Tag Archives: John

May 20th: “Belonging to Christ”

If we desire to have God answer our prayers for ourselves and our neighbors, we must listen to Jesus’ prayer for his disciples, preparing them/us for trials in the world.

If these exegetical notes are useful, I would appreciate your encouragement. Please comment on this page, send me a note, or share the link on your favorite social media. — Robert Shaw

This Week’s Passage: Gospel John 17:6-19

I. Establish the text

C. Other texts for Year B for 7thSunday in Easter

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

9-10 Jesus prays for the disciples even before they know they need prayer.

11-15 Prayer for protection. How does spiritual oneness protect us today?

16-19 Disciples set apart from the world for conveying God’s word.

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

  • The lectionary divides this prayer into three parts, each on the seventh Sunday of Easter in successive years.
  • This prayer concludes Jesus’ final meal with his disciples that included the foot washing and handing a dipped piece of bread to Judas.
  • It is followed by Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion.
  • Worship attendees will need to know the context of this prayer.

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?

  • The Synoptic Gospels (Mark 14:32-42, Matthew 26:-46, Luke 22:40-46) Places this prayer at Gethsemane or the Mount of Olives and shows Jesus as anguished and reluctantly accepting the Father’s will. He mandates those with him to pray that they not come into a time of trial.

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

/didomi/ “given” appears 17 times in this chapter: 13 times the Father gives to Jesus, 4 times Jesus gives to people.

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?

  • Prayer by Jesus about himself and his disciples in their presence.

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?

  • Jesus requested that God the Father protect the disciples that entrusted to Jesus and provide them unity in the world.

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

  • Fred Craddock encourages the preacher to demonstrate by example, even naming those present, what it feels like to be prayed for by Christ.

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

Fred B. Craddock (Knox Preaching Guides: John, John Knox Press, 1982), citing Deuteronomy, Psalms, and Romans, contends that Scripture does not make a sharp distinction between addresses to people (sermons) and addresses to God (prayer) and neither should preachers. “Good preaching is not solely to the people; good preaching is also in behalf of the people.”

Gerard Sloyan (Interpretation: John, John Knox Press, 1988): “The prayer is, in the last analysis, a plea for unity among believers. … If the disciples are at on in this fashion, this should provide a motive for the world’s belief.”

Gail R. O’Day (The New Interpreter’s Bible, Abingdon, 1995) perceives this prayer as concluding Jesus’ farewell meal. She reminds interpreters that in this prayer, Jesus had stopped talking with/to the disciples (or to the larger faith community), and talked directly to God. By overhearing this prayer readers glimpse life with God.

Brian Stoffregen (Ecunet.org/Sermonshop, May 09, 1999) “”Where I am they also might be with me,” refers more to the relationship with the Father than being at a particular place. Do we have to go to heaven to see Jesus’ glory, or, can we see it here and now by faith and through our relationship with the Father, in “his hour” and his completion of the work God had given him to do (v. 4)?”

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 prays for his disciples that the Father would protect them from the world and grant them oneness for their mission in the world.

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?

If we desire to have God answer our prayers for ourselves and our neighbors, we must listen to Jesus’ prayer for his disciples, preparing them/us for trials in the world.

May 13th: Women of the Church Sunday “Communion as Love”

Christ’s commands us to love one another, even to the point of dying for one another.

This Week’s Passage: John 15:9-17

I. Establish the text

C. Other texts for Year B for 6thSunday in Easter

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

9 Like a parental tradition: Dad did it for me. I did it for you. You do it also.

10 Like parental advice that a child stay within the rules to keep the child from suffering the ill effects of when the rules are violated.

11 Not for the sake of the parent are the rules laid down, but for the sake of the child’s joy.

12 This is the summary of the second table of the law. It fully summarizes all of human law.

13 Supreme sacrifice v. the reserved sacrifice of Navy colleagues who regretted the risk they were taking for their country, do it only for their parent’s sake.

14 Danger is to assume if-then-else theology. The else is not mentioned.

15 Unlike a servant who only has orders, friends know the big picture. C.f. story of crews digging hole after hole in a street only to fill them up again. By mid afternoon they were beginning to become disgruntled. But when they found out that the city had lost the maps of the sewer system, they were able to continue their task with renewed energy.

16 The Church is not a voluntary organization! The church is a group of people called by God to do his work in this time and in this place, especially to make disciples of all people and to love one another.

