My church let me preach another sermon. Here it is.


Tanner-the-anunciation-mary

Believe it or not, even after preaching my first real sermon ever, my church let me preach again. All jokes aside, I had the honor of preaching this past Sunday as part of our Advent series.

The text is Luke 1:26-38, the moment in the life of Jesus known as The Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel tells Mary that she will give birth to Jesus. Cameos in the sermon include Mary, Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Barth, the podcast Serial, racism, white privilege, and the story of everything. Here’s the audio:

You can also download it here, or subscribe to our podcast here.
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#Marginalia Weekly Round-Up #6 [Catch-Up]


After a long break, we’re back with this part of the site. Here’s a little catch up list of where we’ve been since we last posted about this.

Marginalia is a section of this blog dedicated to (mostly) short reflections, meditations, questions, and difficulties I have while going through my Bible reading plan. I’m still trying to figure out the best pace at which to post these, so be patient with me. To aid in helping people engage with these posts, every weekend I post a round-up of all of Marginalia posts that appeared during that week. This list is in biblical canonical order.

Job

Job, God, & Satan (Can I get some help from the scholar’s out there?)| Job 1.6-7
God, Social Justice, & Social Welfare | Job 5.15-16
Fragments from a speech by Job| Selections of Job 6 & 7
Job’s Friends are Right! Job’s Friends are Wrong.| Job 8.5-7,20-22
In a sense, God CAN’T favor the righteous| Job 9.1-4

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Anna, the Prophet of the Lord | Luke 2.36-38


There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
Luke 2.36-38

What a powerful testimony. She was only married for seven years before her husband died. She had been a widower for 84 years. What pain and loneliness she must have felt. And yet, how did she spend it? Serving God’s people as a prophet, being especially in tune with those “looking for Israel’s redemption” and then proclaiming Jesus to them. Even before the Cross and Resurrection, Jesus was the answer for the longing of God’s people for redemption.

Also, Luke said he went through all of the accounts and picked and chose what would get “in” and what wouldn’t. Of all the little anecdotes he chooses to keep in and keep out, he chooses this. What a powerful woman she must have been for her to have been seered into the collective consciousness of God’s people retelling this story.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Jesus Getting Snarky Over the Sabbath | Luke 6.1-5


One sabbath while Jesus was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked some heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands, and ate them. But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?”

Jesus answered, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and gave some to his companions?” Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”
Luke 6.1-5

I’ll be honest, I really don’t understand Jesus’ logic here. Yes, I get that Jesus is referencing this David story to simply say that there is precedent for eating food (even holy food) on the Sabbath. But if that’s the case, his logic is this: “You don’t like what I’m doing? Well, based on a very simplistic reading of the Bible, someone else did it, therefore I can do it.”

He does know that David also did the whole adultery and murder thing with Bathsheeba, right? Just because someone else did it, doesn’t explain why you have the right to do it. Secondly, after saying saying all this, he goes ahead and says that it doesn’t even matter anyway because he is “lord of the Sabbath”.

So, in the end, it seems to me like Jesus is just trying to be snarky here.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Jesus in His Father’s House: Rebuke, Encouragement, & Promise | Luke 2.46-51


After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
Luke 2.46-51

These are Jesus’ first words in Luke. I wonder if this is a prophetic word for all of us looking for redemption, salvation, peace, and God’s presence. I wonder if he looks at us, and says “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know I’d be in my Father’s house?” In two short and simple questions, Jesus gives us a rebuke (Why have you run yourself ragged looking in all the wrong places?), an encouragement (You have found me nonetheless.), and a promise (And I’ll always be right here for you to find me.).

No wonder this was something for Mary to treasure. We should treasure it as well.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

John, the Holy Spirit, & Prenatal Worship| Luke 1.12-15, 41-45


When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Luke 1.12-15

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
–vv.41-45

The angel’s prophecy might be a foreshadow of John’s leaping in Jesus’ presence before he is born. If that’s the case, then being “filled with the Holy Spirit” being overjoyed in the presence of God. This is surely a theme throughout the Gospel and Acts: who has the Holy spirit and what that causes in those people, namely joy.

Secondly, this is such a beautiful passage and an evidence that children can experience spiritual things before their born. David says elsewhere that he loved God even while in the womb. This should (hopefully) mess with the heads of those that deny the place on infant baptism in God’s Church.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Responding to Prophets: The Holy Spirit Changes Everything | Acts 11:27-30


At that time prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them named Agabus stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine over all the world; and this took place during the reign of Claudius. The disciples determined that according to their ability, each would send relief to the believers living in Judea; this they did, sending it to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

Acts 11:27-30

Sounds pretty Old Testament to me. But notice how the people of God respond. In the OT, when prophets spoke all of this, the people either barely responded, or responded in overdramatic wailing and (temporary) repenting. This group of God’s people, however, indwelt with the Holy Spirit, proceed to act in light of the prophecy to seek human flourishing and societal good. This is the response that the prophets of old were looking for and never got.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Where on Earth is Jesus’ Bethlehem? | Luke 2.1-5


In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Luke 2.1-5

Recent archaeological evidence suggests that this Bethlehem is not the traditional site, but “Bethlehem of the Galilee” (which would make sense). The traditional site is 150km from Jerusalem, whereas this other, newer proposed site is only 7km. A lot easier for Mary. Although some dispute this, pointing out that Justin Martyr in the 2nd-century identified the traditional site as the correct site. Who knows?

