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「道成了肉身,住在我們中間,充充滿滿的有恩典(Charis)有真理(Alethia)。我們也見過他的榮光,正是父獨生子的榮光。」(約翰福音1:14)

Zechariah’s Muteness

Most expositions of Zechariah’s story in Luke 1:1-25 assume two things:

  1. Zechariah prayed for a child and his prayer got answered.
  2. His muteness was a punishment for his unbelief.

Last Sunday as I was listening to the sermon, I questioned these two traditional assumptions and came up with some new thoughts that deserve more investigation. Frankly, I haven’t done any further research yet, but I’d like to share my thoughts and see if anyone has any feedback.

  1. First of all, nowhere says Zechariah and Elizabeth prayed for a son. We only know that they are righteous and blameless in front of God (1:6), and they are childless and well advanced in years (1:7). If Zechariah really prayed for a son, why would he be so surprised and doubtful of God’s ability when his prayer was answered (1:18)? Shouldn’t he be happy and praise God instead?

    I think it’s much more likely that he DID NOT pray for a son, but prayed for what every faithful Jew would pray for in that context–the coming of the Messiah and God’s vindication for Israel. (Afterall, we know that he’s a righteous and blameless Jew serving in the priesthood.) What actually surprised him then, I think, was HOW God would achieve His plan, i.e. through a son, bore by his barren wife, to become the forerunner of the coming Messiah. That’s why he was a bit perplexed and doubtful of Gabriel’s message. I think this explanation is more logical and congruent to the context. So no, I don’t think they ever prayed for a son. They knew their condition (barrenness & old-age) and accepted it as their fate.

  2. Most preachers would introduce the background of this story by saying that there was a famine of God’s word for almost 400 years (Amos 8:11). God stayed mute to His people for 400 years. I suddenly connected the dots and wondered if Zechariah’s muteness has anything to do with God’s muteness. Was it only a punishment for his unbelief, or more like a chance for him to experience what it is like to stay mute and be patient until the appointed time of the fulfillment of things? God stayed mute for 400 years. Zechariah stayed mute for 40 weeks. I don’t know, but I always think that God does not do things randomly without reason. If God wanted to punish Zechariah, he could do it a thousand ways differently. Why must it be muteness? There must be some connection between his muteness and God’s muteness prior to this event…

    No matter what, the effect of Zechariah’s muteness was that this miracle caused him, first of all, to praise God when he opened his mouth (1:64), and more importantly, the people in all the hill country of Judea to start fearing God (1:65). So part of what John was supposed to do (1:17) was already accomplished through his father’s incident. Even punishments can have positive and constructive purposes.

So that’s what I thought. What do you think, my friends? Have you come across any commentaries that connect God’s muteness with Zechariah’s muteness? I’ll check out some Luke commentaries from the library tomorrow. Will see…


Posted in Biblical, Posts in English.

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This is what “holy” means…

Image from xkcd.com


Posted in Funny, Inspirational.

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笑話:嗲哋,I love you!

尋晚,阿女大聲同我講:「嗲哋,I love you!」
我當然冧到爆。
不過,我老婆突然問:「吓,咩『甩褲』話?」
爆笑。


Posted in Family, Funny, Parenting, Posts in Chinese.

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Redeem the Pumpkin

This is what I wrote on facebook. Just posting it here for records:

Well, personally I don’t celebrate Halloween, but I don’t feel the need to give extra emphasis to condemn it on this particular day. If we are to condemn, there are many many more things that are also abhorrent to God, such as celebrating the blatant consumerism of lining up and fighting over goods during black Fridays, or worshipping singers, stars, business and sport celebrities as idols or even as gods (just watch Steve Jobs’ memorial service. It was almost like a typical praise and worship service.)

Why do I seldom see Christians posting on their facebook walls about these things, condemning them as cultures that God disapproves?

Anyways, as resurrected people, we need to redeem things, not just condemn things. Pumpkin is a good creation of God. Redeem it for its good purposes. Here is something I got from an email:

“Being a Christian is like being a pumpkin. God lifts you up, takes you in, and washes all the dirt off of you. He opens you up, touches you deep inside and scoops out all the yucky stuff–including the seeds of doubt, hate, greed, etc. Then He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside you to shine for all the world to see.”

Now this is what redemption is about. All Saints’ Day was originally celebrated on the first Sunday after Pentecost. Pope Gregory III (731–741) intentionally moved it to November 1st to overlap it with the pagan harvest festival to redeem it. Why aren’t we following the same spirit to redeem bad things and make it good?

Redeem culture, create culture. That’s what we need to do.

Further Reading:

 


Posted in Culture, Posts in English.

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Wright on Hell & Bell


Posted in Eschatology, Theology.

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食生蠔,要加鹽加醋

雖然本人並非生蠔粉絲,但亦知道識得食生蠔的人士,食生蠔時絕不會加鹽加醋,只會新鮮拆開「雪」一聲吞落肚,就連殼內新鮮的海水也要品嘗。

食生蠔要加鹽加醋的人,根本不認識生蠔。

同樣地,那些整天嚷著說福音對一般人的生活很「遙遠」,強調教會必需「令」福音「變得」更加 relevant 的人,其實與食生蠔要加鹽加醋的人無異。因為他們根本不認識自己食的東西是什麼。以為自己做了好事,實際上卻破壞了那原有的鮮味。

我認為,福音或耶穌基督根本上與世界上每一樣東西每一件事也 relevant 不過(西1:15-20),我們只須指出 (“point out”) 它已有的 relevancy,而並非要「令」它「變得」更加 relevant。

遙遠,其實並不是福音,而是那些加鹽加醋的人。

他們離福音的真義才是遙遠。


Posted in Culture, Mission & Evangelism, Posts in Chinese.


Jesus Saves, I Spend

Saw this T-shirt in this CNN news article. It’s actually a band t-shirt, of a song by the musician St. Vincent.

I think it pretty much sums up what contemporary Christianity, deeply influenced by consumerism, has become.

Brilliant, but sad.

Related:

Shopping、買色情雜誌 = 敬拜撒旦! 培靈大會鮑維均牧師:你夠膽讓神看月結單嗎?


Posted in Culture, Posts in English.

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