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

    • This is the central portion of a longer teaching. It follows a section that relates the listeners as branches of Christ. A section that prophesies how followers of Christ will be hated for their faith follows this section. In this context, the larger teaching is a command to love one-another in the face of death, to martyrdom.

II. Literary Study.

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

10 /ean … thrhwshte/ (Aorist Active 2nd person Plural Subjunctive) ‘if you all would watch over’ or ‘if you would guard.’ Usually translated as ‘if you keep.’ Often understood as ‘if you obey.’ If-then or rule-based theology is easy. Meet the requirements and you get in otherwise you don’t. But guarding over the commandments may be harder. Guarding would necessitate that they continue to be relevant for future generations.

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?

      • Cenger of Gravity: This is a commandment to emulate Christ, loving one another, even to the point of dying for one another.

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

    • The commandment to love one another will be readily heard absent of the expected depth and cost of that love. Becoming a church member costs nothing. Becoming a Christian costs everything! The human ear will readily isolate the cost of abiding in love to Christ, who paid it all. Yet, true discipleship demands that followers of Christ love even to the point of being labeled radicals. Giving to the church is a radical expression of the foolishness of being a Christian.

May 6th: “Incorporation”

When we remain in Christ, we bear much fruit, for God removes both branches that bear no fruit and those that would drain energy from God’s mission.

This Week’s Passage: John 15:1-8

I. Establish the text

C. Other texts for Year B for 5thSunday in Easter

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

1 God prunes the branches, not Christ, and certainly not other branches! The church is not tasked with discerning which branches to lop off.

2 The branches that bear no fruit get lopped off, the branches that bear fruit get pruned. What is the difference? In each case the branches are removed? But the vine improves all the more, producing even more fruit unburdened by the non-producing branches and strengthened by the new growth.

3 The vine dresser has already cleaned us for God’s work.

4 – 5 Just as a vine needs the root, so we need to remain attached to Christ.

6 But unlike a physical vine, we can opt to remain attached or to separate from the vine.

7 – 8 By opting to remain in the vine, we benefit from its sap and do not wither but produce much fruit to the glory of the unseen roots.

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

  • This passage is part of Jesus’ teaching to his disciples anticipating his death.
  • It is followed by a similar teaching commending the disciples to stay in God’s love so they would bear much fruit.

II. Literary Study.

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

  • /kaqairw/ traditionally translated as “prune” or “cleanse” is a compound verb /kaqa/ and /airw/ literally to “thoroughly remove.” O’Day, citing Beasley-Murray, recommends “cut off” or “cut clean.”

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?

  • Simile, metaphor, figure. People are not physically grafted into a vine. Unlike a physical vine, people can remove themselves from the vine, and might not notice any loss of function.

III. Question the text.

B. Are there any unusual details? Un-named characters? ‘Pointless’ description? Meanings of names of characters? What does a literal meaning of natural metaphors imply?

Pruning seems to be a difficult and hurtful task from a human point of view. But plants need pruning so they do not waste their energy doing useless tasks. Pruning is the essence for having and using a mission statement.

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: Remain in Christ for a fruitful life.
  • Emotional Center: God dresses the vine, removing dead and fruitless branches, and thinning buds from living branches so they will bear the most fruit.
  • Music: “The Church Is One Foundation”

D. Look for conflict: stated or implied.

  • We are instructed to remain in the vine, yet those that do not bear fruit will be lopped off and those that do bear fruit will also be pruned. James Price in “Jesus the True Vine” The Presbyterian Outlook, April 19-26 suggests that “pruned” may also be translated as “cleansed” since the adjective with the same root in v. 3 is translated a “clean.” The vinedresser removes/cleanses extra buds from a branch so that selected remaining buds bear much fruit. So too are believers cleansed from wasting their energy in matters that do not give glory to the Triune God.

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

Fred B. Craddock (Knox Preaching Guides: John. John Knox Press, 1982.) while noting other possible partitions, considers verses 1-11 as a unit. He concludes: “Churches that move through hardship to inclreased devotion to the mission have, indeed, been pruned. Those that pull back in fear and resentment with attention only to their own comfort and safety have, indeed, been taken away.”

