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Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014

Micah 2:1-13; Psalm 9; Revelation 7:1-8; Luke 9:51-62

Having “seen” the judgment against Israel for its worship of the Baal and its alliances with Assyria, Micah trains his eye on Judah (Southern Kingdom) and especially its capital Jerusalem, for those within it who are greedy for gain and exploit the financial weakness of neighbors. This is a warning against any who would exploit another’s hardship, especially those who “rob” their property, covet fields and seize houses. The “therefore” in verse 3 introduces God’s judgment: they will be utterly ruined. The property they have seized from the vulnerable among them will be taken from them as they took it from the weak, and be given to foreigners. It is not a good word for those whose business is buying distressed properties, driving the price down, and then restructuring it financially to gain profit—which is profit at other’s expense. Not only will their profit be given to others, they will lose their place in the assembly of the Lord. The people in Jerusalem do not like what they hear and say to Micah, “Do not preach such things here.” Stick to spiritual things, preacher, not politics or business which you do not understand! Micah responds, these are spiritual things; “Is the Lord’s patience exhausted? Are not my words good to those who walk uprightly?” On the other hand, the people in Jerusalem have become an enemy to the people, stripping the robes from the peaceful, driving out women from their homes. Micah is not a false prophet, but speaks the truth. They, on the other hand, want a preacher whose soft words will bring them assurance and peace—someone to preach to them of wine and strong drink. The oracle ends with a word of hope, not to the greedy, but to their victims. The Lord will gather them as he will gather the survivors of Israel and set them in a shepherd’s fold to care for them. The one who breaks out—the Lord—will do so like a king leading them to victory. Scholars puzzle over these last two verses, wondering what they are doing here, and if they are really Micah’s words or those added by another at a later time, perhaps after all of the doom, gloom and judgment of this book have actually come for both Israel and Judah, the former in captivity to Assyria, the later some 250 years later with Judah in captivity in Babylon. Either way, the word is a word of hope, not to the oppressors, but to the oppressed and an expression of the fact that the Lord does not abandon those in need or those who are the victims of economic as well as political oppression.

This acrostic psalm gives thanks to the Lord for continuing protection and salvation. Though it might appear a royal psalm, the enemies being other nations, we never hear the voice of the prayer identified as the king, as it would be in a royal psalm. Rather, it simply focuses on God’s ability to respond, whether “present” or afar, to scatter the wicked and maintain the just person’s cause. The text moves from thanksgiving for God’s wonderful deeds to thanks for deliverance from particular enemies, to praise for the rebuke of other nations and the wicked, to the affirmation that the Lord is enthroned forever and his throne is a throne of judgment. Then, it affirms that the Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed who seek him. These he will not forsake. After calling for praise in Zion, the psalmist turns to personal intercession and deliverance from those who hate him. Again, there is recollection of God’s judgment on the nations who have been caught in their own net. The wicked are consigned to Sheol, while the needy shall “not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the poor taken away,” one of the high and memorial phrases from this psalm. Finally, God is called upon to “Rise Up” and judge the nations and put them in their place—they are only human. “Se’lah,”is a word that calls upon a musical chorus of praise, whether instrumental or vocal, from the temple musicians. Because this is an acrostic psalm, beginning each successive section with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the flow of ideas can seem a bit jumbled. It can seem two psalms that have been joined into one: the first a psalm of thanksgiving, the second a petition for help. And, because psalm 10 has no introductory material, some believe Psalm 9 and Psalm 10 were originally one. In fact, they appear as one in both the Greek Septuagint and the Roman Catholic Vulgate Bibles.

