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Monday, April 28, 2008

Easter Seven, 2008

Lexegete™ | Year A | Matthew

May 4, 2008
Acts 1:6-14
Psalm 68:1-10, 32-25 (4)
1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11
John 17:1-11

la. CONTEXT: John 17:1-11

The seventeenth chapter of John, from which today's Gospel is taken, is
traditionally described as Jesus' "high-priestly prayer." It is no longer
possible for schlars to regard it, with Archbishop Temple, as "the most
sacred passage even in the four Gospels--the record of the Lord's prayer of
self-dedication as it lived in the memory and imagination of His most
intimate friend, "or, with Archbishop Bernard, as "the substance of sacred
intercessions preserved for half a century in the memory of a disciple."
The prayer is rather an epitome of Johannine thought about the work of
Christ and his relationship to the Father; almost every verse contains
echoes of the Farewell Discourses which precede it.

The eleven verses appointed for today's Gospel include Jesus' address to
the Father and the first part of his prayer for his followers. In vss. 1-5 he
reports to the Father that he has completed the work assigned to him and
asks to be glorified once more with the glory that was his "before the
world was made." In vss. 6-11 he defines his completed work more
exactly: he has made the Father's name known to those whom the Father
has given him "out of the world," and has entrusted them with the words of
truth. He prays for these disciples that they may be protected from "the
world" and that they may live together in a unity similar to and based on
that of the Father and the Son.

The prayers of Jesus are mentioned frequently in the Synoptic Gospels,
but we are only occasionally informed of their contents; the notable
exceptions are the prayers in Gethsemane and those from the Cross. The
prayer in John 17 is a summary of Johannine theology relative to the work
of Christ: almost every verse contains echoes and allusions to what has
gone before.

lb. TEXT: John 17:1-11


17:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.

1ταυτα ελαλησεν ιησους, και επαρας τους οφθαλμους αυτου εις τον ουρανον ειπεν, πατερ, εληλυθεν η ωρα: δοξασον σου τον υιον, ινα ο υιος δοξαση σε, 2καθως εδωκας αυτω εξουσιαν πασης σαρκος, ινα παν ο δεδωκας αυτω δωση αυτοις ζωην αιωνιον. 3αυτη δε εστιν η αιωνιος ζωη, ινα γινωσκωσιν σε τον μονον αληθινον θεον και ον απεστειλας ιησουν χριστον. 4εγω σε εδοξασα επι της γης, το εργον τελειωσας ο δεδωκας μοι ινα ποιησω: 5και νυν δοξασον με συ, πατερ, παρα σεαυτω τη δοξη η ειχον προ του τον κοσμον ειναι παρα σοι. 6εφανερωσα σου το ονομα τοις ανθρωποις ους εδωκας μοι εκ του κοσμου. σοι ησαν καμοι αυτους εδωκας, και τον λογον σου τετηρηκαν. 7νυν εγνωκαν οτι παντα οσα δεδωκας μοι παρα σου εισιν: 8οτι τα ρηματα α εδωκας μοι δεδωκα αυτοις, και αυτοι ελαβον και εγνωσαν αληθως οτι παρα σου εξηλθον, και επιστευσαν οτι συ με απεστειλας. 9εγω περι αυτων ερωτω: ου περι του κοσμου ερωτω αλλα περι ων δεδωκας μοι, οτι σοι εισιν, 10και τα εμα παντα σα εστιν και τα σα εμα, και δεδοξασμαι εν αυτοις. 11και ουκετι ειμι εν τω κοσμω, και αυτοι εν τω κοσμω εισιν, καγω προς σε ερχομαι. πατερ αγιε, τηρησον αυτους εν τω ονοματι σου ω δεδωκας μοι, ινα ωσιν εν καθως ημεις.

2. ANALYSIS: John 17:1-11

John 17:l - tauta elaleisen Iesous - "These things" refers back to the
discourse of chapters 13-16, and especially to the concluding words: ego
nenikeika ton kosmon.

pater-- "Father" is the most characteristic term for God in the Fourth
Gospel, occurring 115 times, compared with 73 instances of theos and only
one of kurios (in 12:13, quoting Ps. 118:25f. ).

