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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sunday, December 7, 2014
Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 114; 2 Peter 3:11-18; Luke 7:28-35;

Isaiah sings the song of the vineyard, one of Isaiah’s favorite images for Israel, who is God’s beloved. God planted them on a very fertile hill (Jerusalem). God cultivated the vineyard, planted it with choice vines and built a watchtower in the middle of it, fitting it with all that was necessary for it to produce choice grapes. Instead, it has produced wild grapes. God calls upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the people of Judah to judge between God and his vineyard. What more was there that God could do for them that God has not done? Why then, when God expected choice grapes, did it produce wild ones with their bitter taste? Therefore, God will give the nation over to destruction, removing its hedge, breaking down its wall so that it is trampled underfoot. It shall become a waste, neither pruned nor hoed, and overgrown with briers and thorns. Rain shall no longer fall on its ground. The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel and the people of Judah—his pleasant planting. God expected justice but saw bloodshed, righteousness but heard the cry of the oppressed.

Psalm 114 is a hymn praising God’s power and recounts the wonders God did in claiming the house of Israel as his own when bringing them out of Egypt to make them God’s own dwelling place in the land of promise. The psalm uses various images from creation to emphasize God’s sovereignty at critical points in Israel’s life—the sea looked and fled; the river Jordan turned back to allow the people to cross over. At God’s presence, the mountains skipped like rams and the hills like lambs. Why? Because it is the Lord, the one who turns rocks into pools of water and flint into a gushing spring, a reference to Moses striking the rock in the wilderness. The hymn is a remembrance of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and was later sung at Passover on the 8th day of that celebration, just as it still is today.

2 Peter comes to its conclusion with an exhortation to holy and godly living as the faithful await the coming day of the Lord and the emergence of the new heaven and new earth, where righteousness will finally have a home—be at home! As they wait, they are to strive to be found at peace with one another. They are to regard the patience of the Lord as salvation—God continues to be at work in it. Then the author cites Paul’s letters as authoritative witness corroborating his own thoughts, though he acknowledges that some portions of Paul’s thought are “hard to understand.” He also expresses concern that some have twisted Paul’s words and distorted their meaning, in all probability, Paul’s words on Christian freedom. Those who have done this do so with other scriptures as well but do so to their own destruction. Therefore, the recipients of this letter are to be forewarned, lest they be carried away by the error of such lawlessness and lose their own footing. Rather, they are to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The letter ends with a final ascription of praise: “To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen!”

Jesus has been talking about John the Baptist, and tells the crowd that among those born of a woman no one is greater than John. Yet now, even the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than John! The kingdom has arrived and is reversing all worldly standards. The tax collectors and all others who had gone out to John for baptism were acknowledging this in their response to him. But the Pharisees and lawyers, who refused John’s baptism, were actually rejecting God’s purposes for themselves. Jesus then employs an illustration from a popular child’s game, “Dancers and Mourners,” and says that the religious authorities are like children playing a game, who simply cannot take God’s “yes” for an answer. John came as an ascetic and they said he was possessed. Jesus has come eating and drinking, and they call him a glutton, drunkard, friend of tax collectors and sinners. They simply cannot be satisfied, so distorted have they become in their religious self-satisfaction and ways. But, “wisdom is vindicated by all her children.” God’s work and purposes are being revealed in both John and Jesus. The religious leaders need to hear that in their opposition to John and to Jesus, they are actually opposing God.