Gail R. O’Day (The New Interpreter’s Bible, “The Gospel of John.” Abingdon, 1995.) considers verses 1-17 as one unit, while noting that many consider verses 1-6 as an independent figure and the following as its interpretation. O’Day, concurring with C. H. Dodd, considers the word pictures used by the Fourth Evangelist inseparable from the theology he is communicating. She discerns Jesus’ use of the figure to reveal his position of the vine as connecting the gardener to the branches, and that all three are essential to the production of fruit. She reflects that “there are no free-standing individuals in community,” individuals rooted in Jesus give up their status as individuals to become a branch, and that “there is only one gift, to bear fruit, and any branch can do that if it remains with Jesus.

Carol Baldwin (Woman’s Devotional Bible. Zondervan, 1990.) abuses this text by removing verse 3 and confusing misfortune with divine pruning.

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?

  • When we remain in Christ, we bear much fruit, for God removes both branches that bear no fruit and those that would drain energy from God’s mission.

Celebrating the Lord’s Supper in Easter 2012

Bread and cup“Teach the congregation about the depth of meaning in the Lord’s Supper, not just with words, but also with how we celebrate Communion,” the Elders on Session challenged. In addition to serving communion every Sunday in Easter, they wanted more. Thus we are now scheduled serve communion eleven times in ten weeks (including Maundy Thursday and the first Sundays of April and June).

Worship Plans for Easter 2012

These worship plans are tentative and subject to revision. Suggestions will be carefully considered.

Date

Theme

Implementation

April 1
Passion Sunday
Isaiah 50:4-9a – Christ: God’s Forgiveness
Remembrance of God’s grace, Christ’s sacrifice, and work of the Spirit.
Communion as Atonement
Small cups & wafers served to participants in pews
Christ’s Body given & Blood shed for us.
April 5
Maundy Thursday
Sin as slavery; Orderly plan of freedom.
Institution of the Lord’s Supper
Passover Meal: Unleavened bread, wine
April 8
Resurrection
Mark 16:1-8 – You are looking for Jesus
Gift of God through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit
High formality. Sung responses.
Child delivers elements gift wrapped.
Participants come forward to receive bread and small cups.
April 15
Easter 2
Acts 4:32-35 – Everything in Common
Reconciling community
Sit in a circle, minister to one another.
Intinction with one loaf
April 22
Easter 3
Youth Group skit
The resurrection has implications today.
Youth serve with modernized setting: Bread sticks in a pizza box, Grape Kool-Aid in plastic cups
April 29
Easter 4
John 10:11-18 – Good Shepherd
Eucharist is our great sacrifice of praise to God.
Each family presents a slice of bread during the offering. Those slices are shared during communion.
May 6
Easter 5
John 15:1-8 – On Christ’s Vine
Incorporation
One loaf divided and shared with cups in pews. Elder and Deacons immediately leave worship to offer communion to those unable to attend.
May 13
Easter 6
John 15:9-17 – Love one another
Spirit filled symbol of God’s Love
Women of the Church
Heart shaped pieces of bread
May 20
Easter 7
John 17:6-19 – Christ glorified in disciples
Sanctification
Wedding Feast: Invitations sent with a “robe”
Wedding runner & Unity Candle
Table filled with food: Fish, milk, wine, honey, salt, …, braided bread.
May 27
Pentecost
Acts 2:1-21 – God pours out the Holy Spirit
Confirmation
Give all members a red stole
Confirmands get white stoles
Give red stoles after confirmation
June 3
Trinity Sunday
John 3:1-17 – Born of water and spirit.
Rebirth
Flour and oil dedicated as a sin offering after assurance of pardon. Children shape flour into pastry and bake it during sermon to be served for communion.

Other Notes:

  1. Commend using the unison prayer after communion as a prayer before meals.
  2. Add explanatory notices in bulletin beginning in Lent, March Newsletter, and email March 21 – May 23.
  3. Families invited to bring bread for one of Sunday.

September 11th: “Peace”

I. Establish the text

A. Select the Pericope: John 20:19-23

B. Establish translation: Review NIV, NRSV, TEV, BHS/NA26, …

C. Other texts for Sunday September 11th, 2011

  • Exo 14:19-31

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

19 From whom do we have fear of now that we must keep our doors locked?
Is the doors being locked a metaphor for the minds of the disciples being shut to the possibility of Jesus rising from the grave? Mary just announced it to them!