We have suddenly jumped into the Book of Revelation. Though we have read earlier portions of it prior to now, those readings have been episodic. Consequently, it will be good to review what has happened before today’s reading. The opening chapters witness to Christ’s presence in and among the churches, speaking to them messages of hope as well as correction. Chapter 4 introduces God’s judgment on “the Great city,” (Rome), which will continue through the emergence of the “Holy City,” (the New Jerusalem) in chapter 21. So, we are squarely in the middle of the judgment section. We have been party to the worship that takes place in heaven: praise to God as creator of all, praise to the Lamb as the redeemer of all, and the opening of the seven-sealed scroll by the Lion of Judah, the lamb that was slaughtered but now lives and has all power (seven horns) and all sight. Six of the seven seals have been opened, each unveiling their horror and introducing the four horsemen and their judgments: conquest, war, famine and death by plague—the wages of warfare. The fifth seal reveals the martyrs beneath the throne of God crying out “How long, O Lord, before you judge and avenge our blood?” They are each given a white robe (symbol of triumph rather than purity). The sixth seal represents the beginning of the end as the earth, and its cosmic partners begin to disintegrate, and the cosmic order turns to chaos. Today’s lesson gives us an interlude in the destruction as the church is sealed (an ancient term for Christian baptism) and Christians are marked with the gift of endurances. The number of those sealed is symbolic: twelve tribes of Israel multiplied by the twelve apostles times 1000—the apocalyptic number for absolute fullness. As Paul has written in Romans, all Israel is to be redeemed (Romans 11:26).

As the time draws near for Jesus to be “taken up,” he sets his face toward Jerusalem where he knows he must die. Jesus sends messengers ahead of them, to make preparation for their hospitable welcome in the towns and villages along the way. The Samaritans, when they learn that he is headed for Jerusalem (capital of their ancient enemy), rather than Samaria, refuse to receive him. James and John are outraged and want to call down fire from heaven to consume them, but Jesus rebukes them. Notice that, at this point, a portion of the text lies in the footnotes, which seem to be a later theological correction to judgment on the Samaritans, and Jesus’ disclaimer of violence against them. As they make their way to Jerusalem, others want to join him, providing the opportunity for Jesus to talk about the demands of discipleship. Those who offer to follow him need to know that he has no permanent place here to rest, neither will they. When Jesus calls another to follow, he asks permission to first bury his father, to which Jesus says, “This is more important.” “Let the dead bury the dead. As for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another is ready to follow but wants to go back and first bid farewell to his family. Jesus responds that no one looking back to old ties is fit for the kingdom of God—even family ties. These are extraordinarily harsh responses. In all probability they were included here by Luke to speak to the church for which his gospel is written. Is it warning about the cost of discipleship, or is it confirmation that the very hardships they are experiencing as Jesus’ disciples have, in fact, been foretold by Jesus, and give witness and confirmation to the fact that they are truly Jesus’ disciples? Probably both!

Posted October 20, 2014
Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Micah 1:1-9; Psalm 149; 1 Corinthians 10:1-13; Matthew 16:13-20

Today we begin reading the prophet Micah, who with Isaiah of Jerusalem, Amos and Hosea is one of the first of the “writing prophets.” Micah’s preaching can be dated by the three king mentioned in the introduction verse: Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, who reigned in Jerusalem, sequentially, from about 742 to 686 BCE. Micah’s initial preaching is during the last days of the northern kingdom, before it fell in 722 BCE and became a province of Assyria. Thereafter, Micah’s preaching is to the Southern Kingdom—Judah. The book begins with an editorial introduction in verse one, telling us that Micah came from Moresheth, a village in the Judean foothills south of Jerusalem. Notice that it is the things he “saw” that are written down. Then, he begins an oracle of judgment against Israel delivered from Judah, warning that the Lord is coming from his temple in Jerusalem to tread down the high places of worship in Israel. The mountains will melt before him like wax before a fire and the valleys will burst open like water running down a steep place. All of this is because of the transgressions of Jacob. Notice the Hebrew parallelism—the pattern of making a statement, then following it with a second, similar statement. Micah follows “the transgressions of Jacob,” with “the sins of the house of Israel.” Both phrases say the same thing, as Jacob’s name was ultimately changed to Israel after wrestling with God. The transgressions are identified as those of Samaria—the very same that Hosea was denouncing. This is the only oracle that Micah delivers against Samaria. Scholars think that someone other than Micah later added to it the words about Jerusalem, since it was the capital of Judah where Micah did most of his preaching. Samaria will be destroyed and become a heap, fit only for planting vineyards. The reference to pouring down stones into the valley has to do with the king’s stone palace built in Samaria thought to be invincible. It will tumble down into the valley with its walls razed to their foundations. The idols they use in worship will be destroyed. The wages of a prostitute is a reference to the tribute Israel paid to Assyria and, earlier, Egypt. Finally, Micah calls on the people of Jerusalem to join him in lament and wailing. The biblical prophets often enacted their prophecy and, so Micah promises to go barefoot and naked as a sign of what will happen to Israel. Her wound is not only incurable, it has spread to the gates of Judah.