Posted December 7, 2014
Saturday, December 6, 2014

Saturday, December 6, 2014
Isaiah 4:2-6; Psalm 110; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Luke 21:5-19

An oracle of salvation and restoration has been inserted into the text at this point to provide the reader some hope in the midst of Isaiah’s doomsday speech. “On that day;” prophetic formula for pointing to the coming “Day of the Lord,” the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and its fruit the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel. This “branch” is a righteous remnant; those who belong to it, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy—those who have been recorded for life in Jerusalem. This notion of “recorded for life in Jerusalem,” will give rise to the idea of a ‘Book of Life” in which God keeps the names of those to be redeemed (Dan 12:1; Rev 20:12). But none of this will take place until the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and burned out the blood stains of Jerusalem. But once that has taken place, the Lord will create over the entire mountain, especially its temple, a cloud of smoke by day and fire by night—sign of God’s presence among them. It is a remembrance of the cloud and pillar of fire that led the children of Israel through their wilderness travels during the exodus. God’s presence will be a refuge and shelter to all who are there in Jerusalem “on that day.”

Psalm 110 is a royal psalm that is an assurance to the King that he is the Lord’s anointed. It was probably used as a new king was crowned, or on the anniversary celebration of his ascension to the throne. It is cast as a prophetic oracle announcing the Lord’s favor. Notice, “The Lord says to my lord”—the court prophet is delivering God’s word to his lord, the king. It is a promise that all of the king’s enemies shall be defeated by the Lord, who will send out from Zion the king’s scepter (symbol of royal power and reign) over all his foes. His people will volunteer to serve, rather than be conscripted, and he will have the power of his youthful days, which will continue. The prophet continues, “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind.” And now, the king is installed not only into royal but priestly office, being designated “a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek,” the mysterious king of Salem that Abraham encountered (Gen 14) on his return from battle. Some suggest that this psalm was first used when David was installed as king in Jerusalem. Whatever, the psalm assigns both royal and priestly power to the king, setting the stage for its later use in messianic thought. The psalm ends with traditional language about triumph over the nation’s foes, and concludes that he shall drink from the stream by the path, refreshed and firmly established as God’s sovereign servant on the earth. This psalm is quoted in the New Testament some fourteen times, a witness to the fact that Jesus is David’s messianic descendent and God’s son and priestly king. It is the psalm Jesus makes reference to when asking the religious leaders in the temple, how is it the Messiah is David’s son, when David calls him his Lord? (Luke 20:41-43)

Paul now turns to address a question that has come back to him, through Timothy, from the infant congregation. Evidently some of its members have died in the interim, and Jesus has not yet returned. Does this mean that they will be excluded from his triumphal return and reign? Paul gives expression to the earliest development of the church’s theology concerning the dead: “As Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.” In fact, these will even precede those who are still alive on that day. Paul then utilized the apocalyptic imagery of the day to describe how this will be. The Lord himself, with a cry of triumphal command and the sounding of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will be the first to rise from their graves. Notice, there is not yet the notion of the dead being in the presence of the risen Lord, as will emerge later. For now, the dead in Christ are dead. But they will rise, and they and all who are alive, who are left until he comes, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air. Thereafter, they will be with the Lord forever. They are to encourage one another with these words. They are to do their grieving over lost loved ones sustained by this hope. One other thought: they will not reign forever “in the air,” as though “in heaven.” This is apocalyptic language and must be read as such, rather than as “swoop down to rescue” theology. The point Paul is making is that at Jesus’ final appearing, those who have died in him—those the Thessalonians are concerned about—will appear with him. They are not being excluded from Christ’s triumphant reign. And, at his appearing with them, the risen Lord will be met by his own who are still living, who have been expecting him momentarily. All shall be a part of Christ’s eternal reign on and in a renewed and perfected humanity and creation.