20 The other 10, had also seen Jesus’ hands and feet.

21a Repetition of blessing after the disciples recognized Jesus and rejoiced.

21b Christians are sent!!! A different verb is used for Christ being sent vs. disciples being sent. The difference is demonstrated when the other disciples try to tell Thomas about the resurrection versus Jesus showing Thomas the resurrection.

22 Christ breathes the Holy Spirit upon us, yet we still have to receive it. N.B. parallel with God breathing a breath into Adam in Gen 2. In Gen 2, Adam had no choice but to receive the breath. In John 20, the disciples are commanded to receive the breath. It is up to the disciples to choose whether or not to receive it.

23 What an awesome responsibility! Forgiving sins and retaining sins. While our actions of forgiving/holding is in the future/present (present tense verb), the Jesus’ has completed this in the past (perfect tense verb).

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

This is part II of the Easter Sunday story. Mary had seen Jesus that morning.

The next chapter is another appearance story containing the testing of Peter and the call to John.

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?

  • Last Gospel written, about AD 95, after expulsion of Christians from Jewish synagogues. Hence, v 19 “for fear of the Jews” even though the disciples were all Jews. Written as a spiritual/philosophical rather than factual/with parables exposition, by the “beloved disciple.” It has the purpose of shifting the reader from learning about Christ to telling about Christ. John lacks a prophecy of the Second Coming, substituting the presence of the Paraclete. Hence, v 22 “he breathed on them and says to them receive the Holy Spirit/Breath.” Is this John’s version of Pentecost?

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

  • Luke records a parallel scene after the revelation on the road to Emmaus. These two ran back to Jerusalem and found the eleven gathered in the upper room. Jesus came and stood among them. They were troubled and thought they saw a ghost. Jesus showed them his hands and feet and offers to allow them to “handle” him and he eats with them.
    Luke allows us to see more of the Apostles feelings of fear of seeing Jesus. In John they are awe-struck in wonder and amazement and disbelief.
  • Attested to in 1 Cor 15:5 and Acts 10:41-44.

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

  • 19 How does Jesus enter the room? Does that matter? Since they had to see Jesus’ hands and side, presumably he had entered in an ordinary manner. Could the verb for “he came” include the meaning “he entered?” For example the phrase he came to church presumes entrance in the normal way. Why not here?
  • 21 Christ is sent differently than how he sends us. A few variants use the same verb in both locations. G. Sloyan (Interpretation: John) notes that elsewhere the terms are used interchangeably. But the TNDT notes: the verb used for Christ’s stresses “to send forth,” differing from the verb used for disciples, which stresses the fact of sending, by its relating of sender and sent and its consequent implication of a commission, especially in Hellenistic Greek. Subsequent discussion in TNDT notes both the interchangeability and a difference which links the verb linked to Christ more closely with commissioning or sending forth. Thus the disciples’ sending is subordinate to Jesus’ commissioning by the Father.
  • 22. “Jesus breathed on them and says to them receive the Holy Spirit.” The noun used for Holy Spirit (/pneuma/) is used widely for breath and for wind as well as for spirit. But there is also a word for natural wind and a verb related to /pneuma/ that could have been used to make the distinction between breathing and Spirit less clear.

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?

  • Prose. Functions as a factual account of what happened.

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?

  • Christ is present in the sending of the apostles (and all those who believe yet have not seen).

D. Look for conflict: stated or implied.

  • Jesus expects Thomas to believe having heard, rather than demanding seeing.

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

  • This is easy to read as a past event, without present consequences.

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

Gail R. O’Day (The New Interpreter’s Bible, “The Gospel of John”) notes difficulties in translating v. 23. She notes that the Council of Trent relied on this verse to defend the sacrament of penance and to differentiate rituals of repentance from baptism. She asserts that forgiveness of sins is the work of the entire community. She notes parallels with 3:19-21, 8:21-24, 9:39-41, and 15:22-24, which in turn shed light on understanding that the retention of sin is a function of sinner and not by the community.

G. Sloyan (Interpretation: John) reminds the preacher that belief is a gift of God. John would associate the failure to believe with an absence of grace from God. “By the Spirit’s power Jesus is making his disciples corporately remitters of sin. Failure to receive such remission will come only when this is the sinners’ choice.”

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?

Christ bursts through locked doors to send believers to be the Church with the authority of the Holy Spirit, in spite of human doubts.