It is striking that neither "Our Father" nor "Father in the heavens" appears.
There can be no doubt that this reflects, at whatever great remove, the
actual practice of Jesus (cf. Mark, 14:36; Luke 11:2; Romans 8:15,
Galatians 4:6).

eleluthen he hora - The opening words of the prayer place it in context of
fulfillment; as in 12:23, the hour so long anticipated (2:4; 7:6,8,30;8:20)
has now arrived and is the hour of the Son's glorification. It is also the
hour of his death, in which his work will be consummated by the voluntary
sacrifice of his life for the salvation of the world.

doxason sou ton huion (cf. 12:23;13:l,31). The glory of the Son is the
consequence of his obedience to the Father, but it should not be understood
as a reward for virtue. The glorification of the Son is for the glorification
of the Father.

hina ho huios doxasei se - Jesus does not ask to be glorified BECAUSE he
has glorified the Father, but IN ORDER THAT he may glorify the Father.

17:2 - edokas auto exousian padeis sarkos - Note the striking parallel in
Mt. 28:18 - edothe moi pasa exousia en ourano kai epi teis geis

17:3 - aute de estin he aionios zoe hina ginoskosin se ton monon alethinon
theon kai hon apesteilas Iesoun Christon - John makes the definition of
eternal life an integral part of the prayer by inserting se before ton
monon alethinon theon. "Life" is a major theme of the Gospel (cf. 1:4;
3:15). By zoe aionios John does not mean this earthly life indefinitely
prolonged, but a life which has neither past nor future, but is lived in
"God's eternal To-day" (C.H. Dodd): life WITH God.

17:4 - ego se edoxasa epi teis geis to ergon teleiosas ho dedokas moi hina
poieso - The participle telesiosas is circumstantial; the context demands
the translation BY HAVING COMPLETED. C.K. Barrett notes that teleiosas
not only "looks back upon the completed life of Jesus," but probably also
looks forward to his death (cf. 19:30-tetelestai).

17:5 - kai nun doxasan me su, pater, para seauto tei doxe he eichon pro tou
ton kosmon sinai para soi - The glory for which Jesus prays is that which
is proper to the place and authoriety he held before the Incarnation.

17:6 - Ephanerosa sou to onoma - Revealing the "name" of God means
revealing God's nature and character .

soi eisan kamoi autous edokas - The disciples belonged to the Father
from the beginning: he predestined them to be his children. John makes it
very clear that the right to become a child of God can be given only by God;
it has nothing to do with human virtue (1:12). Sonship is a gift from God,
made possible by his Son Jesus. Rebirth as a child of God is not earned; it
comes by water and the Spirit (3:5). No one can come to Jesus unless the
Father draws him (6:44); here should be noticed especially 14:6 --oudeis
erchetai pros ton patera ei me di emou - Those who choose Christ have in
fact already been chosen by him (15:16). This predestinarian language is
somewhat mitigated by the belief that Jesus came to take away the sin of
"the world" (1:29), and that he will not reject anyone who comes to him

17:8 - hoti ta remata a edokas moi dedoka autois, kai autoi elabon kai
egnosan alethos hoti para sou exelthon, kai episteusan hoti su me
apesteilas - The disciples know the truth only because Jesus has revealed
it to them. The logos (vs. 6) which they have kept was delivered to them
by Jesus in numerous sayings (remata) during his incarnate life among
them. In these sayings they have also found knowledge (egnosan alethos
hoti para sou exelthon) and faith (episteusan hoti su me apesteilas) that
the one who has come was indeed sent by the Father.

17:9 - Ego peri auton eroto, ou peri tou kosmou eroto--The word order
indicates the emphasis: Jesus prays for the disciples, not for the world.

The only hope for the "world" (kosmos) is to be transformed into the
Church, the community of Jesus.

17:10 - ta ema panta sa estin kai ta sa ema - It is not only the disciples
who belong to both the Father and the Son: the Father and the Son have ALL
THINGS in common; they are therefore equal (cf. 10:30).