Standing in the temple precincts, the pilgrim crowd is awed by its majesty. Jesus uses this as an occasion to foretell the destruction of the temple, thought of by them as not only the center of their religious, social and political world, but the dwelling place of God. We can hardly imagine the shock of Jesus’ words. Startled, they ask, “When will this be, and what will be the sign that it is taking place?” Jesus warns against false prophets and goes on to describe a series of calamities and heavenly portents that will take place first. Further, before all of this occurs, they will be arrested and persecuted, handed over to synagogues and prisons, and brought before kings and governors because of Jesus’ name. This is, in the mystery of God’s ways, an opportunity to testify to the truth. They need not prepare their defense in advance, for Jesus himself (note the assumption that he will be risen and present to them in that time), will give them words and a wisdom that none of their opponents will be able to withstand. They will be betrayed by family, and some will be put to death. They will be hated by all because of Jesus’ name. But not a hair of their heads will perish. By their endurance they will gain their souls. This is, of course, precisely what the Book of Acts describes, and Luke’s readers know it. This is Luke’s way of Jesus commenting on and providing courage and hope to those experiencing the hardship of persecution and martyrdom because of their commitment to him.

Posted December 6, 2014
Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday, December 5, 2014
Isaiah 3:1-15; Psalm 22; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12; Luke 20:41-21:4

The oracle now turns upon the Southern Kingdom. The Sovereign Lord will take away support and staff: bread, water, soldier, prophet, diviner, elder, captain of fifty, dignitary, counselor and so on, and make boys their princes with babes ruling over them. That will bring confusion and oppression to the point that none will want to reign over Judah. Jerusalem has stumbled and Judah has fallen because their speech and deeds defy the Lord’s glorious presence. They are like the people of Sodom, they know no shame; their faces reveal it. Woe to these who have brought evil upon themselves. Tell the innocent how fortunate they are for they shall eat the fruit of their labor while the guilty shall have done to them what they have done to others. Verse twelve can be read two ways: “Children are their oppressors, and women rule over them,” or, “gleaners rule over them and creditors are their oppressors,” this latter is the sense in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures). Whichever, the point is that their leaders will mislead and confuse the people and become an embarrassment to them. Consequently, the Lord rises to argue his case and stands to judge the people.

Psalm 22 is the best known lament in the Psalter, primarily because it contains the words that are on the lips of Jesus’ hanging on the cross and is all but prophetic concerning what takes place there. It is a lengthy plea for help that describes the psalmist’s troubles. Day and night he calls for help with no answer. Yet, God is the Holy One enthroned on the praises of Israel; the One his ancestors trusted and he delivered them. But the psalmist does not ask on the basis of his own righteousness. He is but a worm, not human, and scorned by others who despise and mock him. “Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver,” is repeated in the passion (Matthew 27:43 ) with the chief priests, scribes and Pharisees using these words to mock Jesus in his dying. In the midst of suffering, the psalmist remembers that God has cared for him since his birth and from that time the Lord has been his God. Again he pleads, “Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.” Vivid language follows to describe the psalmist’s condition: surrounded by strong and destructive bulls, poured out like water, a heart melted like wax, bones out of joint, mouth dried like a potsherd, and his tongue cleaving to his jaw. The psalmist understands this as God’s judgment against him: “you lay me in the dust of death,” circled by dogs ready to devour his flesh. His enemies likewise stare and gloat over his suffering and divide his clothing among them by casting lots—another image Matthew includes at the cross. After one final plea for the Lord’s presence and aid to save him from the power of the dog and the mouth of the lion, suddenly there is a shift in the second half of verse 22: “From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.” God has acted. The rest of the psalm is one of praise to God for not hiding his face, for answering and for coming to the psalmist in his distress. The psalm is exultant and filled with promises to testify to the Lord’s goodness among his brothers and sisters in the midst of the congregation. His rescue is such that “all the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; and all the families of the nations shall worship him.” For, dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations. Even those yet unborn will be told about the Lord and proclaim him. It is easy to see why the infant church found in this psalm prophetic witness to Jesus’ passion, death, resurrection and eternal rule, and how its influence found its way into the passion narratives.