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

Despite our doubts that keep us from believing that Christ lives, the risen Christ assures us of Divine presence as we are sent out with the Holy Spirit to forgive sins.

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?

Recognize that we too have been sent by Christ to forgive sins.

July 10th: “sharing the Gospel with the community in word and deed”

This week, as on the last three weeks, the sermon will consider one of the four facets of the congregation’s vision statement. The notes below lift up exemplifying passages from the Bible and the Book of Confessions.

Exemplifying Scripture

Jeremiah 3:12-15

Matthew 13:1-9 & 18-23

Matthew 28:19-20 – Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’

Mark 16:15 – Go into all the world, and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.

John 20:21 – Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’

Acts 16:25-34

The Westminster Confession of Faith:

6.055 1. God in infinite and perfect love, having provided in the covenant of grace, through the mediation and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, a way of life and salvation, sufficient for and adapted to the whole lost race of man, doth freely offer this salvation to all men in the gospel.(1)

6.056 2. In the gospel God declares his love for the world and his desire that all men should be saved; reveals fully and clearly the only way of salvation; promises eternal life to all who truly repent and believe in Christ; invites and commands all to embrace the offered mercy; and by his Spirit accompanying the Word pleads with men to accept his gracious invitation.(2)

6.057 3. It is the duty and privilege of everyone who hears the gospel immediately to accept its merciful provisions; and they who continue in impenitence and unbelief incur aggravated guilt and perish by their own fault.(3)

6.058 4. Since there is no other way of salvation than that revealed in the gospel, and since in the divinely established and ordinary method of grace faith cometh by hearing the Word of God, Christ hath commissioned his Church to go into all the world and to make disciples of all nations. All believers are, therefore, under obligation to sustain the ordinances of the Christian religion where they are already established, and to contribute by their prayers, gifts, and personal efforts to the extension of the Kingdom of Christ throughout the whole earth.(4)

The Confession of 1967:

9.37 The church disperses to serve God wherever its members are, at work or play, in private or in the life of society. Their prayer and Bible study are part of the church’s worship and theological reflection. Their witness is the church’s evangelism. Their daily action in the world is the church in mission to the world. The quality of their relation with other persons is the measure of the church’s fidelity.

June 26th: “nurturing disciples through connecting and energizing the people of God”

This week, last week, and the next two weeks, the sermon will consider one of the four facets of the congregation’s vision statement. The notes below lift up exemplifying passages from the Bible and the Book of Confessions.

Exemplifying Scripture

Deuteronomy 6:1-9

John 21:15-19

Luke 8:4-8a – When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: ‘A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.’

Romans 1:11-12 – For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.

Hebrews 10:24-25 – Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Philemon 1:4-7

The Confession of 1967:

9.24 The new life finds its direction in the life of Jesus, his deeds and words, his struggles against temptation, his compassion, his anger, and his willingness to suffer death. The teaching of apostles and prophets guides men in living this life, and the Christian community nurtures and equips them for their ministries.

May 22nd: “The Big House”

I. Establish the text

A. Select the Pericope: John 14:1-14

C. Other texts for Year A for 5th Sunday in Easter

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

1. Why are we not to be troubled? In preceding passage, Jesus has just announced “Where I am going you cannot come/follow me.”

2. A place to go home to!

3. Jesus went to heaven ahead of us so that we may follow.

4. We know the way with our hearts not with our feet. The way is to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.

5. Thomas is looking for the material rather than the spiritual. Similarly to Luke 24, where Thomas wanted to touch Jesus.

6. Jesus is the gatekeeper. However the text does not say that Jesus only lets believers in according to our criteria for belief in Christ, but rather based on God’s criteria.

7. In seeing and coming to know Jesus we have seen and have come to know the Father. But seeing the Father won’t we die (c.f. Moses on Sinai). Yes we do die. We are dead to sin and alive to all that is good.