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Our Exile is for the world’s salvation | Acts 7.6-7


And God spoke in these terms, that his descendants would be resident aliens in a country belonging to others, who would enslave them and mistreat them during four hundred years.‘But I will judge the nation that they serve,’ said God, ‘and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place.’

Acts 7.6-7

Our exile/ambassadorship/pilgrim-nature as well as God’s judgment are all for the sake of the ultimate worshipnot condemnation–of the nations and the world!

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

We worship Christ and…. the Resurrection? | Acts 17 & 24


Also some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers debated with him. Some said, “What does this babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign divinities.” (This was because he was telling the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.)

Acts 17:18

One of the funniest moments in Acts. Notice they accuse him of preaching foreign “divinities” (plural). The Greek word for Resurrection is Anastasis. Paul has rolled in preaching “ton Iesous kai thn Anastasin”, or “the Jesus and the Resurrection”. The Philosophers think that Paul is preaching about two gods: “Jesus” and his wife, “Resurrection”.

I have a hope in God—a hope that they themselves also accept—that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous. Therefore I do my best always to have a clear conscience toward God and all people.

Acts 24:15-16

Paul is obsessed with the resurrection. Well technically, Luke is. If you see the charge against Paul earlier, it was that he was preaching Christ and the Resurrection. They thought he was teaching two gods. Apparently, he must have been talking about the Resurrection so passionately. Almost as passionately as Christ.

They did not accuse him of preaching Jesus and the Cross, Jesus and the Tomb, Jesus and the Jews, Jesus and Grace through Faith, or even Jesus and the New Creation! It was Jesus and the Resurrection. The Resurrection is Paul’s way out of trouble. It’s his way of telling his story. Of causing divisions between himself and some Jews, and to show his solidarity with others. It’s everything to who Paul is and what he’s come to do.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Phillip the Baptizing Magician?| Acts 8.39-40


When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

Acts 8.39-40

What the heck? This happens and the eunuch just goes on his merry way? This is unlike most things in the book of Acts.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

The Storied Propaganda of Acts | Acts 6.7,15


The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

Acts 6.7

That’s odd phrasing. This is telling a certain version of history. Surely this fact would be denied by the Jews at the time. And yet, Luke is trying to paint a picture of the Gospel spreading, to the Jews first (in this section, the focus is on Jerusalem and Peter) and then to the ends of the earth (the big Paul section).

And all who sat in the council looked intently at him [Stephen], and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
–Acts 6:15

Here we see one of the inklings and beginning of the long Christian tradition of saint veneration and myth-making (St. George and the Dragon, anyone?)

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

St. Stephen & the History of Israel | Acts 7.48-53


Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made with human hands; as the prophet says,

‘Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord,
or what is the place of my rest?
Did not my hand make all these things?’

“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are forever opposing the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do. Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, and now you have become his betrayers and murderers. You are the ones that received the law as ordained by angels, and yet you have not kept it.”
Acts 7.48-53

Notice how Stephen does a few things here in this turn.

  1. He skips the history of Israel that includes the Divided Monarchy, Exile, Return, Intertestamental Victories and and Sorrows, and the establishment of the Jewish state under Roman Rule.
  2. He jumps straight from the temple to their Rejection of Jesus. This could be Jesus’ connection as a New Temple among us, it could highlight Israel’s inordinate obsession with the temple, even unto the rejection of their Messiah, or it could be a reference to the charges they brought against Jesus to get him crucified: blasphemy against the temple.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

In Acts, Paul = Jesus | Acts 27.35-36


After he had said this, he took bread; and giving thanks to God in the presence of all, he broke it and began to eat. Then all of them were encouraged and took food for themselves.
Acts 27.35-36

Here is an obvious parallel between Jesus and Paul. I don’t know if these features are meant to hearken to the feeding of the 5,000, or the Last Supper. Actually, it’s probably not a parallel of the 5,000, because there is no multiplication or anything miraculous about this meal. But, Paul does the same thing with the bread that Jesus does elsewhere, and others are similarly encouraged by what he does. If I had to vote, I would say that this is a parallel of the Last Supper. Or, it is like the road to Emmaus passage, where Jesus is seen in the breaking of the bread.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Luke on the New Perspective on Paul | Acts 15:1,8-11


Then certain individuals came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”…
Acts 28.23-31

This is a great summary of the argument for the New Perspective on Paul. The key is the line about Moses. It’s not about works righteousness, but ethnic identity.

And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us; and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us. Now therefore why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? On the contrary, we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”
Acts 15:8-11

Another quick NPP note. Notice here that Peter is not contrasting salvation by yoke versus salvation by grace, but that grace will also save them just as the Jews believed it saved them.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.