An explanation for Jesus’ singleness?

The dust has long settled on the so-called Gospel of Jesus’ wife. I believe that had Christ been married, we wouldn’t have to wait until the fourth century for documentation on that. The New Testament gospels tell us a lot of things about His life ministry, much of which was ridiculous and/or ignominious to the original audience.

I’ve heard a few explanations for why Jesus was single, but the only ‘natural’ one I’ve heard is from David Instone-Brewer (‘natural’ as opposed to ‘spiritual’, e.g. He had a great mission to accomplish that excluded getting married). Listen to this interview (recorded some months back) in which Instone-Brewer touches on a number of issues, including why Jesus wasn’t married (towards the end).  Does his explanation convince you?

Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Thompson and Thomson. Peter and John.

I try to give my posts curiosity-arousing titles, and I don’t know what ideas this one put in your head. I was aiming for the concept of pairs of people who are always together, in case you were wondering (who knows whether Peter and John dressed alike?). It’s been a while since I read either  Alice in Wonderland or Tintin, so forgive me if I was off-base. 🙂

Simon Peter and John

These two apostles often appear together. Both were fishermen on the Sea of Galilee prior to becoming Jesus’ disciples (Mark 1:16-20). Along with John’s brother James they formed the innermost ring of the Twelve and got to see and experience stuff the others didn’t (the raising of Jairus’ daughter, Mark 537; the transfiguration, Mark 9:2; the Olivet discourse, Mark 13:3; Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane, Mark 14:33).

Peter and John are sent to make preparations for Passover (Luke 22:8). When Mary Magdalene reports that Jesus’ tomb was empty, Peter and John run there together (John 20:1-9). When he recognises the stranger on the beach, John says to Peter, “It is the Lord!” (John 21:7). Peter, on learning his future, wanted to know John’s as well (John 21:20-21).

After Pentecost, Peter and John are together when the cripple at Beautiful Gate was healed (Acts 3:1-11). They were both subsequently hauled before the Sanhedrin and imprisoned (Acts 4:1-22). When the Jerusalem church heard that the Samaritans had accepted the word of God, Peter and John were dispatched to check on the situation (Acts 8:14-25).

Andrew and Philip

The evidence for these two being inseparable is much thinner, I admit. They shared a hometown (Bethsaida, John 1:44). At the feeding of the 5,000 as recorded in John’s gospel both Philip and Andrew get involved in discussing where to buy bread to feed the crowd (John 6:5-9). And when some Greeks came to Philip with a request to see Jesus, he went to tell Andrew and both went to Jesus (John 12:20-22).

So what?

Nothing. No deep thought today. Have a nice day!

Source for the Simon-John connection: Undesigned Coincidences by James Blunt

Luke-Acts: Prayer

Luke wrote a huge chunk of the New Testament, more than anyone else. He also wrote more about prayer than anyone else. Of the nine times he reports Jesus’ prayers, seven of those aren’t found in the other gospels. Luke alone records the three parables on prayer: The unjust judge (Luke 18:1-8), the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14), and The Friend at Midnight (Luke 11:5-8).

Luke records believers praying in the middle of the day and in the middle of the night. They pray alone and in groups. They pray in moments of joy and in distress. They pray in houses, on rooftops, on mountains and on beaches. Click and have a look:

Prayer in Luke-Acts
Prayer in Luke-Acts

Source: Prayer in Luke-Acts, by P. T. O’Brien in Tyndale Bulletin 24 (1973) 111-127 [PDF]

(For the nerdy, yes, I was inspired by a much-hyped computing interface 🙂 )

The Crusades: Probably a lot more than you wanted to know

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Growing up, I detested history. I didn’t see why I had to learn about people I cared nothing for, and most of all, I had no patience to memorise all those dates (which would inevitably turn up on some exam). I escaped taking the subject in the last two years of high school only to have an unavoidable head-on collision with it in university. Incidentally, one of the first YouTube channels I subscribed to earlier this year was Crash Course World History. I’ve come full-circle. (Maybe it’s because I don’t have to sit history exams any more) 🙂

That said, I probably wouldn’t have looked into the history of the Crusades out of my own volition. In part, it would be because I wouldn’t know where to start looking: it’s not a topic we Christians like to talk about. Good for me that a follower of this blog, Eric Costanzo, recently completed a 6-part series on the Crusades:

  1. Deus Vult: Pope Urban II Calls for the First Crusaders in AD 1095 – Were the crusades an unprovoked attack by Latin (Western) Christians on the Muslim world?
  2. The First Crusade and Reclaiming the Holy City (AD 1096-99) – How things went very wrong very fast, and continued downhill.
  3. Bernard of Clairvaux and the Second Crusade (AD 1144-53) – The Latin Christians lose a key city, and consequently many lives and much land.
  4. Lionheart and the Third Crusade (AD 1187-93) – Saladin takes Jerusalem from the Christians and the Pope calls for a new crusade.
  5. The Fourth Crusade & Children’s Crusades: Perhaps Christendom’s Lowest Point (AD 1198-1212) – Those on the fourth crusade attack Eastern Christians, and the Pope rightly condemns them. Someone comes up with the idea that innocent children would succeed where adults had failed, with appalling consequences for the children.
  6. Final Crusades and Final Results (AD 1215-91) – What was there to show for 2 centuries of crusading efforts?

(Yes, I know my little summary statements are rather negative. Sorry.)

Some quick, random, incomplete observations:

  • Those Christians living 1,000 years ago needed to hear the quotation at the head of this post. Despite the slim successes they had, they kept on assembling armies to head East.
  • I’m struck by how quickly noble intentions were replaced by base and vile ones. Is it possible that we do things today under a thin veil of upholding Christ’s glory?
  • The crusading armies, it seems to me, engaged in selective reading of their Bibles. (I smiled at the report of the re-enactment of marching around Jericho in the first crusade.) It looks like they missed the part about Christ’s kingdom not being of this world (John 18:36).
  • The Latin Christians were, as I understand it, reacting to a loss of power and possessions.  Christendom was the dominant force in Western Europe and the concept of being a powerless minority (as in New Testament times)  was utterly unknown.
    As Christians in the 21st century see the reversal of society to pre-Christian, pagan norms  I hope and pray that we would respond in a manner worthy of the Saviour we profess.

The Simon Peter sandwich

The technical term is the ‘Petrine inclusio’, which, in addition to sounding highfalutin, also hints at the absence of literal sandwiches (my apologies if you were expecting one).

The sandwich is this: Peter is the first and last named disciple in the gospel of Mark (1:16, 16:7) and in the gospel of Luke (4:38, 24:34). In John’s gospel, Peter’s inclusio is contained within that of the Beloved Disciple’s.

–From chapters 6 & 7 of ‘Jesus and the Eyewitnesses’ by Richard Bauckham