8. Philip requires physical proof.

9. Repetition of seeing Jesus = seeing God.

10. Third repetition. This time Father is indwelling of Christ.

11. Believing because of what Jesus has done in their presence is better than not believing.

12. Great works are the fruits of belief.

13. Christological statement!

14. Hence, prayers end: … this we ask in Jesus’ name. Has that phrase become to lightly used?

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

  • This is part of the Last Supper discourse which begins with chapter 13 and continues at through all of 14 and perhaps also 15, 16, and 17. This passage is at least a good sample of the issues at hand if not the kernel.
  • Follows foot washing, breaking of the bread, and exit of Judas. Jesus has just announced to the eleven that he is leaving and that they may not follow, at least initially.
  • Followed by announcement of the coming of the Holy Spirit. Chapter 14 ends with: “Rise, and let us be on our way.” But Chapters 15 and 16 contain similar last minute instructions, and Chapter 17 contains Jesus’ blessing for the eleven, and finally Chapter 18 begins “After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples …”

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

7. The tense of ginwskw (to know) appears in the first instance may be either perfect, or pluperfect. More variants favor the pluperfect (had known), however the older variants favor the perfect (have known). Many of the variants using the pluperfect for the first instance also use it in the second instance instead of the future tense (will know). The difference between the perfect and pluperfect might be difficult to hear if the scribe were taking dictation.
ginwskw also used for ‘to discern’. Thus if the sentence is considered in response to Thomas, then it might be interpreted: Thomas, if you had recognized who I am, then you would have also known the Father. However if Jesus is speaking to all disciples (the 12 and us), then the perfect and future tenses are appropriate.

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?

  • This is the last Gospel written. Attributed to John, one of the 12. More probably written based on stories collected by the community where John lived. Hence the apparent concluding remark in chapter 14. This community lived after the death of many of the disciples and were very concerned about the promise of the after life and the concern about how they would know Jesus having not seen him personally.

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

  • This foreshadows the doubt of Thomas in John 20.

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

V. 1. pisteuete present active imperative 2nd person plural. Both instances are commands. Often translated as ‘to believe’, but ‘to trust’ and ‘to commit to the power of’ are other usages.

V. 2 oijkiva vs monai The father’s house is a permanent structure, but the rooms/inns are temporary resting/waiting places.

V. 6. Egw Eimi = I Myself Am. Redundant form in Greek. Reminiscent of Name of God given to Moses in the LXX of Exodus.

h odos the way/course/direction.

h zwh the life. Synonyms: bios yuch *Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible*: zwh and bios should be differentiated as health/existence and conduct of life. zwh Almost always preceded by eternal/everlasting/immortal or used with similar contexts. Usage yuch suggests breath and pulse or bodily function.
How does LXX translate nephesh?

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 a didactic conversation. The disciples ask questions and Jesus responds.
  • There are at five explanations of Jesus being related to the Father: 1 – know me = know Father. 2 – see me = see Father. 3 – I am in the Father and the Father is in me. 4 – My words are the Father’s words. 5 – glorifying the son = glorifying the Father.

III. Question the text.

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

In the preceding verses, Peter is told he cannot go where Jesus is going yet. Now Thomas and Philip question Jesus about where he is going. They seem perplexed about Jesus going to heaven. Are they looking for a Messianic conqueror? Are they having difficult time perceiving Jesus, whom they have lived with, eaten with, slept with, and traveled with, as part of God?

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: John is trying to explain the difficult concept of how that Jesus and the Father are one and yet that Jesus can go to the Father. There is a clear conflict between Thomas and Philip who knew Jesus as a real person and their perception of Jesus as part of God. The PC(USA) Brief Statement of Faith says: “Fully God, fully human.” The Westminster Confession of Faith VIII.2: “Which person is very God and very [human], yet one Christ …”

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

Gail O’Day (NIB) notes a shift in verse 4 that Thomas misses. Jesus says “you know the way.” This is finally clarified in verse 7 with “I am the way.” Thomas is thinking geographically, Jesus means relationally.

Fred Craddock (Knox Preaching Guides: John) suggests that the preacher expand on v. 12 by listing some of the works that Jesus has done according to the Fourth Gospel and how the Church has/might expand on those works.

Gerard Sloyan (Interpretation: John) notes that the common theme of chapters 14-17 is the indwelling of Christ in believers. He notes that the opening advice which might be platitudinous (“Don’t worry, be happy!”), instead is a real consolation in that Jesus adds the assurance of eternal life where there are many rooms.

These three commentaries are consistent in interpreting vv. 6 & 7 as a statement like that of Joshua “For me and my house, my faith is in the LORD,” rather than a polemic against other religions.

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?

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

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?

