us.) Worse still they built their own temple. Of course God could not possibly have lived there. All Jews knew God lived only in Jerusalem. Just to make sure that God did not go near the wrong temple, the Jewish High Priest organised the destruction of the Samaritan temple. (128 BC) When Jesus goes out of his way to visit Samaria he is challenging the ‘apartheid’ in Jewish and Samaritan thinking.

Sitting at the well, he speaks to the woman, “Give me a drink.’( v 7) “Now Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.” The woman can hardly believe what is happening. Jewish men do not talk to women in public. Worse still, they are alone and she is a Samaritan. Jesus is flouting custom and prohibition, by behaving in this scandalous manner.

Women went to collect water from the well in the morning and evening. Her presence there at noon indicates that she is not even accepted by the women of her community. Not surprising when you think about the five husbands.

When his disciples return they are not impressed. “They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, ‘What do you want’ to the woman? or, to Jesus, ‘ Why are you speaking with her?’

Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! Perhaps he is the Messiah.”

Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony. They came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. “We have heard for ourselves and we know that this is truly the saviour of the world.” (v 39 – 42)

This must be one of the most successful conversion stories of all time. Seven hundred years of hatred come to an end in this village.  Women are raised to a status equal to men. The apostle to the Samaritans is a nameless woman.

Follow her changing attitude to Jesus.  First he is “a Jew” asking for water. Jesus’ kind and considerate behaviour pays off and very soon her attitude changes. She addresses him as, “Sir”.  (v 15)  Her relationship changes further, from prophet, to ‘the Messiah’, maybe, to ‘the Saviour of the world.’ All it took was a little kindness and the courage to challenge the unthinking prejudice towards Samaritans and Women.

Article 46.1: Mark’s little people

Who is the most important friend of Jesus in Mark’s Gospel? I am sure if you asked this question in your Bible Sharing group there would be many answers. My answer is, ‘YOU’.
Having introduced Jesus and John, Mark turns his attention to us. “After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: ‘This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe the gospel.’ (1: 14-15)  You and I are the only persons around to hear this most important message.  Read it over and over. It is God’s message to you, today.

On Easter Sunday morning Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go and anoint him. On entering the tomb they saw a young man who told them, “Jesus has been raised, he is not here. Go and tell his disciples and Peter.”  A fairly simply message. There response was to be seized with trembling and they said nothing to anyone. Now, if they did not tell anyone who is going to spread the Good News. “YOU are!”

Do not be overawed at the prospect. Along the way you are going to meet some quite interesting people who will give you a helping hand.

One Sabbath day as Jesus was leaving the synagogue after the service Peter invited him to his home. Actually he was worried about this mother-in-law who was suffering from a fever. On reaching the house Jesus entered and cured here helping her to get up. We are told that the fever left her and then she ministered to them. She certainly did not make lunch, that was prepared sometime on Friday. A close reading of ministered, suggests, that she brought the Good News of Jesus teaching to her family and community – an apostle.

While on a preaching tour of Galilee Jesus met a leper and cured him. Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one, and go show yourself to the priest.” The encounter with Jesus must have been a memorable experience, so much so, that he could not stop talking about.  Once more we meet an unlikely messenger of the Gospel.

Jesus continues his journey through Galilee eventually coming back to the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He and his disciples cross the lake to the pagan side where they meet the Gerasene demoniac. Remember how Jesus drove out the demons which went charging into the sea and the man had his humanity restored for, he was sitting there clothed and in his right mind. (5: 15)  Not surprisingly this person wanted to follow Jesus. However, Jesus had other plans for him. “Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his mercy has done for you.”  He is the third person to take up the challenge to spread to Good News.

“What about the twelve Apostles;” I hear you asking?  True; Peter, Andrew, James and John are called early in Chapter 1 of Mark’s gospel. The next time we hear about the twelve is in Chapter 3. Jesus having spent time in prayer “summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him.  He appointed twelve that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach.” (3: 13-14). We have to wait until Chapter 6 before they start sowing the seed of the Word of God.  We are told that they did very well.  They reported to Jesus all that they had done and taught. (6: 30)

Are Peter’s mother-in-law, the leper, the man from Gerasa, the twelve; such little people?

Luke describes Jesus’ founding community. Accompanying him were the twelve; some women; Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susana and many others.  (Lk 8: 1- 3)

You may be able to identify Mary and many others in the photograph below.

Article 45: Out of Darkness

I suggest that you read the parable of the vineyard in Matthew 20: 1 – 16 before continuing with this article.

In chapter 19 of Matthew’s gospel Jesus does some straight talking.  He challenges the Pharisees on the question of divorce.  The disciples get into trouble for chasing children away.  The rich young man and Jesus’ disciples are forced to re-think their attitude to wealth.  Peter asks, “What will there be for us?”  One can sense a despondency. Is it really that hard to enter the kingdom??

Why does the evangelist have Jesus respond to this situation with a parable?  Earlier in the gospel we are told that Jesus uses parables to “explain the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.”  (13: 11)  Elsewhere we read, “In parables I will announce what has lain hidden.”  (13: 35)  Let us see what is revealed in this parable.  Most people react negatively when their values and understanding of God are challenged.  When Jesus spoke in parables, “The Chief Priests and Pharisees knew he was talking about them.  They wanted to arrest him.  (21: 45 – 46)

“Seek the Lord while he may be found, call him while he is near. Turn to the Lord for mercy; to our God, who is generous in forgiving.  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.  As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.”  (Is 55: 6 – 9)

1The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. 

