Tag Archives: Luke

December 9th: “Road Construction”

I. Establish the text

A. Select the Pericope: Luke 3:1-6

B. Other Texts for the 2nd Sunday in Advent, Year C

1. Malachi 3:1-4

2. Philippians 1:3-11

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

2b The call of John follows the pattern of the call of several of the prophets. In Hebrew the phrase frequently translated as “The word of the Lord came to …” can also be translated as “The word of the Lord HAPPENED to …” I believe the latter more nearly reflects what occurs. The former can be interpreted like receiving the morning news paper, it implies the word of the Lord can be received with out action. But whenever the word of the Lord HAPPENS to the prophets they immediately do and speak. When the word of the Lord HAPPENS to someone they are no longer the same as they were before.

3 How is John’s baptism different from the baptism of Jesus Christ? For me the difference is first repentance “BECAUSE OF” rather than “FOR” the forgiveness of sins and second the addition of the assurance of eternal life. This is why I baptize infants, not because they have turned from their sins, but as a sign and seal that they have already been forgiven so that they might turn towards God throughout their lives.

4a And also in the post exilic prophet Malachi.

4b What do we need to do to prepare the way of the Lord TODAY?

5 C.F. Interstate roads to local roads with dive through hollows and jog around farms. The latter is nicer for sightseeing and for distractions along the way. But the straight roads are for urgent traffic. The word of the Lord requires the path for the most urgent traffic. With the least distractions from the left or to the right.

6 We should not be quick to narrow the scope of God’s action. N.B. The covenant of Noah is with every living creature (Genesis 9:12).

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

  • The New Oxford Annotated Bible Includes Malachi 2:17 and 3:5 with 3:1-4. These verses then become the answer to 2:17 (Where is the God of justice?) and 3:5 exposes the other side of the sword of justice which cuts away those who “do not fear the [Lord.]”
  • Follows youth of Jesus. Precedes the baptism of Jesus by John.
  • Luke 3:7-17 shifts the emphasis from the one who prepares the way to the message that the one who prepares gives to the people. This is next Sunday’s pericope.

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

Luke 3:6 NIV “all mankind.” NRSV “all flesh.”

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?

Luke maintains a tension between the kingdom as already and the not yet come. Thus the listing of the secular and religious rulers acknowledges the “not-yet” and the identification of John as the voice in the wilderness fulfills the “already.”

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

Matt 3:1-12 — Omits historical markers, which places John the Baptizer in context of secular and religious rulers. Adds John’s call to repentance. Relocates John from the Jordan to the desert of Judea. Shortens the quotation of Isaiah to only the first phrase.

Mark 1:1-8 — Presents Mark as a fulfillment of the prophecies of Isaiah rather than as conforming to the prophecies.

Luke 3:1-6 — Of the Synoptics, only Luke includes and interprets the quote: “and all flesh shall see God’s salvation.” Or according to Isaiah: “And all flesh shall see it together.”

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?

The John the Baptizer narrative serves as an interlude from the chronology of Jesus’ life, focusing on the chronology of John the Baptizer. It also foreshadows the Jesus’ ministry and rejection of his message.

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: The Word of the Lord came in the midst of life, not apart from an historical setting. And the Word that came was consistent with the prophecies that proceeded him.
  • Emotional Center:
  • Music:

D. Look for conflict: stated or implied.

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

Why are we reading about John the Baptizer while we are trying to get ready to celebrate Christmas?

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

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?

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 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?

April 22nd: Youth Group Skit

Deutsch: Grissini in einem Brotkorb English: G...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our Youth Group has written a skit to describe how the disciples might act if Jesus’ trial, death, and resurrection happened this year, with modern technology. Accordingly communion will seek consistency with what might be served a typical 21st century party: bread sticks and grape drink.

C. Other texts for Year B for 3rdSunday in Easter

 

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March 25th: “Forgiveness as Healing”

This Week’s Passage: Luke 5:17-26

Highlights: Although the Son of Man has the power to forgive sins, some unnamed neighbors became instruments of God’s grace and healing. So too can we.

I. Establish the text

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

17a The Pharisees and Teachers were sitting in the periphery of Jesus’ classroom.

17b Was the power of the LORD to heal not always with Jesus?

18 When Jesus is in the house it’s full.

19 Name four friends who might disassemble someone’s house so you might be healed.

20 Not the faith of the man on the pallet, but the faith of his friends, yields grace! Who might we cover with faith? Consider friends at a funeral, covering each other’s doubts to assuage grief.