May 15th: “It’s Me”

I. Establish the text

A. Select the Pericope: John 10:1-10

C. Other texts for Year A for 4th Sunday in Easter

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

1 How might this phrase be modernized? “He who enters a home by a window … or enters a car with a coat hanger … bypasses security …

3 My dad had a corner office on the 50th floor, but he knew the security guards by name. Made entry easier, but also improved security.

4-5 Who are you on an “It’s me,” basis?

7-9 Some may read this exclusively, e.g. “Someone who does not enter by Jesus, does not get in,” (and that may be true), but it is more important that we read this as the easy way in is to get on a first name basis with Jesus.

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

  • Follows Jesus giving sight to a man blind from birth. After significant debate, the Pharisees throw the man out of the temple. This passage concludes with Jesus saying: “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.”
  • Followed by “I am the good shepherd …” which raises allegations of blasphemy for asserting being one with God the Father.

II. Literary Study.

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 a “figure”. By design it conceals and reveals, sharpening criticism like a modern political cartoon.

III. Question the text.

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

  • In these figures, the sheep have no voice.
  • The stranger/thief provides a contrast to the shepherd.

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: Contrasting false teachers and prophets with Christ as the protector of the sheep.

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

  • This passage has been used to align church leaders with the Good Shepherd: title of “Pastor,” role of pastoral care, congregations are called “flocks,” a shepherd’s crook might be used as a symbol of office, …

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

Gerard Sloyan (Interpretation: John, JKP, 1988) notes: “The game of picking one’s ‘thieves and robbers,’ one’s ‘other sheep not of this fold,’ is an old one. … No Christian confession or group should indulge lightly in declaring others ‘outside the fold.’ Their being of the same fold with all who bear the Christian name should be a matter of hope and prayer.”

Gail R. O’Day (The New Interpreter’s Bible, Abingdon, 1995, “The Gospel of John”) notes: “Scholars are divided on whether vv. 1-5 contain one unified figure of speech or whether it is the fusing of two distinct figures. … one about entering the sheepfold (1-3a), a second about the shepherd (3b-5).” A sharp division is not essential as the sentences form a consistent image of the shepherd as contrasted with the thief/stranger.

Fred B. Craddock (Knox Preaching Guides: John, 1982) discusses if this passage can be considered apart from chapter 9, due to the change in imagery. He argues for independence pointing to the time markers at 7:22 and 10:21.

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?

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

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?

May 1st: “As One Sent”

I. Establish the text

A. Select the Pericope: John 20:19-31

B. Establish translation: Review NIV, NRSV, TEV, BHS/NA26, …

C. Other texts for Year A for 2nd Sunday in Easter

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

19 From whom do we have fear of now that we must keep our doors locked?
Is the doors being locked a metaphor for the minds of the disciples being shut to the possibility of Jesus rising from the grave? Mary just announced it to them!

20 The other 10, had also seen Jesus’ hands and feet.

21a Repetition of blessing after the disciples recognized Jesus and rejoiced.

21b Christians are sent!!! A different verb is used for Christ being sent vs. disciples being sent. The difference is demonstrated when the other disciples try to tell Thomas about the resurrection versus Jesus showing Thomas the resurrection.

22 Christ breathes the Holy Spirit upon us, yet we still have to receive it. N.B. parallel with God breathing a breath into Adam in Gen 2. In Gen 2, Adam had no choice but to receive the breath. In John 20, the disciples are commanded to receive the breath. It is up to the disciples to choose whether or not to receive it.

23 What an awesome responsibility! Forgiving sins and retaining sins. While our actions of forgiving/holding is in the future/present (present tense verb), the Jesus’ has completed this in the past (perfect tense verb).

24 – 25 What is our unbelief? What must we see/­hear/­feel/­taste/… to experience the reality of Christ with us?

26 The doors are still shut, yet Jesus breaks in and can be touched, more than just a spirit!

27 Jesus meets Thomas in his unbelief.

28 Confession of faith or statement of recognition? Are they not the same?

29 We cannot physically touch Jesus, yet Jesus has provided enough reassurance to meet our unbelief. The seed of faith has been planted so that we can come to the community of faith for nurturing and growing this seed and aiding the growth of the seed in others.

30 – 31 First Ending?
Purpose of this Gospel is so that we may believe and in believing come to know Christ and live.