17:11 - kai ouketi eimi en to kosmo, kai autoi en to kosmo eisin, kago pros
se erchomai. pater agie, tereson autous en to onomati sou ho dedokas moi,
hina osin en kathos hemeis - Jesus refers to his approaching passion as
"coming to the Father;" the disciples are to be left in the world in the
position Jesus once occupied: it is now their task to be God's witnesses in
the world and to endure the world's enmity. They will be enabled to do so
by the aid of the Holy Spirit (14:16; 15:26); by the mediation of the Son
they too will at last "come to the Father" (14:6).

3. STRATEGY: John 17:1-11

Although the end of the Easter is near, it is appropriate to stress this
Gospel lesson's treatment of Eternal Life, which, as we have noted, is of
central interest to the Fourth Evangelist.

Eternal Life, as we read in vs. 3 means knowing God and his Son, Jesus
Christ. The sort of "knowing referred to here is not theological
knowledlge of mystical wisdom, it is PERSONAL ACQUAINTANCE. We all
know how personal acquaintance with loving, caring people can enrich our
lives: personal acquaintance with God, who is infinitely caring and
infinitely loving, will enrich our lives infinitely. Eternal life is life LIVED
with God ;and his Son; as the Son is united to the Father, so the disciples
are united to the Son and to each other in order that they may continue his
work---now that he has "gone to the Father." The work of the Son is, to be
sure, complete, but the revelation of this fact is the task of the disciples.
They can accomplish this task because they do not (and must not) depend
on their own strength alone, but on the might of the Father who sends them
the new Comforter or Strengthener, the Holy Spirit.

4. REFERENCES: John 17:1-11


ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1928, repr. 1949,v.II.

University Press, 1953.

University Press, 1963.

Hoskyns, E.D. THE FOURTH GOSPEL, ed. by F.N. Davey. London: Faber and
Faber, 1947.

Howard, W.F. and Gossip, A.J. THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN, in THE
INTERPRETER'S BIBLE, vol. 8. New York: Abingdon Press, 1952.

Epworth, 1955.

Lightfoot, R.H. ST. JOHN'S GOSPEL: A COMMENTARY . Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1956.

Temple, William. READINGS IN ST. JOHN'S GOSPEL. London: MacMillan,

5. MUSIC SUGGESTIONS: John 17:1-11

In the Episcopal Hymnal 1982 a number of hymns have emphases
consonant with those of John 17:1-11. GIVE PRAISE AND GLORY UNTO GOD
(HB375) echoes vss. l and 4; AT THE NAME OF JESUS EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW
(HB 435, LBW 179) reminds us of the adoration due to Jesus because of his
glorification by the Father; SPREAD O SPREAD THOU MIGHTY WORD (HB
530, LBW 379) recalls the disciples' duty committed to them by the Risen
Lord; O SPIRIT OF THE LIVING GOD (HB 531,LBW 388) asks for strength to
fulfill the disciples' duty; ETERNAL RULER OF THE CEASELESS ROUND (HB
617,LBW 373) speaks of life with God in Christ.

Exegete: Eugene V.N. Goetchius, Ph.D., Th.D. was Professor Emeritus of the New Testament and Biblical Languages, and Lecturer in Greek at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His publications include: The Language of the New Testament. New York: Charles Schribner's Sons, 1965.




Dartmouth,MA 02747


Monday, April 14, 2008


Lexegete™ | Year A


April 20, 2008

Acts 7:55-60
Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16 (5)
1 Peter 2:2-10
John 14:1-14


1a. CONTEXT: JOHN 14:1-14

The lessons for the Easter season model and recreate the experience of
discovering the Risen Jesus. We move from finding the empty tomb (Easter
Vigil, and Easter Sunday), to seeing Jesus among us (2 & 3 Easter), to a
basic appreciation of the continuing presence of the Risen Lord (4 & 5
Easter), to the reality that Jesus lives in and through a community that
draws all people to God (6, 7 Easter and Ascension). Far from observing
the resurrection of Our Lord from afar, in the Easter season, we
participate in it. (See also Adrian Nocent, OSB, The Liturgical Year, Vol. 3:
The Easter Season, Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1977. Pp. 146-150
and p. 205 ff. )

The Gospel for today is part of this unfolding reality of resurrected life.
Although it may sound disjointed on first hearing some phrases will
undoubtedly catch the attention of both hearer and preacher: verse 6 "I am
the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me."
Many of us can recite this by heart, and we can easily count the times this
phrase appears in tracts and billboards.