21-22 NB: Jesus did not say: “I forgive your sins,” but notes that “His sins have been forgiven,” allowing that God alone forgives sins.

23-24 Thus if any should attempt to allow Jesus to weasel word out of blasphemy, he takes on the mantle of forgiving sins and healing.

25 The healed man glorifies God, not Jesus!

26 Everyone, presumably including the Pharisees and Teachers, praises God for the awe inspiring deed done before them.

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

  • Verses 17-26 include a complete story. Abrupt scene changes define its beginning and ending.
  • It is preceded by another healing story and followed by another teaching in front of the Pharisees.

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 2:1-12 – Omits phrase about the power to heal being with Jesus. Specifies four friends dig through the roof.
  • Matthew 9:1-8 – Omits lowering through a roof because of the crowd. Explains the awe as due to giving humans authority to forgive.

III. Question the text.

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

The paralyzed man is reduced to an object, until he has been healed. Healing unparalyzes his mouth.

The man’s friends actions speak more loudly than any words they might have spoken.

The Pharisees cling to orthodoxy, and deny their responsibility for healing and grace.

Jesus uses a miraculous healing to teach about his power to forgive.

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: Jesus has the power to forgive sins.
  • Emotional Center: Friends carrying the man to the roof top and lowering him through an opening.
  • Music: “There Is a Balm In Gilead”

D. Look for conflict: stated or implied.

  • Who has power to forgive? Only God in heaven?
  • The neighbors’ faith is sufficient for grace, not the teacher and Pharisees, without a word of confession or affirmation from the man who received grace.

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

  • Why were the friends so motivated to lower the man through a roof?

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

  • The image of the man coming through the roof can easily distract from theological points in the story.

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

R. Allan Culpepper (The New Interpreter’s Bible, “The Gospel of Luke.” Abingdon, 1995.) notices that Luke surprises the reader with forgiveness after setting the stage for another healing miracle. When the Pharisees question the power to forgive, Jesus neither backs down nor sidesteps, but escalates the conflict, claiming divine authority, and the title of an apocalyptic figure (the Son of Man). Culpepper suggest that Luke used the title “Son of Man,” because of a lack of general knowledge in the first century as to what it meant. He reflects: “Faith is not found in the assembly of scribes and Pharisees from all the surrounding region, but in four unnamed neighbors.” “The real blasphemy … is found in those who resisted Jesus’ ministry to the afflicted, bound, and oppressed.”

Fred B. Craddock (Interpretation: Luke. John Knox Press, 1990.) notes that in this passage, the power to forgive sins is separate from the power to heal. In this passage, the power to heal confirms that Jesus also has the power to forgive.

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’ power to forgive sins is affirmed by the power to heal.

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?

Although the Son of Man has the power to forgive sins, some unnamed neighbors became instruments of God’s grace and healing. So too can we.

March 11th: “Forgiving Family”

This Week’s Passage: Luke 15:1-2 & 11-32

Highlights: Foolishness: What parent would allow a child to wander off to certain problems? Foolishness: Restoration rather than restitution. Wisdom: Restoration does not harm others. The dutiful son’s inheritance would not be diminished by the prodigal’s return.

I. Establish the text

C. Other texts for Year B for 3rd Sunday in Lent

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

1-2 The audience for these parables, tax-collectors and sinners in the presence of Pharisees, parallels the characters in the third parable.

11-12 One son asks for his share the other presumes it is his. Tax collectors gathered close to Jesus, while the Pharisees and scribes grumbled about who Jesus was including.

12b Foolishness: What father would divide his estate before his death!

13 Foolishness: What father would allow his child to wander off to certain problems?
Why a distant land? Was he ashamed to do these things in the presence of his friends?

14 Poverty compounded! Instead of compounded interest, natural disaster compounds reckless spending.

15 Repentance begins with self responsibility.

16 Minimum wages jobs did not pay a living wage, nor do they today.

17 Repentance begins by giving thanks.

18-19 Repentance is resurrection! But is this repentance or merely a plan for better working conditions?

20 Foolishness: Compassion before confession!

21-24 Foolishness: Restoration rather than restitution.
Does the father interrupt the son’s planned confession or does the son omit his planned pledge of submission to not insult the compassion his father has already expressed?

25-27 The party started even before people could return from the fields. No invitations. Did the elder son feel he had been snubbed?

28-30 Self righteousness blocks restoration of self and others.

