Many creationists make the argument that Jesus believed in a literal creation story as told in Genesis. Naturally, if Jesus believed it, why shouldn’t we?
For example, in Mark 10:6 Jesus states:
“But from the beginning of creation, God MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE.”
Therefore, creationists say, there could not have been billions or millions of years of life before humans burst onto the scene. However, this statement ignores the fact that no matter how one reads the text, marriage (which is what this passage is really about) did NOT begin at the beginning of creation. Even if you take the verse out of context, not realizing the passage is talking about marriage, you would have to conclude that Jesus got it wrong. Mankind was not even created at the beginning but on the sixth day (see Genesis 1). Humanity was created later as the pinnacle of the creation. By reading the creation account literally, one comes across a bigger problem–you must either admit that Jesus lied or is very forgetful, according to Mark 10:6.
Furthermore, Mark 10:6 is rarely quoted in context when being used to debate creation. Mark 10:1-10 states the following:
Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them.
Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
“What did Moses command you?” he replied.
They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
“It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”
Jesus is simply explaining the institution of marriage as was commanded to the first two creatures it applied to. The passage has no bearing on the age of creation.
In John 5:45-47, Jesus gives weight to the word of Moses:
“But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”
One of the passages in the words of Moses is Exodus 20:11:
For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Creationists often cite this verse as evidence that clearly Jesus and Moses believed in a literal interpretation of the creation account. This passage instructs the people to keep the Sabbath day holy and not to work on that day. This passage compares the six days of our labor to the six days God used to create. According to creationists, this means that both represent literal 24 hour days.
However, God declared other Sabbaths. A Sabbath for the land consists of six years of cultivation followed by a seventh year of rest (Leviticus 25:2-4). This establishes the principle of six periods of work followed by one period of rest. And in this case, the “days” are not six 24 hour periods. This 6:1 ratio is used in many instances to express important principles, including 6:1 year cycles in Exodus 23:10-11 and Leviticus 25:1-7.
As I have mentioned previously on this blog, it is important when reading the bible to keep in mind the history and cultural influences of the times. The ancient Israelites were in need of establishing an identity for themselves. These people were facing ancient Near East nations that were mostly hostile and polytheistic. The Sabbath principle allowed them to establish their identitiy and develop an efficient work ethic-first in a nomadic situation and then in a land they were charged to establish as their own.
Ironically, most Christians recognize the important principle in Exodus without taking it absolutely literally. Most do not rest or devote the actual Sabbath day (Saturday) to worship. If this passage is meant to be taken literally, we should all be worshipping on Saturday. Yet most Christians truly see the significance of the principle stated above, six periods of work and one period of rest, without following the literal interpretation.
In my opinion, I do not feel that one can conclusively say that Jesus was a “creationist” or believed in a literal interpretation of the Genesis creation account. Certainly he affirmed the supremacy of God the Father and acknowledged the Father as creator, but this says nothing about the manner in which God created the heavens and the earth nor how long it took Him to do so.
Later I plan on commenting on what Paul had to say about creation. Stay tuned!
In the meantime, you may find the following posts interesting:
Death Before the Fall?
Should the creation account be read literally?
You may also be interested in the following blog, Servant’s Thoughts.