This is another “Hallelujah” psalm that calls on the assembly to “sing to the Lord a new song.” Employing Hebrew parallelism, Israel is called to be glad in its maker, and the children of Zion to rejoice in their king, making melody with tambourine and lyre, and praising him with dancing. The Lord takes pleasure in his people, adorning the humble with victory. Let the high praises of God be in their throats as the two-edged battle sword is in their hands, executing vengeance against their enemies, binding the defeated king in fetters and his nobles in chains. In other words, remember that this victory is not their doing, but the Lord’s, a judgment decreed by the Lord. It is glory for all of God’s faithful. The psalm ends as it begins, with a Hallelujah—“Praise the Lord!”

Paul employs sacramental imagery linked to stories of the Children of Israel’s wilderness wanderings to warn the Corinthians that, just as their forbearers were baptized with Moses in the passing through the sea and ate the spiritual food of the wilderness (an allusion both to the manna and to the bread of the Lord’s Supper) and drank from the spiritual rock of Christ (the cup of Christ in the Supper), nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them and struck them down, a reference to Numbers 14;16. Paul says these things were allowed to occur so that they could become examples to the Corinthians, so that they might not desire the same evil that the children of Israel did in the wilderness. Those people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to revel in sexual immorality. The result was God’s judgment, in which twenty-three thousand fell in one day (Numbers 25:1-9). So, do not put Christ to the test by your grumblings and complaints, as those in the wilderness did who were struck by serpents (Numbers 21:4-9). Do not complain as some of them did and were destroyed by the destroyer (God’s avenging angel, Exodus 12:23; 2 Samuel 24:16). All of this happened to serve as an example to those who followed. So, Paul warns the Corinthians about the temptations they are facing in their worship meal gatherings that run the risk of sliding into Greek Symposia, with the drunkenness and sexual exploits that were common in such Hellenistic gatherings. On the other hand, Paul reminds them that they are not left to themselves. No testing has overtaken them that is not common to everyone. Remember, God is faithful, and will not let us be tested beyond our strength, and with every testing will also provide a way out so that we may be able to endure it.

We hear the event of Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, told through the eyes and words of Matthew. The site is named, Caesarea Philippi (a site in the north at the base of Mt Hermon and headwaters of the Jordan, not the Caesarea that was home to the royal summer palace on the Mediterranean Sea). In Matthew, Peter is blessed for his confession rather than warned—he has not come to this by himself but has been granted it by Jesus’ Father in heaven. And so, another blessing is bestowed: his name is changed from Simon to Petros, which mean “boulder” or large rock. And upon this rock Jesus will build his church. The gates of hell will not prevail against it. In addition, Peter is given the keys to the kingdom and the power to bind and loose sins. (It is from this text that the Roman Catholic Church traces the authority of the Pope.) Only after this does Jesus warn the disciples not to tell anyone that he is the Christ. It is a very different account than we read in Mark or Luke, written for a different church in which Peter is clearly the leader.

Posted October 19, 2014
Saturday, October 18, 2014

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Hosea 14:1-9; Psalm 21; Acts 28:17-31; Luke 9:37-50

After all of the horrible and ghastly threats, the Book of Hosea ends with God pleading with Israel to return. God promises to forgive all their disloyalty and again love them freely—God’s anger has turned away from him. The imagery of abundance and fruitfulness is used to speak of the blessings upon their return: they shall flourish like a garden and blossom like the vine, words that play off against the false promises of Baal. The oracles of judgment, after all, have been issued to warn more than condemn, and to appeal to Israel to return to the Lord. That means not only rejection of Baal, its sexual and idol worship, but also their alliance with Assyria. The final two verses point the reader to God’s righteousness and assert God’s justice, and may have been added later for, indeed, Israel did not harken to these words of Hosea, and Samaria was ultimately destroyed in 722 BCE by Assyria as it turned Israel into a province.

Psalm 21 is a royal psalm that offers praise and thanksgiving to the Lord for the strength and victory he has given to the king. God has given the king his heart’s desire, met him with rich blessing, and set a crown of gold on his head. He asked for and has been given length of days, and his glory, majesty and splendor are great because of what God has done for him. The king trusts in the Lord whose steadfast love shall establish him forever. The psalm then turns to the king’s enemies, invoking God’s wrath on them and upon their children, who he asks be put to flight. The psalm ends with an affirmation and prayer that the Lord will be exalted and victorious in all that is coming, with a promise to sing God’s praises and praise God’s power.