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

  • This is part II of the Easter Sunday story. Mary had seen Jesus that morning. In the preceding passage, Mary Magdalene had told the disciples that she had seen Jesus, yet the ten appear to have been as dumb founded as Thomas when Jesus appears to them.
  • The Johanine community added John 21 which contains the testing of Peter and the call to John.
  • This contains the second and third post resurrection revelations of Christ to the believers. It marks the first end of the Gospel. The second ending is similar an appearance of the risen Lord, a recognition, a demonstration of physicality (eating and breaking bread), a test of faith (“Feed my lambs.”), a declaration of faith, and a giving of mission (“Follow me!”).

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

  • v.31 Some variants have present active subjunctive, /pisteuhte/, you may continue to believe, rather than the aorist active subjunctive, /pisteushte/, you might believe. The latter is the preferred reading. Was this written to strengthen the faith of believers or to make new believers?

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?

  • Last Gospel written, about AD 95, after expulsion of Christians from Jewish synagogues. Hence, v 19 “for fear of the Jews” even though the disciples were all Jews. Written as a spiritual/philosophical rather than factual/with parables exposition, by the “beloved disciple”. It has the purpose of shifting the reader from learning about Christ to telling about Christ. John lacks a prophecy of the Second Coming, substituting the presence of the Paraclete. Hence, v 22 “he breathed on them and says to them receive the Holy Spirit/Breath (/pneuma agion/).” Is this John’s version of Pentecost?

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

  • Luke records a parallel scene after the revelation on the road to Emmaus. These two ran back to Jerusalem and found the eleven gathered in the upper room. Jesus came and stood among them. They were troubled and thought they saw a ghost. Jesus showed them his hands and feet and offers to allow them to “handle” him and he eats with them. Luke allows us to see more of the Apostles feelings of fear of seeing Jesus. In John they are awe-struck in wonder and amazement and disbelief.
  • Attested to in 1 Cor 15:5 and Acts 10:41-44.

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

  • 19 How does Jesus enter the room? Does that matter? Since they had to see Jesus’ hands and side, presumably he had entered in an ordinary manner. Could the verb for “he came” include the meaning “he entered?” For example the phrase he came to church presumes entrance in the normal way. Why not here?
  • 21 Christ is sent (/apestalken/) differently than how he sends (/pempw/) us. A few variants use the same verb (/apestalken/) in both locations. G. Sloyan (Interpretation: John) notes that elsewhere the terms are used interchangeably. But the TNDT notes: “/apestellw/ is a strengthening compound of /stello/ and is common in Greek for “to send forth,” differing from /pempw/, which stresses the fact of sending, by its relating of sender and sent and its consequent implication of a commission, especially in Hellenistic Greek.” Subsequent discussion in TNDT notes both the interchangeability and a difference which links /apestellw/ more closely with commissioning or sending forth. Thus the disciples’ sending is subordinate to Jesus’ commissioning by the Father.
  • 22. “Jesus breathed on them (/enefuhsen/) and says to them receive the Holy Spirit (/pneuma/).” /Pneuma/ is used widely for breath and for wind as well as for spirit. But there is also a word for natural wind (/anemos/) and a verb related to pneuma (/penw/) that could have been used to make the distinction between breathing and Spirit less clear.
  • 24. John refers to the twelve as disciples (/maqhtai/) rather than apostles, this may relate to their only being sent at the end of this Gospel.
  • 25. Thomas wishes to thrust (/balw/) his finger and hand into Jesus.
  • 26. The whole pericope is related in past tenses, perfect and imperfect, EXCEPT when Jesus “comes” and “says” to Thomas. Even Thomas’ reply is past tense. ==> Is this not the eternal presence of God?

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?

  • Prose. Functions as a factual account of what happened.

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?

  • Christ is present in the sending of the apostles (and all those who believe yet have not seen).

D. Look for conflict: stated or implied.

  • Jesus expects Thomas to believe having heard, rather than demanding seeing.

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

Fred B. Cradock (Knox Preaching Guides: John) traces the post Easter drop in attendance to the return of the disciples to their old tasks (John 21).

G. Sloyan (Interpretation: John) reminds the preacher that belief is a gift of God. John would associate the failure to believe with an absence of grace from God.

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?

Christ bursts through locked doors to send believers to be the Church with the authority of the Holy Spirit, in spite of human doubts.

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

Despite our doubts that keep us from believing that Christ lives, the risen Christ assures us of Divine presence as we are sent out with the Holy Spirit to forgive sins.

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?