Paul continues with the theme of holiness as he urges the Thessalonians to continue, as they are doing, to live lives that please God. They are to excel in honoring and loving one another. Yet, they are not to exploit or take advantage of those special bonds of relationship or abuse another by falling into fornication with them, as indeed, their Gentile neighbors are famous for doing in their own symposiums. Rather, the Thessalonians are to lead holy lives, controlling their sexual urges in honor of one another and the Lord who is the avenger of any who are exploited. For God has not called them to impurity but to holiness. Whoever rejects this is rejecting, not human authority, but God himself who has given his Holy Spirit to them. In addition, they are to continue in their expressions of love and concern for one another, not only within the Thessalonian congregation, but with the other sisters and brothers throughout Macedonia. No one congregation can live to itself alone but is a part of the whole. Consequently, they are to do “more and more” of what they are already doing. In addition, aspire to live quietly, mind your own affairs, work with your hand, behave properly with outsiders and be dependent on no one. This last sentence is not only instructive to the Thessalonians but also Paul describing his and his companion’s behavior as they carry out their missionary work.

Jesus turns to the question of the Messiah: How is it they say he is David’s son, when David himself, in Psalm 110:1 says, “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.’” If David calls the Messiah “my Lord,” how can he be David’s son? Jesus is claiming more for the Messiah than simply a return to Davidic rule—the Messiah is also “the Lord.” They, of course, miss it altogether. And so, Jesus turns to the crowd and warns them of the avarice of the scribes—those who are the interpreters of the Law and who love to be honored and recognized, yet devour widow’s houses and, for the sake of appearances say long prayers. The condemnation is leveled amid the scribes themselves and in the temple, a place intended to extend God’s merciful and gracious presence but which, under the religious authorities’ leadership, has become corrupt. Luke uses a well-known incident, the story of the widow who gives her last two copper coins here, as an illustration not of stewardship, as it is so often interpreted, but of the temple’s corruption under the religious leaders’ influence. The temple treasury makes no exceptions and takes the widow’s last two copper pennies regardless of that fact that she has nothing more. Notice that in this usage, Jesus’ comment that she has put in all she has to live on is not a commendation of her, but a judgment on the temple establishment. The system is abusing the very ones who should be the recipients of its expressions of God’s care.

Posted December 5, 2014
Thursday, December 4, 2014

Thursday, December 4, 2014
Isaiah 2:12-22; Psalm 18:1-20; 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13; Luke 20:27-40

Isaiah challenges the people of Jacob, the Northern Kingdom, for their “high and mighty” attitude. Their haughty eyes shall be brought low on that day when the Lord alone will be exalted. The Lord of Hosts has appointed a day against the proud and lofty. Isaiah goes on to identify the places and things that have become Judah’s pride: the cedars of Lebanon, the oaks of Bashan, the mountain and hills that offer defense, the high towers and fortified city walls, the ships that engage in commerce with far-away cities like Tarshish. All of that, as well as the people, will be brought low, and only the Lord will be exalted. Isaiah warns the people to search out and enter caves in the rocks or holes in the ground for protection from the Lord’s terror that will be unleashed. For the Lord is going to rise in the glory of his majesty to terrify the earth. On that day, people with throw away to the rodents their precious idols in an attempt to disassociate from them. They will enter caverns and hide on clefts of crags to be sheltered from the Lord’s terror. The oracle ends with a warning to turn away from mortals and to the Lord, for mortals have nothing more than breath in their nostrils; what are they?

Psalm 18:1-20 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 of chaos. Remember, at this stage, Israel was not monotheistic, but monolatrous—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.