This final portion of the Book of Acts has Paul in Rome. Three days after his arrival, Paul calls together the local leaders of the Jews to explain his circumstances in Jerusalem and Caesarea and how it is that he was forced to appeal to the emperor—even through there were no charges against him. The Jewish leaders reply that they have received no letters from Judea about Paul and none coming from Jerusalem that have reported or spoken any evil against Paul. That said, they would like to hear from Paul, especially, what he thinks about “this sect we know that everywhere is spoken against.” They set a day for them to come and again meet with Paul at his lodging. On that day, when they return in great numbers, Paul spends the day explaining the gospel to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the prophets. Some are convinced, while others refuse to believe. In disagreement, they leave Paul, and, as they do, Paul makes one final statement to them, quoting Isaiah 6:9-10. Then, once again, he repeats the formula he has used in synagogue after synagogue: “Let it be known to you then that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.” The book concludes telling us that Paul continued to live in Rome at his own expense, two more years, welcoming all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. The book closes with Paul preaching the gospel at the very center of the Roman Empire.

As Jesus and the three disciples come down off the mountain, they encounter a great crowd that has come out to meet him, including a man who has come to beg Jesus to look at his son who is possessed by what looks very much like epilepsy. He has begged the disciples to cast it out, but they could not. Jesus speaks deridingly of a faithless and perverse generation, wondering how much longer he must be with them and bear them. Is he speaking to the crowd, or is he speaking of his followers who have not been able to exorcise the spirit? Probably both! Jesus asks to see the boy and, as he is being brought to him, the demon dashes the boy to the ground in convulsions. Jesus rebukes the unclean spirit, heals the boy and gives him back to his father, and all watching are astounded. Turning to his disciples he says, “Let these words sink in—‘The son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands.’” But again, they do not understand. Luke defends the disciples’ ignorance by saying the meaning of this was concealed from them, so that they could not perceive it, and that the disciples were afraid to ask Jesus what it meant. This is followed by the argument among the disciples about which one of them is the greatest. Jesus, aware of what is going on, puts a little child among them and says, “Whoever welcomes this child welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest—a slightly different tack than Mark has taken with this incident. John responds that they have seen someone casting out demons in Jesus’ name and they tried to stop him because he is not among them as one of Jesus’ followers. Jesus tells them not to stop him, for “whoever is not against you is for you.” The disciples are still struggling with the shift in world view that Jesus requires of his followers. They are still locked into conceptions of hierarchy, power, honor and shame that the world operates out of and have yet to grasp what the kingdom of God is really all about. This brings to a conclusion Jesus’ ministry in Galilee.

Posted October 18, 2014
Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday, October 17, 2014

Hosea 13:9-16; Psalm 17; Acts 28:1-16; Luke 9:28-36

The oracle of destruction continues asking, “Who can help you? Where is your king now?” God reminds them that he alone is their king. Yes, they asked for a king and, in his anger, God gave them a king. Look what has come of it. God’s wrath has taken their king away. Ephraim is like a child in the womb about to be born, who is breached, or who refused to come forth head-first out of the womb. God asks a rhetorical question about rescue from Sheol—the underworld where all who have died now “exist” in a state of nothingness—should God do this? The verse can be translated two ways: 1) God will do it, or 2) God will not. The open ambivalence is apparent in the word the NRSV translates “compassion”, as it can also be translated “vengeance.” As always, in Hosea, in the midst of the oracle of judgment, God still holds out the possibility of redemption. But, then the destruction of Samaria is announced. She who has herded and chased after the wind will now be destroyed by an east wind—Assyria—blowing in from the hot, dry wilderness to parch and consume all that is there—every precious thing. The child that is breached within the womb shall not come forth. Because of her guilt and rebellion against God, Samaria will fall by the sword in especially vicious and cruel warfare—the children being dashed to pieces and the pregnant women torn open, killing them and their unborn children.

