James reminded his readers that scripture said that God is jealous. He wants his spirit to be in them. He will give more grace. He opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. They should submit to God. At the same time, they should resist the devil, so that he would flee from them. If you draw near to God, he will draw near to you. As double-minded sinners, they should cleanse their hands and purify their hearts by lamenting, mourning, and weeping. Their laughter and joy should be turned into mourning. They need to humble themselves before the Lord. Then he will exalt them. Do you let God’s grace work in you?
“Grace be with all
Who have an undying love
For our Lord
ἡ χάρις μετὰ πάντων τῶν ἀγαπώντων τὸν Κύριον ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν ἐν ἀφθαρσίᾳ.
Paul said, “Grace be with all (ἡ χάρις μετὰ πάντων) who have an undying (ἐν ἀφθαρσίᾳ) love (τῶν ἀγαπώντων) for our Lord (τὸν Κύριον) Jesus Christ (Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν).” Only the Pauline letters had this word ἀφθαρσίᾳ, that means incorruptibility, indestructibility, or immortality. Finally, Paul said that grace or God’s gifts should be with them in Ephesus. He realized that they had an incorruptible, indestructible, or immortal love of Jesus Christ. This love of Christ would bring them many graces. What kind of love do you have for Jesus Christ?
“But if it is by grace,
It is no longer
On the basis of works.
Would no longer be grace.”
εἰ δὲ χάριτι, οὐκέτι ἐξ ἔργων, ἐπεὶ ἡ χάρις οὐκέτι γίνεται χάρις.
Paul said that if this happens by grace (εἰ δὲ χάριτι), it is no longer on the basis of works (οὐκέτι ἐξ ἔργων). Otherwise grace would no longer be grace (ἐπεὶ ἡ χάρις οὐκέτι γίνεται χάρις). Paul insisted that grace was a gift, not something earned by good works. How can it be a freely granted gift of grace if you had to do some works to earn it? Do you accept grace as a gift?
“The seventy disciples
Returned with joy,
Even the demons
Submit to us
In your name!’”
Ὑπέστρεψαν δὲ οἱ ἑβδομήκοντα μετὰ χαρᾶς λέγοντες Κύριε, καὶ τὰ δαιμόνια ὑποτάσσεται ἡμῖν ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί σου.
Luke uniquely said that the seventy disciples returned (Ὑπέστρεψαν δὲ οἱ ἑβδομήκοντα) with joy or grace (μετὰ χαρᾶς). They said to Jesus, calling him Lord (λέγοντες Κύριε), the demons (καὶ τὰ δαιμόνια) had submitted to them (ὑποτάσσεται ἡμῖν) in Jesus’ name (ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί σου). Only Luke had anything to say about these 70 disciples. Like the 12 apostles when they returned, these disciples were happy. They pointed out to Jesus that even the evil spirit demons were submitting to them when they mentioned Jesus’ name. Thus, the power of Jesus would continue. These apostles and disciples would carry on his work. Do you think that today’s disciples of Jesus can make evil spirits submit to them?
Καὶ Ἰησοῦς προέκοπτεν ἐν τῇ σοφίᾳ καὶ ἡλικίᾳ καὶ χάριτι παρὰ Θεῷ καὶ ἀνθρώποις.
Luke said that Jesus increased or progressed (Καὶ Ἰησοῦς προέκοπτεν) in wisdom (ἐν τῇ σοφίᾳ) and maturity (καὶ ἡλικίᾳ). He also increased in grace or favor before God and men (καὶ χάριτι παρὰ Θεῷ καὶ ἀνθρώποις). In other words, Jesus matured as a human person, just as he done earlier in verse 40, and John had done in chapter 1:80. This also had happened to the prophet Samuel in 1 Samuel, chapter 2:26. Matthew, in his infancy story, chapters 1-2, never mentioned any growth or increase on the part of the infant child. Jesus truly was divine and human at the same time. In both his divine and human nature, Jesus grew or matured.
“The child grew.
He became strong.
Filled with wisdom.
The grace of God
Was upon him.”
