Monthly Archives: October 2012

October 28th: “Growing through Worship”

This Week’s Passage:

I. Establish the text

A. Select the Pericope: Luke 19:45-48

C. Other texts for Committed to Christ: Worship

  • Esther 4:15-17

D. Brainstorm: What questions/thoughts come to mind?

I do this early, before researching the passage influences my questions.

45 – – “began to drive out” masks the conflict this must have caused and the rage Jesus must have felt.

46 – – How do we divert our sanctuary from being a place of prayer? When do bake sales, dinners, and other fund-raisers shift the focus of a congregation from worshiping God to working to pay the mortgage and utilities?

47a – – After initiating change, Jesus stayed, deterring the leadership from restoring their old ways.

47b – – How might we respond to an outsider attempting to change how we use our worship space? Would we have them arrested? Sue them for every penny they had?

48 Great worship and teaching draw the crowds needed to maintain an institution.

E. Reconsider where the text begins and ends: What got chopped out?

  • Preceded by the crowd joyfully celebrating Jesus entering Jerusalem and his weeping while prophesying the destruction of the Temple due to the Jews not recognizing Jesus doing a new thing.
  • Followed by the Temple leadership questioning Jesus’ authority to teach.

II. Literary Study.

B. What parallel passages exist? How do they differ? How does this author’s intent differ from other authors? Is the text used elsewhere?

Mark 11:11, 15-19 – Describes Jesus’ actions: overturning tables and preventing bringing merchandise into the temple. This appears as a one time event after which Jesus left the city.

Matt. 21:10-17 – Follows Mark’s account, adding healings, teaching children to sing Hosanna. The Temple leadership note the “wonderful things” but remain indignant.

John 2:13-22 – Explains how Jesus threw out the merchants using a whip and scattering coins. When the leadership demands a sign to validate his authority, Jesus predicted his resurrection.

C. Review syntax/meanings of critical words, phrases, idioms

“began to drive out” – 2 words in Greek. The word for “he began” was also used for “he ruled”. The word for “to drive out” was used for physically throwing out. Hence: CEB – “he started chasing out”; MSG – “he began to throw out”.

D. What is the literary style of the text? And how does it affect the reading? What does a poetic form do to the meaning? Lament/Praise/Petition? Any subtle variations in the repetitions? What is emphasized/minimized by the repetition?

Compared with parallel passages, Luke’s account efficiently captures the scene, keeping the focus on restoration of worship as a daily practice, rather than a one time upheaval.

III. Question the text.

A. Observe the passage from the perspective of its characters.

Jesus boldly restores the focus on community worship.

The leadership would commit murder to restore their usual practice of linking merchandising to Temple practices.

The crowd readily shifts to listening to Jesus.

C. What is the center of gravity of the text? Where was the author heading? What question did the author intend to answer? What is the emotional center of the text? What music would it call for?

  • Center of gravity: Restoring a regular practice of worship preserves the institution.
  • Emotional Center: Casting out old ways requires energy with great risk.

D. Look for conflict: stated or implied.

  • The overt conflict is between the religious leadership and Jesus over the practice of selling animals for sacrifice and having the right coins. The important conflict is between relevant teaching and worship to preserve the institution versus raising funds.

E. Is there anything you wish the author had included in the passage? Why do you think this was not a part of Scripture?

  • Parallel passages amplify what was thrown out and how Jesus did it. Those passages shift the focus from what was gained.

F. How will this text be heard by individuals in the congregation, including the preacher?

  • John’s vivid account of Jesus making a whip and upsetting tables will inform the congregation of Jesus purging the Temple, allowing the preacher to focus on the restoration of teaching.

IV. What do the commentaries have to say about the text?

Fred B. Craddock (Interpretation: Luke. JKP, 1990.) attributes the shortness of Luke’s account of the cleansing of the temple to his positive view of that institution (p 229). Craddock notes that the Temple suffered the same fate as any institution: in providing a place where people could come before God, it was perceived as housing God, thus giving those who minister in the temple more authority than they have the character to handle and confusing the place with God.