28 The dutiful son plays by the rules for success and receives no reward. While the wayward is rewarded.

31 Wisdom: Restoration does not harm others. The dutiful son’s inheritance would not be diminished by the prodigal’s return.

32 Wisdom: For what woman having searched to find a lost coin does not rejoices on finding it. What man having lost a lamb, does not invite his neighbors to celebrate on finding it. Thus, how much more would we celebrate on the repentance of a child.

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

  • Skips over parables of rejoicing over a found coin and over a found lamb.

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

  • 21 Several respectable translations add to the end: /poihson me ws ena twn misqiwn sou/ “make me as one of your hired servants” thus completing the pledge he had planned earlier. Several more expansive manuscripts (A L W) omit this phrase. Thus many modern translations relegate it to a marginal note. The addition eases the radical nature of grace.

II. Literary Study.

B. What is the context of the passage, and the book?

  • Preceded by two parables on rejoicing on finding relatively small items after sacrificing much.
  • Followed by parable of the dishonest manager and the rich man and Lazarus.
  • Collectively, these five parables tell of God rejoicing for inward renewal and repentance.

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

  • 2 The grumbling of the Pharisees foreshadows the elder son’s grumbling (vv. 29 & 30).
  • 13 REB and TEV interpret “having gathered everything”as getting cash for his share of the property.
  • 13 /aswtws/ Occurs only here in the New Testament. Translations include: wild (NIV), reckless (TEV), dissolute (NRSV, REB), debauchery (NJB).
  • 18 /anastas/ second aorist active participle, nominative singular indicative, “having arisen”. Also used by Luke to describes Jesus’ resurrection.
  • 22 Robe would be a ritual garment not worn while working, the ring a symbol of authority, and sandals an item not worn by slaves/servants.
  • 23, 27, & 30 /quw/ used for ritual slaughtering rather than simply butchering.
  • 32 /ezhsen/ aorist active indicative 3rd person singular, “he lived”. A literal translation conveys recognition of a faithful remnant in the death of sin. Typical modern translations render this as “has come to life” or “is now alive,” capturing repentance as resurrection.

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 the longest parable and most complicated parable, yet it remains compact through careful word choice and construction.
  • The unresolved reaction of the elder son invites the reader to celebrate with God.

III. Question the text.

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

Prodigal suffers a fall from wealth to poverty where he recognized the gifts of his former life. He is last seen standing dumbfounded by grace.

Father accedes to the Prodigal’s wishes. The reader is shielded to the father’s grief until the last verse, when it is combined with joy. But will the elder son also enter his joy?

Elder Son feels robbed. Years of toil to live within the rules have gained him nothing. The rewards of life have been given to the Prodigal who merited punishment. Would he recognize that he also was loved, so he too could celebrate his brother’s return?

Tax Collectors and Sinners listening to this story might hear improbable grace.

Pharisees and Scribes listening might hear the father’s compassion that they may have for their children, yet they would also expect retribution and restitution.

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?

  • Emotional Center: The Father forgives before the son has an opportunity to fully express his remorse and offer of recompense.
  • Music: “Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ”

D. Look for conflict: stated or implied.

  • Younger Son rebels against the status quo and leaves home.
  • Father forgives without expectation of repentance and restitution.
  • Elder brother does not forgive and misses the party.

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

John Noland (Word Biblical Commentary: Volume 35B: Luke 9:21-18:34. Word Books, 1993) notes the younger son’s hiring himself out marks the transition from the freedom he sought in demanding his inheritance, to servitude. The elder son not getting even a goat contrasts with the parable of the generous landowner (Matthew 20:1-16). Here the pious son is not even treated as an equal, but as an inferior to the repentant Prodigal. Noland suggests the father wants the elder son to recognize the enrichment of the family by the Prodigal’s return, which should not disturb those who have labored endlessly, for they are only regaining lost brothers.

Robert Karris (“The Gospel According to Luke,” The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Doubleday, 1985) notes that the story plays on other brother stories in which the younger triumphs over the older; Jacob and Esau and Joseph and his brothers.

Fred Craddock (Interpretation: Luke. John Knox Press, 1990.) notes how this parable, like the preceding two, is known by what was lost rather than by the joy of finding. He suggests renaming them as: “the found sheep,” “the found coin,” and “the loving father.” He recommends that preachers concentrate on the brilliance of the diamond of joy in finding rather than in the dark, velvet, blackness from which the diamond shines. He reminds us that grace completes justice.