Psalm 17 is a plea for deliverance that begins with the lament of the innocent, calling on God for deliverance, and ends with assurance that God will do it. The psalmist declares innocence, with lips free from deceit, and invites God’s night visitation to try his heart and test him. God will find no wickedness in him. He has avoided the ways of the violent and held fast to God’s paths. And so, he calls upon God to listen, to show steadfast love and guard him as “the apple of your eye,” hiding him “in the shadow of your wings;” both are powerful poetic images of God’s intimate care. The one who prays is surrounded by pitiless enemies who speak arrogantly and like a lion, track him down as their prey, eager to ambush and tear him apart. And so, the call comes for God to “rise up, confront and overthrow them!” “By your sword deliver my life from the wicked.” His enemy’s only concern is their bellies. He pleads, “Fill them with what you have in store for them”—God’s vengeance!

The diary account continues now that they have reached land, with everyone safe. They learn that they are on Malta where the local people show them unusual kindness. Wet and cold, as it begins to rain, they build a fire and, in the course of it, Paul gathers some brushwood and places it on the fire. As he does, a viper driven out by the heat fastens itself to Paul’s hand. Seeing this, the people assume Paul is a murder who, though escaping the justice of drowning at sea, is now being punished by fate. Paul simply shakes the viper back into the fire and suffers no harm. At that, the people are astonished. They had expected Paul to swell up and die from the poisonous bite. When that does not happen, the people conclude that rather than a criminal, Paul is a god. The leading man of the Island, named Publius, provides hospitality for Paul and his companion(s) for three days. Publius’ father is sick with dysentery and fever, and so Paul visits him, prays, lays hands upon him and heals him. When this becomes known, others from the island come to Paul for healing and are cured. The result is that many honors are bestowed on Paul and his traveling companion(s) by the people of Malta, and as they prepared to sail on to Italy, they are given all the provisions they need. Three months later, they board an Alexandrian ship named after the twin children of Zeus, who were thought to be the patrons of sailors. The ship had wintered in Malta, and after stopping in Syracuse, an important port in Sicily, they sail on to Rhegium, the port at the foot of Italy. When a south wind arises, they sail on to Puteoli, a port on the Gulf of Naples, where they find a group of believers who invite them to stay with them. After seven days, Paul, the centurion and his companion(s) moved on to Rome. When the believers there hear that Paul has come to Rome, they gather to meet him, coming from as far away as the Forum of Appius, some 40 miles away. Upon seeing these brothers and sisters, Paul rejoices and thanks God for his protection and care. Paul is allowed to live by himself under house arrest, but is able to continue his work.

Peter has confessed Jesus to be the Messiah, now, eight days later, Jesus takes Peter, James and John with him up a high mountain to pray. Mountains were regarded as “thin places” where the membrane between heaven and earth was especially porous, and where a theophany might take place. While Jesus is in prayer, the appearance of his face changes, his clothes become dazzling white, revealing his inner identity, and, suddenly, Moses and Elijah appear and engage Jesus in conversation. Interestingly enough, we are not told how the three disciples know who these other two men are; they simply know! What we are told is that they appear “in glory”—their heavenly state. Remember that Elijah was assumed bodily into heaven. There is also an extra-biblical tradition that did not make its way into Torah that says Moses did not die, but was also bodily assumed into heaven. The conversation between these three is about Jesus’ departure (the Greek word is “Exodus”) he is about to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter, James and John, though exhausted, manage to stay awake through this and see it all. As Moses and Elijah appear to be taking their leave, Peter suggests building three booths, one for Jesus and one for each of the two heavenly visitors. As the words are coming out of Peter’s mouth, a cloud surrounds them (another sign of theophany), which is why we are told they are terrified. Then from the cloud comes God’s voice saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen (some manuscripts include “my Beloved,”), listen to him!” Immediately thereafter, the heavenly visitors are gone, and Peter, James and John are left alone with Jesus, pondering in silence what they have seen. They will remain silent about this until after the resurrection.

Posted October 17, 2014
Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Hosea 13:4-8; Psalm 18; Acts 27:27-44; Luke 9:18-27

Hosea reminds the people that God brought them out of Egypt and cared for them in the wilderness wanderings, feeding them until they were satisfied. But when they became satisfied, they also became proud and quickly forgot the Lord—an all too common human failing. Consequently, God will punish them, become like a lion or leopard among them, or a bear deprived of her cubs, tearing them open and devouring them as a wild animal consumes its prey.