The silence in Corinth about the state of things in Thessalonica was more than Paul could bear. What had happened to this infant church that he, Timothy and Silvanus had founded but were so soon thereafter forced to leave? He describes how they sent Timothy, their co-worker, for God in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, to strengthen and encourage them in their persecutions. (Some ancient manuscripts describe Timothy as “God’s co-worker” and others still, “God’s servant,” revealing the import of Timothy in the missionary team.) Paul reminds them that, from the beginning, he had warned them that such persecution was to come. Paul does not elaborate on the nature of the persecution. Is it the persecution he experienced when they drove him out of the city that still clings to the infant church? Is it other alienation and hardship they are experiencing because they have become Christian and therefore are living differently than their Hellenistic neighbors? Is it the persecutions that are to come as the day of the Lord approaches? We do not know. All Paul tells us is that his concern is that somehow the tempter might have tempted the Thessalonians so that the missionary effort among them was in vain and had failed. But now Timothy has returned with the good news of their faith and love. Timothy has told them that the Thessalonians always remember Paul and his colleagues kindly and long to see them as well. The news that the Thessalonians continue to stand firm in the Lord has sustained Paul and Silvanus in their own distress and persecution which causes Paul to ask how it is possible to thank God enough for all of this. Night and day they continue to pray most earnestly that the three of them can return to Thessalonica to see the brothers and sisters there, face to face. At this, Paul breaks into a prayer of blessing, as will be his custom in other letters when filled with joy or receiving good news, asking that “our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you.” (Scholars point out that the verb used is third person singular rather than plural). And that the Lord make them increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as Paul and his partners abound in love for them. Finally, Paul asks that he (Father, Son, both?) so strengthen their hearts in holiness that they may be found blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. This is not only a strong word of blessing that will begin to take up a life of its own in blessing worshipping communities, it also reveals Paul’s emerging theology about the nature of the church and its call to “holiness,” with the better translation of “the saints” being “our Lord Jesus with his holy ones.”

The attempts to trap Jesus continue as some Sadducees, the religious party that did not believe in the resurrection because they could find no evidence of it in the Torah, set Jesus up with another impossible question, this one based upon the ancient practice of Levirate marriage. According to Torah, a woman whose husband died childless was to marry one of his brothers and have children through the brother in order to perpetuate her initial husband’s name and memory (Genesis 38:6-11; Deuteronomy 25:5; Ruth 3:9-4:10). Consequently the question: whose wife will she be in the resurrection? It is not simply a reductio ad absurdum question, it is the Sadducees way of arguing against the logic of the resurrection. Jesus responds that marriage is a reality in this life, but in the one to come there is no need for it. Why? Because they are all like angels (notice they are not angels, but like angels) who never die, and are eternal children of God as children of the resurrection. Jesus has stepped out of the absurd trap but does not stop there. Instead, he quotes one of the most important texts in Torah—God giving his name to Moses at the burning bush—when God identifies himself as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob (all verbs present tense) meaning he is the God not of the dead but of the living, “for to him all of them are alive.” At this the scribes are further astonished at his teaching and no longer dare to ask him questions.

Posted December 4, 2014
Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Isaiah 2:1-11; Psalm 14; 1 Thessalonians 2:13-20; Luke 20:19-26

Isaiah has a vision of Jerusalem as the center of the universe; Zion, the mountain of the Lord’s house, established as the highest mountain. All the nations shall stream to it to worship in the temple and to learn the ways of the Lord, and to walk in his paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the word of the Lord, and he shall judge between the nations and arbitrate for many people. The familiar theme of universal peace is portrayed by the people beating their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks with no more need for war. This same oracle is quoted by Micah (4:1-3), causing scholars to believe that both Isaiah and Micah, whose preaching spans approximately the same time period, are quoting a well-known oracle of the day about Jerusalem. Then Isaiah turns to call on the people to “walk in the light of the Lord!” For, they have forsaken the ways of their people. The House of Jacob is filled with diviners, soothsayers and other religious forms of behavior abhorrent to the Lord. They clasp hands with foreigners (a reference to business or perhaps even intermarriage), renouncing responsibility for the poor among them and exalting in their riches. They fill the land with idols and bow down to the works of their hands. Consequently, the land and people are brought low. A warning is sounded: “enter the rock and hide in the dust,” for the terror of the Lord is coming from his majesty.