John R. Donahue (The Gospel in Parable. Fortress Press, 1988) identifies the father as the main character, even though each of the sons draw emotional responses. He notes that the demand for inheritance was not exceptionally out of the ordinary, but when the Prodigal gathers his share and leaves he broke his family and his relationship to Abraham. He cites Deuteronomy 21:18-21 to rationalize the elder son’s expectation of death for the rebellious son. He contrasts the Prodigal’s offer of servitude to restore family relationships with the elder son’s practice of maintaining family by being a slave.

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?

  • Repentant sinners are welcomed home. Grace completes justice.
  • The Church should not complain when God welcomes sinners, but should join in the party.
  • Much of our estrangement is self inflicted by slavery to maintaining or restoring relationships and things.

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

  • God awaits our return with outstretched arms, but seeking penance or justice is easier.

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?

  • Recognize the falsehood of the success myth and experience the compassion of our loving God who welcomes us home.
  • Recognize that laboring for success has no pay off.

February 26th: “Miracle of Forgiveness”

This Week’s Passage: Luke 7:36-50

Highlights: Jesus reverses those who are “in” and those who are “out”. Those who assumed they were saved by their works of righteousness are found guilty and those who recognize their debt before God are forgiven and go out in great joy. We can then come together as a community of forgiven sinners.

I. Establish the text

C. Texts for Year B on the 1stSunday in Lent

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

36 Was this a normal occurrence for Jesus to be invited to dinner with Pharisees? cf Luke 15. The Pharisees note that Jesus welcomes sinners and eats with them.

37 Luke does not tell us what the woman’s sins were, so we may write in whatever we consider to be sinful.

38 “Feet” may also be used as a euphemism for genitals.

38 Why is does Luke note that the jar is alabaster, but not note what kind of perfume is in the jar? Alabaster is the necessary container for myrrh ointment because of its sensitivity to light.

39 NB those tears sufficient to wet are usually a sign of histrionics; pretend rather than genuine emotions.

41 denarii = a days wages for a common laborer. Thus: 8 hrs x $7.5 = $60. 500 denarii = $30,000. 50 denarii = $3,000

39-43 Jesus is challenged on applying the law and responds with his own question of legal implications.

47 The Greek is ambiguous about who is forgiven much and who is forgiven little. It is not a direct condemnation of Simon.

48 This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins! But Luke knew that Jesus was God.

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

  • In verse 47, many variants lack: “her many sins.” Thus leaving the phrase ambiguous about the gender of who is forgiven much or little.

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 26:6-13 – In Bethany, in the home of Simon, a man with a skin disease. The disciples complain about the waste. The anointing is received as preparation for burial. “Whenever the story is told it will be told in remembrance of her.”
  • Mark 14:3 – In Bethany, in the home of Simon the leper. “The people” become angry about the waste. Received as preparation for burial. “Whenever the story is told it will be told in remembrance of her.”
  • John 12:3 – In the house of Mary, the brother of Lazarus, in Bethany. Mary pours a pint of pure nard on his feet and wipes it with her hair. Judas complains. Received as preparation for burial.
  • Luke 7:36-50 – Luke’s theme is repentance and the accepting of forgiveness. He uses the pharisees repeatedly as being blind to accepting forgiveness of sins. This event occurs in Galilee early in Jesus’ ministry.

III. Question the text.

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

The woman does not speak any words, and is only addressed directly at the end of the story, and remains nameless. The woman showed her love for Jesus in buying the expensive ointment and washing her feet with her tears. Simon does not acknowledge her aloud, only to himself. If not for Jesus, she might have remained anonymous and disappeared when the table had been cleared.

Simon becomes a metaphor for all of the pharisees, and by extension, all people who presume they are living within the law.

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?

Some commentaries interpret the woman’s welcoming rituals as erotic. Could these actions be deliberately sensual to elicit revulsion from the reader as expressed by Simon?

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: All have sinned and owe a great debt to friends, neighbors, and especially to God. Those who recognize their sins and remorsefully repent, will receive forgiveness.
  • Music: “Amazing Grace”

D. Look for conflict: stated or implied.

  • The woman’s profuse love and gratitude as opposed to Simon’s reserved attitude toward Jesus.
  • The woman’s free and open penitence as opposed to Simon’s apparent feeling of not needing such penitence.
  • Jesus’ attitude toward the woman as opposed to Simon’s attitude toward her. “What she needs is a community of forgiven and forgiving sinners. This text screams for a church, not just any church but one that says,`You are welcome.'” (Craddock, Interpretation: Luke)

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

  • How big is my debt? Am I ignoring it or over playing my remorse?