Τὸ δὲ παιδίον ηὔξανεν καὶ ἐκραταιοῦτο πληρούμενον σοφίᾳ, καὶ χάρις Θεοῦ ἦν ἐπ’ αὐτό.
Interesting enough, Luke has Jesus grow in wisdom in the same way that John had done earlier in chapter 1:80. Growth implies movement from an inferior stage to a higher stage. Clearly, this was an important part of showing the human side of Jesus. Luke said that the child Jesus grew (Τὸ δὲ παιδίον ηὔξανεν). He became a strong person (καὶ ἐκραταιοῦτο), filled with wisdom (πληρούμενον σοφίᾳ), because the grace or favor of God (καὶ χάρις Θεοῦ) was upon him (ἦν ἐπ’ αὐτό). This also implies that God the Father favored or graced him, showing the distinction between God the Father and God the Son. Jesus was a special child.
Said to her.
‘Do not be afraid!
You have found
καὶ εἶπεν ὁ ἄγγελος αὐτῇ Μὴ φοβοῦ, Μαριάμ· εὗρες γὰρ χάριν παρὰ τῷ Θεῷ·
Luke, as in Matthew, said that the angel Gabriel was reassuring Mary, just as the angel had reassured Joseph. Gabriel told her (καὶ εἶπεν ὁ ἄγγελος αὐτῇ), Mary, not to be afraid (Μὴ φοβοῦ, Μαριάμ) because she had found favor or grace with God (εὗρες γὰρ χάριν παρὰ τῷ Θεῷ). Everything was going to be okay.
“You will have
At his birth.”
καὶ ἔσται χαρά σοι καὶ ἀγαλλίασις, καὶ πολλοὶ ἐπὶ τῇ γενέσει αὐτοῦ χαρήσονται
Luke had the angel state the obvious. Zechariah would have joy and gladness (καὶ ἔσται χαρά σοι καὶ ἀγαλλίασις). The Greek word χαρά for joy can also mean grace. Many people would rejoice at this birth of John (καὶ πολλοὶ ἐπὶ τῇ γενέσει αὐτοῦ χαρήσονται). This would be a happy graced moment for him and many others. The birth of a child in any family is very happy moment.
They left the tomb
And great joy.
καὶ ἀπελθοῦσαι ταχὺ ἀπὸ τοῦ μνημείου μετὰ φόβου καὶ χαρᾶς μεγάλης ἔδραμον ἀπαγγεῖλαι τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ.
This text is similar to Mark, chapter 16:8-10, but there the whole question of the short and long ending of Mark comes up. In verse 8, the scared women do not tell anyone, then in verse 9, they told Peter and his friends, and then in verse 10, Mary Magdalene told those who had been mourning his death. Luke, chapter 24:10, had Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary, the mother of James, and the other women tell the apostles about the resurrection. John, chapter 20:2, had only Mary Magdalene tell Peter and the other beloved disciple about Jesus’ resurrection. Clearly Mary Magdalene was involved in these incidents at the tomb. Here Matthew said that these women, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, left the tomb quickly (καὶ ἀπελθοῦσαι ταχὺ ἀπὸ τοῦ μνημείου) with both fear and grace or great joy (μετὰ φόβου καὶ χαρᾶς μεγάλης). They ran to tell the disciples of Jesus what had happened to him (ἔδραμον ἀπαγγεῖλαι τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ). Thus, the resurrection of Jesus became common knowledge to the male disciples of Jesus via these women, Mary Magdalene in particular.
The inclusive model holds that Jesus Christ is the normative expression of God’s will for all people. The problem is that many people have never known Christ. What role has the God of love for them? Is Christian faith offered to everyone? Some Christians believe in predestination so that only a few are chosen. Christianity has always been missionary, sometimes overly zealous, as in the Crusades and the Inquisition. What about those who have never heard of Jesus Christ? The Catholic Council of Trent (1545-1563) in the 16th century talked about a baptism of desire. You will be saved by Jesus without knowing him. Salvation is fully found in Jesus, but offered to everyone in all genuine religions who live the good life, who sincerely seek God, moved by grace, and strive by their deeds to do his will as they know it. Sometimes we call them like Karl Rahner (1904-1984) “anonymous Christians.”