All is darkness as the ‘Lord of the household’ sets out to find people to work in his vineyard.  Slowly the light spreads across the sky.  The darkness that is within us will become light as we enter into this parable.

The landowner and the labourers agree on the normal wage for a day’s work.  One denarius was enough to be able to feed and provide for a family.  Just in case we miss the message, the amount is repeated seven times.  Each one of us should be satisfied with enough of the earth’s wealth, sharing our surplus with the less fortunate.

Each of the five visits to the market place follows the same pattern. “He went out and saw others standing around.  ‘You go into the vineyard too.”  Early in the gospel the same pattern used for the call of the first apostles.  The hiring is not a once off event.  The farmer goes back four more times.  Every single person is invited to come into the vineyard.  Nobody is excluded.

8When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, “Call the labourers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ 9When those hired about five o’clock came forward, each of them received the usual daily wage.

The people listening must have been amazed at the turn of events.  Such generosity was the last thing they expected.  One denarius for an hour’s work – incredible.  Impossible!  Surely the reward for working in the kingdom is fair pay for time worked.  “Not so,” says the owner.   We are faced with changing our understanding of justice.  Scripture tells us that in God’s kingdom, justice means we receive what we need.  Justice does not mean getting what we deserve, either in terms of punishment for wrongdoing or payment for good works.  The kingdom of God cannot be earned, all is the gift of an incredibly generous God.  Surely, we are called to follow this example.

How fitting that the story should end on such a high note.  Sadly our pettiness spoils the ending.

10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11 And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12 saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’

Envy, is their only response to a just and generous employer.  Envious people calculate, look at what others have and what they do not; what they could have received and did not.  Generous people open their hearts to situations, they welcome the opportunity to make things better, rejoice in the good others do.  Whose example do we follow, the disgruntled, envious workers, or the generous farmer?

Nothing in this story goes according to our thinking.  God will not be outdone in generosity.

Everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more and will inherit eternal life.  (19: 29)

Article 43: Life

Gen 2: 4b – 3: 24

How would you teach people about the realities of our existence; where we come from;
life and death; good and evil; the ups and downs of living; suffering? You could opt for a
theatrical presentation with a philosophical, theological and scientific approach. I doubt if
your presentation would run for more than one night. That would depend on how many of
the audience came back after interval on the opening night! On the other hand you could
tell a cracking good story. This is what the farmer author of the second creation story did.
It is still popular after 3000 years.

Our perception and image of God depends on our human experience. It is not surprising
that the author makes God a farmer like himself. All life comes from the soil. No wonder,
we see God’s muddy hands shaping the clay and breathing life into “adam”, a human being.

(2: 7) Man’s food supply will come from the trees God planted: (2: 9) Generously, God
supplements the water supply from four rivers. He is equally generous with rich deposits of gold and precious stones. What more could a farmer wish for? This is the paradise created for us and God is right there.

Our farmer author realises that his story is far from complete. Women and sexual attraction need to be explained. “It is not good for man to be alone,” says God. What he really means is: “Surely, I can do better than this lonely creature.” Ever practical, God puts “adam” to sleep and divides him in two. (The rib we have all heard of could also be translated – side.) Male (ish) and female (ishshah) come into existence. No wonder that they are crazy about each other. They are two parts of the original whole, which makes them equal and complimentary.

Humanity is off to a glorious start – life is in our hands. Central in all our lives are two
trees, “the tree of life … and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (2:9b) The
choice is ours. Tension enters the story. How will humanity react? They could not possibly
want to know (experience) evil or would they … ?

The lights dim on the stage, haunting music is heard and a shiver runs through the audience. Silently the snake makes his entry. “Did God tell you not to eat from any of the tress in the garden,” he asks the woman? A talking snake! Snakes only speak in fairy tales and myths. Remember, this is not historical. It never happened. Our farmer author is trying to explain the existence of the good and evil he sees all around him. I feel sorry for the snake because some people have equated him with the devil. There is nothing in the story to justify this assertion. Sorry, Mr Snake.

The snake promises the man and the woman that they will become like gods if they eat
from the tree. Sadly they fall for the trick. “Good and evil”, means that they will know
everything and this is God’s prerogative. They want to be like God. If that happens they

Life becomes one long misery for them.

In a few short lines our author comes up with an explanation for a wide range of facts about life. “Where are you?” God calls. When we think God is far from us, guess who has moved!

Not God! The man and the woman can no longer stand comfortably before God. Their
nakedness, has little to do with how much clothing they have on. It means to be in full view with nothing hidden. Limitations are there for all to see. We may have changed, but our God has not. Shame and disgrace make it difficult to accept ourselves and live with our
mistakes. Now we have to cover-up, pretend – make ourselves look good. No wonder God
asks, “Where are you?”

Who was to blame for this mess? The man blames the woman and God. “The woman
whom you put here with me – she gave me fruit from the tree.” The woman blames the
snake. Does this sound familiar?

According to the story, sin explains a multitude of our afflictions: snakes crawl around on
their tummies; woman experience pain in child-birth; “by the sweat of his brow shall you
get bread to eat,” and when you plant crops you had better be ready to do a lot of weeding.
All these had been around for a long time and none of these are a punishment for sin. This
story provides a neat explanation for the unfathomable.

Was all lost in this disaster! No!

Our compassionate, merciful and faithful God takes the initiative and surprisingly, “.. made leather garments,” for them. (3: 21)