Psalm 18 is introduced as a psalm of David, uttered when the Lord had rescued him from the hand of Saul. Scholars classify this as a “Royal Psalm of Thanks for Victory.” But without the elaborate introduction between “To the leader…,” and “I love you, O Lord…,” this is a classic psalm of thanksgiving and praise for God’s intervention in one’s life, regardless of the circumstances or whether or not one is king. Notice how general the psalmist’s troubles are: “cords of death encompass, torrents of perdition assail, cords of Sheol entangle, the snares of death confront.” They could apply to anyone. There is simply unabashed love expressed for the Lord because of God’s deliverance and salvation. From the temple in Jerusalem, the Lord has heard the psalmist’s cry. The central portion of this reading uses the familiar storm image to speak of God’s presence and sovereignty. Such language was common in the religious language of the Canaanites as well, and may well have been appropriated from a Baal liturgy to make the point that it is the Lord who is sovereign even over those deities. Remember, at this stage, Israel was not monotheistic, but convinced that their God was the God of gods. Today’s reading concludes with the psalmist expressing the conviction that all this has taken place, because God has rewarded God’s own integrity—it has nothing to do with what the psalmist has done. It then returns to the theme of the blessings of keeping the ways of the Lord. This is the third longest psalm in the collection, fifty verses in all. Only in that final verse do we learn that the psalmist is the king, the Lord’s anointed.

After fourteen days adrift on the sea on what is now the Mediterranean (Sea of Adria—not the Adriatic Sea so designated today), the sailors can smell land and begin to take soundings of the sea. They discover that “the bottom is coming up quickly” and fear they may run aground (as Paul has said they would), and so put out anchor from the stern. Some of the sailors decide to abandon ship in one of the small boats, under the guise of placing an anchor from the bow. Paul discovers this and warns the centurion and the soldiers that, unless all stay aboard ship, they will not be saved. So the sailors cut the ropes to the boat and set it adrift. Just before daybreak, Paul urges everyone to take some food, for it will strengthen them for the ordeal they are about to undergo, yet not a one of them “will lose a hair from [their] head.” Then, using language that is Eucharistic, Paul takes bread, gives thanks to God, breaks it and begins to eat, and encourages the others to do so also. If so, in so doing, this is the first “open” Eucharist on record! The others do eat, and we are told that there are two hundred seventy-six people on board. After eating, they throw the rest of the wheat into the sea. As the sun rises, they see land but do not recognize it. However, they see a bay with a beach and plan to run the ship ashore there and cast off the anchors. Using oars and hoisting a foresail they make for the beach, but they strike a reef in route. Try though they might to free the ship, they cannot, while the stern of the ship is being broken up by the waves. The soldiers plan to kill the prisoners, lest some swim away and escape, but the centurion, in an attempt to save Paul, prevents them from doing so. Rather, he orders those who can swim to jump overboard and head to the beach, while the rest follow floating in on planks and other debris from the disintegrating ship. In the end, all two hundred seventy-six make it safely to shore.

Jesus withdraws to a lonely place to pray and has taken the twelve with him. He asks them who the people say that he is, and we hear the answer given a few verses earlier in describing Herod’s awareness of Jesus. Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah, and still others, one of the ancient prophets arisen. Jesus then asks who they say him to be, and Peter confesses him to be the Messiah (Christ) of God.” In response, Jesus sternly orders them to tell no one anything, saying “The Son of Man” (Jesus’ favorite term for himself) must undergo great suffering, be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. Contrary to Mark, we hear no objection to this, much less any sense that they understand what he is saying. Rather, Luke includes Jesus’ words on discipleship and what it means: denying themselves, taking up their cross daily and following him. We sense that these words are meant less for the twelve than those to whom this gospel is later being read. To this is added Jesus’ words on finding our lives through losing them for his sake, and the question of what profit there is in gaining the whole world and losing our lives in the process. His words on being ashamed of him are clearly directed to the listener more than the twelve, as we are reminded that abandoning him in times of trial will mean his abandonment of us when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and the holy angels. He then adds a promise that, for the reader, has already been fulfilled: some of them standing there will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God. The kingdom has been revealed in his resurrection.

Posted October 16, 2014
The Rev. Dr.       Fred R. Anderson

Author: The Rev. Dr.       Fred R. Anderson
Created: June 21, 2012

The Rev. Dr. Fred R. Anderson, Pastor of Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, offers thoughts on today’s lectionary readings.

© 2014