R. Alan Culpepper (The New Interpreter’s Bible, “The Gospel of Luke.” Abingdon, 1995.) partitions the text to place the cleansing of the Temple with Jesus weeping over the city which he separated from Jesus’ procession into the city. He notes that the type scene expects the arrival of the king to culminate with the king entering the temple and offering a sacrifice. Luke broke the type regal entrance scene there by using the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE to make a theological point: “they had not recognized ‘the things that make for peace’.” He opines listing tragic events of our day before which Christ must have wept of our failing to recognize the things that make for peace. Culpepper parses verses 47 and 48 as introducing chapters 20 and 21 as a series of Jesus’ teachings in the temple.

V. With respect to the hearers (including the preacher), What does this text want to say and do?

Those times when my sermons were best received,
when parishioners came up and said: “I felt you were preaching directly to me,”
were those times when I was preaching to myself. — Rabbi Chet Diamond

A. What is the theological meaning of the verses?

Jesus upset traditions to reorient the Temple for worshiping God.

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?

How can we keep our worship together focused on God?

October 21st: “Growing with God’s Word”

This Week’s Passage: 2 Timothy 3:14-17

I. Establish the text

C. Other texts for Committed to Christ: Step 2 – Bible Reading

  • Deuteronomy 6:1-9

D. Brainstorm: What questions/thoughts come to mind?

3:14 – – The authority for our learning is from whom we learned it? But these are fallible humans? Or is this an exhortation to teachers to live as examples of what we teach?

15 – – Yet it is Scripture that makes us wise for salvation, and not people.

E. Reconsider where the text begins and ends: What got chopped out?

  • Preceded by contrast of the Pastor’s actions with the actions of those who opposed the truth. The purpose seems to underscore that people are known by their deeds.
  • These four verses in English are one sentence in the original Greek.
  • Passage followed by a statement that the Pastor is soon to meet his end, then greetings to various friends.

F. Are there any significant variants in the manuscripts? Why?

  • 16 – This sentence is ambiguous in the Greek. Is it: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful …” or is it: “every document God breathed and useful …”? If verses 14-17 are considered as one long sentence, then “God-breathed writings” is a synonym for sacred writings.

II. Literary Study.

A. What is the history of the text? Who wrote it? When? In what social context? What Historical/Religious/Sociological factors influenced its writing?

Probably written pseudonymously by a follower of Paul. The original recipient would have understood it to have been written by someone other than Paul. The author is widely referred to as “the Pastor” as much of his issues are pastoral and pertain to establishing church polity. Perhaps one of Paul’s correspondents or close friends cut and pasted this letter from several of his writings.

D. What is the literary style of the text? And how does it affect the reading? What does a poetic form do to the meaning? Lament/Praise/Petition? Any subtle variations in the repetitions? What is emphasized/minimized by the repetition?

This is rhetoric! Thus its severity should be considered as stylistic rather than prescriptive.

III. Question the text.

C. What is the center of gravity of the text? Where was the author heading? What question did the author intend to answer? What is the emotional center of the text? What music would it call for?

  • Center of gravity: Recognize sound doctrine and be willing to be challenged by it, then go about the work of Christ bringing the good news in all situations.

D. Look for conflict: stated or implied.

  • God-breathed writings are good news yet not as easy on the ear as myths.

F. How will this text be heard by individuals in the congregation, including the preacher?

  • 3:14-17 becomes easy to hear because someone else has already authenticated Scripture and we no longer have to figure out which documents are “God-breathed and useful for teaching …” Imagine having the task of authenticating the presence of the Holy Spirit in this letter!

IV. What do the commentaries have to say about the text?

Luke Timothy Johnson (Knox Preaching Guides: 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus) puts this pericope into one section starting at 2:14. This larger section is a polemic arguing against the philosophical teachers of the 1st century and for the values of Paul’s teachings, suffering, and especially for Scripture. He connects this with 20th century life holding up Scripture as the arbiter of values against human desire to value being pleasant and tolerant. At the same time, he demonstrates that this pericope does not argue for a closed cannon. The only sacred writings, God-breathed that Paul knew was the Torah. So if we can include Paul’s letters, we might also include inspiring words first penned in our century as having heard the word of God.