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

Fred B. Craddock (Interpretation: Luke, John Knox Press, 1990) encourages readers to separate this encounter as recorded by Luke from other similar encounters recorded in the other Gospels. He cautions interpreters to avoid the erotic implications of how the woman provides the usual welcoming activities of feet washing, a kiss, and anointing. He asks “Where does one go when told by Christ ‘Go in peace’?”

R. Alan Culpepper (The New Interpreter’s Bible, “The Gospel of Luke”, Abingdon, 1995) places this unit as the culmination of other units demonstrating Jesus as more than a prophet. He suggests that Luke has used an older story that was mingled with stories of anointing Jesus prior to his death. He notes that first century dinners would have had a public component unknown today. [Would a dinner in a restaurant compare?] He acknowledges the sexual overtones of the woman’s actions and implications of being touched by someone who is ceremonially unclean. He notes that posing riddles was a normal part of dinner conversation. He clarifies that the woman loves Jesus and treats him kindly because she has been forgiven much (past perfect divine passive) by parallel with the riddle and at the same time not forgiven because she loved deeply. Under his reflections on the passage, Culpepper notes the double shame that Simon has suffered: (1) a harlot has entered his home and attended to his guest in the presence of his other guests and (2) Simon’s guest of honor has called attention to the host’s lack of hospitality.

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 reverses the ins and the outs. Those who assumed they were saved by their works of righteousness are found guilty and those who recognize their debt before God are forgiven and go out in great joy. We can then come together as a community of forgiven sinners.

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

We are ineligible to sit at the table where we assume we belong. But, once we come before Christ to whom we owe the debt, we find the debt canceled.

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?

Realize that we sit too much of the time at the table with the Pharisees, sure of our righteousness and acting within the law, only to be found guilty of gross breeches of hospitality. Realizing our guilt we too come penitently before God who grants us grace. Realizing the gift of grace we go out with great rejoicing.

December 18th: “Hoping for the Impossible”

I. Establish the text

A. Select the Pericope: Luke 1:26-38

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

C. Other texts for Year B for 4th Sunday in Advent

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

26 Sixth month of Elizabeth’s seclusion.

27 What nuances did the word “virgin” carry in the first century? Was the betrothal period designed to validate the virginity of a wife?

28 Considering only the hardships Mary was destined to endure, would we want to be similarly “favored”?

29 At this point, Mary would be unaware of the “favor” that had been bestowed upon her, yet fully aware of the hardships of living in Nazareth. Do we consider ourselves “favored”?

31 Hence the name: “Son of Mary” and not the “Son of Joseph”. Referring to a child by his mother inferred the mother had not passed the betrothal test.

32 What experiences would Mary have to trust/believe a son born to her out of wedlock would be called the “Son of the Most High”? What experiences have we received to trust future revelations?

33 Would first century readers have expected a series of ancestral rulers to continually reign? Is the papacy a human attempt to provide a continual physical/personal presence (c.f. Saul in 1 Samuel)?

34-37 The technical questions bothered 1st century people as much as 21st century people.

38 Would we as readily accede to such a request? How had Mary been prepared to accede to such a vision? Would she have heard of Zachariah’s vision in the temple and accede rather than risk retribution for expressing doubt?

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

  • Verse 26 provides a change of focus from Elizabeth to Mary.
  • Verses 39-45 show Mary validating the proof the angel offered. 46-56 the readers hears of Mary’s belief, perhaps hidden by her haste to see Elizabeth and validate the vision.

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 compacts the entire annunciation to Mary into one verse: 1:18 “Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.” He presents the incarnation from Joseph’s point of view, who also received a vision (1:19-25) instructing him to accept the pregnancy and the child.

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

  • /ParQevnos/: virgin (female and male), also used for maiden and sweetheart in other 1st Century literature.

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: Jesus was the Son of God at his birth.
  • Emotional Center:
  • Music: “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise”

D. Look for conflict: stated or implied.

  • Luke fails to comment on Mary’s change of heart from perplexed by the Gabriel’s initial words to humbly acceding to his request. This shows Mary as completely pliable to divine revelation.

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

  • This is so well known, many will have a hard time hearing the nuances and scandal.