Psalm 14 is a condemnation of those who say, “There is no God,” who as a result are both corrupt and lack any moral compass whatsoever. Thinking themselves wise in their own eyes, they are fools. There are fewer strong words of personal condemnation in the Old Testament than “fool!” It is, in wisdom literature, the term for the “empty-headed” but it is less about thoughtless, imprudent behavior than about the orientation of one’s life. Though, in this psalm, the “fool” is defined as those who say there is no God, this is less a question about whether or not there is a god, than the question of whether a god even cares. After all, they are corrupt and do abominable deeds; there is no one who does good. It is one of the earliest affirmations of what will come to be known in reformed theology as “total depravity.” But the Lord looks down from heaven on humankind to see if there are any who are wise. The verdict is “No!” All have gone astray; all are perverse; no one does good. They have no knowledge (here, more about relationship with God than information about God), fail to call upon him, and eat up God’s people as though they were bread. The psalm now describes their fate: they shall be in great terror, for God is with the company of the righteous. Those who would confuse and abuse the poor should know that the Lord is the refuge of the poor; in abusing them, they abuse God. The psalm ends with a plea that deliverance for Israel will come from the Lord with the acknowledgment that, when that does occur and the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, Jacob will rejoice. Notice that nowhere in this psalm is the Lord addressed. Rather, this seems to be a psalm intended to drive home the conviction that God is looking, God does care, and God will act against those who, in their wickedness, abuse the poor and fail to recognize, much less, serve the Lord. The conviction is repeated, virtually verbatim in Psalm 53.

Paul rejoices that when the Thessalonians heard the word of God from them that they accepted it, not as a human word but as what it really is, “God’s word, which is also at work in you believers.” Thus emerges one of Paul’s main themes that we will hear about in all of his letters. The gospel is the very word of God, the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16). The witness of that is that the Thessalonians became imitators of the church of God in Christ Jesus in Judea, suffering the same thing from their Jewish compatriots as the believers in Judea suffered from the Jews there. (Remember, Paul is a Jew; this is a criticism of his beloved people not a demonization of them.) They killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets and have driven Paul and his compatriots out, and displease God by opposing and attempting to hinder them from speaking to the Gentiles so that they too may be saved. (Is this a criticism of the church in Jerusalem rather than Jews who have not embraced Jesus as Messiah?) Paul speaks of God’s wrath having overtaken them at last, or, does he mean “completely” or “forever” as the footnotes suggest? Returning to his theme, Paul remembers, together with them, the short time they were in Thessalonica before being driven out and how he and the others became “orphans” by being separated from them. How quickly they became family among one another. Paul then quickly adds separated “in person, not in heart” and reminds them of how they have longed to see the Thessalonians. Paul has wanted to return but Satan has blocked the way. Nonetheless, the Thessalonians are dear to him, so much so that, at the Lord’s coming, they will be Paul’s hope, joy and crown.

Enraged at Jesus’ allegations against them and unable to discredit him religiously, the religious leaders set out to trap him so that they can hand him over to the authorities. They send spies who pretend to be honest, to ask questions that will ensnare Jesus. Addressing him as “Teacher,” rather than “Rabbi,” they ask him if it is lawful to pay taxes to the emperor or not? Rome required such a tribute—one denarius, a day’s wage—from each adult male annually. Though the tax was not a burdensome amount, it was despised because it reminded every Jewish male of his and the nation’s subjugation by Rome. If Jesus says “Yes,” he will be discredited with the people. However, the tribute was collected by Jewish authorities from the temple, so the question sets Jesus up into a double bind, disavowing both Rome and the temple authorities. They have Jesus exactly where they want him—he cannot win. Jesus, of course, knows precisely what they are up to and asks them to show him the denarius. “Whose head and whose title does it bear?” The coin bore the stamp of the image of the emperor Tiberius and the inscription: “Tiberius Caesar, son of the divine Augustus.” Jesus’ famous answer, “Then give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s and to God the things that are God’s,” leaves them not only dumbfounded, but once again bested by Jesus and humiliated before the crowds.

Posted December 3, 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