W. Eugene March (The Presbyterian Outlook, “Follow a good Mentor”. Feb. 6, 2006.) encourages readers to meet the challenge of disbelief by sticking to trusted teachers and mentors of faith. “New teachings should be examined in light of what has been received from those faithful guides” and from Scripture. “It is difficult to overstress the importance of regular, ongoing study of the Bible in the company of trusted teachers.” Although surveys of church programs frequently request Bible studies, only a small fraction of adults participate.

V. With respect to the hearers (including the preacher), What does this text want to say and do?

Those times when my sermons were best received,
when parishioners came up and said: “I felt you were preaching directly to me,”
were those times when I was preaching to myself. — Rabbi Chet Diamond

A. What is the theological meaning of the verses?

Studying Holy Scripture with competent teachers equips the faithful for every eventuality.

B. Focus Statement: Central, controlling, unifying theme.

“Continue as you have learned” using all of the God-Breathed writings.

October 14th: “Growing through Prayer”

This Week’s Passage: Luke 6:12-19

I. Establish the text

C. Other texts for Committed to Christ, Step 1: Prayer

  • Judges 4:23-5:3

D. Brainstorm: What questions/thoughts come to mind?

12 Why would Jesus need to spend a night in prayer?

13-16 Up to this point Jesus has many followers, but here he chooses 12 from among them.

17-19 Three groups surround Jesus: the 12, the disciples, and the crowd. All trying to touch him.

E. Reconsider where the text begins and ends: What got chopped out?

  • This is the introduction to the Sermon on the Plain; a pericope ignored by the RCL.

II. Literary Study.

B. What parallel passages exist? How do they differ? How does this author’s intent differ from other authors? Is the text used elsewhere?

Matthew 5:1-2 – Locates this teaching from atop a mountain.

Mark 3:13-19 – locates the commissioning of the twelve atop a mountain. Followed by a different teaching.

Luke 6:12-19 – Uniquely notes Jesus spending the preceding night in prayer.

C. Review syntax/meanings of critical words, phrases, idioms

Apostle — Derived from the Greek verb meaning “to send”, in secular usage this noun described a ship, fleet, navy, or navy commander, but rarely an individual. An apostle represents the sender and carries the sender’s authority.

III. Question the text.

C. What is the center of gravity of the text? Where was the author heading? What question did the author intend to answer? What is the emotional center of the text? What music would it call for?

  • Center of gravity: Before choosing the twelve and teaching the multitude, Jesus, the Son of God incarnate, spent the evening in prayer.

D. Look for conflict: stated or implied.

  • The crowd buzzed around Jesus, trying to touch him and receive the power flowing out of him so they would be healed.

F. How will this text be heard by individuals in the congregation, including the preacher?

  • That Jesus spent the night in prayer before naming the Twelve merits special emphasis.

IV. What do the commentaries have to say about the text?

Fred B. Craddock (Interpretation: Luke. JKP, 1990.) notes that Luke of all of the Gospel writers, was the most attentive to prayer guiding Jesus’ ministry.

Alan R. Culpepper (The New Interpreter’s Bible, “The Gospel of Luke”. Abingdon, 1995.) interprets the placement of the calling of the Twelve as marking a succession from the old to the new leadership. He also notes that this is one of two occasions that Luke recorded when Jesus spent the night in prayer; the other preceded his transfiguration.

V. With respect to the hearers (including the preacher), What does this text want to say and do?

Those times when my sermons were best received,
when parishioners came up and said: “I felt you were preaching directly to me,”
were those times when I was preaching to myself. — Rabbi Chet Diamond

A. What is the theological meaning of the verses?

Jesus prepared for significant events by spending significant time in prayer prior to the event.

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?

How might significant time in prayer improve significant events in my life?