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

Fred B Craddock (Interpretation:Luke, John Knox Press, 1990.) immediately notes the parallel of Mary’s pregnancy with Elizabeth’s: both events demonstrate God’s grace toward the world and power to work in the unable, and that they have sons for our sake. He observes that God’s reasons for choosing Mary are not disclosed. [Perhaps following God’s pattern for selecting David as king.] He links the annunciation to Mary with the annunciation to Sara with the phrase: “For nothing is impossible with God.”

R. Alan Culpepper (“The Gospel of Luke”, The New Interpreter’s Bible, Abingdon, 1995.) highlights nuances which show Mary’s son as greater than Elizabeth’s son. Gabriel’s greeting parallels the assurances given in Judges 6:12. He cites Tobit as rising Mary’s fear. Tobit tells of a jealous angel who successively appeared on a bride’s wedding night and killed her bridegrooms. He reflects: “Today many assume that those whom God favors will enjoy the things we equate with a good life: social standing, wealth, and good health. Yet Mary, God’s favored one, was blessed with having a child out of wedlock who would later be executed as a criminal [and a heretic].” “The ultimate scandal is that God would enter human life with all its depravity, violence, and corruption. Therefore, the annunciation ultimately is an announcement of hope for humankind.”

Rosalind Banbury-Hamm (“Celebrating the good news,” The Presbyterian Outlook, November 7, 2005, p. 25): “Yet, the ways that we celebrate Christmas may water down the gospel from a heady, full-bodied wine to a weak drink that no punch.”

James J. H. Price (“Called to Be a Vessel!” The Presbyterian Outlook, November 26, 2007, p. 16) asserts: “Luke’s aim is not to report a biological miracle, but to confess the divine origin of Jesus as Messiah, Son of God.” He notes: “The Spirit is associated with creation, not primarily procreation (see Ezekiel 37:1-14; Job 32:8; 33:4). It is worth noting that in Hebrew “Spirit” is a feminine word and in Greek a neuter word, thus not associates with a male figure.”

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?

Through the faith of a powerless maiden, the power of the Most High manifested grace to the world through Jesus.

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

Finding favor with God.

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?

Appreciate the scandalous risks that God imposed choosing Mary and thereby see God in our lives.

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.

June 5th: “A People Forgiven”

I. Establish the text

A. Select the Pericope: Luke 24:44-53

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

C. Other texts for Year A for 7th Sunday in Easter

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

44 “While I was still with you,” implies Jesus current presence is less than a visit, although he had eaten bread with the two on the Road to Emmaus and eaten fish.

45 Here he tells them (but Luke omits) how he has fulfilled the scriptures cited in v. 44. Why is Jesus’ earthly mission omitted?

47 Mission of the church is to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins.

48 Each of us stands on a corner of the world, begin in your corner and preach.
Like it or not, each of us has witnessed the rule of Christ.

49 The Holy Spirit will come with power. Candidate’s lament that Presbyterians seem to be still awaiting for this power.

50 How old is this gesture of benediction? Does this link to Moses holding his hands aloft at the battle of Mount Nebo?

51 Is this why the benediction is offered from among the congregation?

52 The disciples returned blissfully unaware of the secular cost they would pay for their spiritual bliss.

53 How does the message get out of the temple?

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

  • Pericope follows the Emmaus Road experience of the two disciples who meet and break bread with Jesus. They run back to Jerusalem, where Jesus presents himself to the eleven and he eat broiled fish in their presence.

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’s gospel ends with the women running away afraid to tell anyone what they had seen on Easter morning. There is no post resurrection experience.
  • In Matthew Jesus meets the disciples on the mountaintop, charges them to go and make disciples, although some doubted. There is no heavenly ascension.
  • Luke ends with the disciples waiting in Jerusalem for power, praising in the temple.
  • John puts the ascension on Easter morning.
  • Possible parallel with Elijah being carried into heaven on a flaming chariot.

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?

  • Final words from Jesus summarizing his ministry. It answers questions like: “If Jesus is risen from the dead, where is he now?”

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

  • In the Apostles’ Creed we say: “he ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty from thence he shall rule the quick and the dead.” So what difference does this make in my life each day?
  • Consider vv 50-53 as a leaving ritual. Consider the impact on the disciples if the resurrection story had ended as in Mark (the women fleeing afraid of the angel’s words). Parallel with good-byes from disrupted pastorates: the angry pastor lashing out in his last sermon, the pastor who leaves without saying good-bye or as if there was nothing to grieve, the pastor who shakes the dust from his feet.

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