A further 'hook' for both hearer and preacher is the fact that part (v. 1-12)
of this lesson is a proper for the funeral liturgies in both BCP and LBW
with the reference (v. 2-3) concerning 'rooms' in the Father's house. For
many this paints a picture of a heavenly home waiting for the deceased.
Though rooted in our tradition in the doctrine of Christian hope, the
popular picture may avert our attention from the presence of Christ now to
a picture that does dirt to both tradition and doctrine.

A third issue for hearer and preacher arises out of vv. 13-14: whatever we
ask in Jesus' name we will get. Sounds easy and, perhaps, magical? The
truth of this pericope lies at the heart of John's high Christology-- with
its equally high calling to all believers. These pictures expose the
preacher to the possibility of distraction from the evangelists intent and
the congregations needs. The struggle between the easy, familiar
interpretations of scripture and a true meeting of Jesus as the Christ is at
the heart of the Gospel of John.

1b. TEXT: JOHN 14:1-14

ESV Bible:

I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life

14:1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; [1] believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? [2] 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” [3] 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. [4] From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me [5] anything in my name, I will do it.

[1] 14:1 Or You believe in God
[2] 14:2 Or In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so,
I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you
[3] 14:4 Some manuscripts Where I am going you know, and the way you know
[4] 14:7 Or If you know me, you will know my Father also, or If you have known me, you will know my Father also
[5] 14:14 Some manuscripts omit me

Greek Text:

1μη ταρασσεσθω υμων η καρδια: πιστευετε εις τον θεον, και εις εμε πιστευετε. 2εν τη οικια του πατρος μου μοναι πολλαι εισιν: ει δε μη, ειπον αν υμιν οτι πορευομαι ετοιμασαι τοπον υμιν; 3και εαν πορευθω και ετοιμασω τοπον υμιν, παλιν ερχομαι και παραλημψομαι υμας προς εμαυτον, ινα οπου ειμι εγω και υμεις ητε. 4και οπου [εγω] υπαγω οιδατε την οδον. 5λεγει αυτω θωμας, κυριε, ουκ οιδαμεν που υπαγεις: πως δυναμεθα την οδον ειδεναι; 6λεγει αυτω [ο] ιησους, εγω ειμι η οδος και η αληθεια και η ζωη: ουδεις ερχεται προς τον πατερα ει μη δι εμου. 7ει εγνωκατε με, και τον πατερα μου γνωσεσθε: και απ αρτι γινωσκετε αυτον και εωρακατε αυτον. 8λεγει αυτω φιλιππος, κυριε, δειξον ημιν τον πατερα, και αρκει ημιν. 9λεγει αυτω ο ιησους, τοσουτω χρονω μεθ υμων ειμι και ουκ εγνωκας με, φιλιππε; ο εωρακως εμε εωρακεν τον πατερα: πως συ λεγεις, δειξον ημιν τον πατερα; 10ου πιστευεις οτι εγω εν τω πατρι και ο πατηρ εν εμοι εστιν; τα ρηματα α εγω λεγω υμιν απ εμαυτου ου λαλω: ο δε πατηρ εν εμοι μενων ποιει τα εργα αυτου. 11πιστευετε μοι οτι εγω εν τω πατρι και ο πατηρ εν εμοι: ει δε μη, δια τα εργα αυτα πιστευετε. 12αμην αμην λεγω υμιν, ο πιστευων εις εμε τα εργα α εγω ποιω κακεινος ποιησει, και μειζονα τουτων ποιησει, οτι εγω προς τον πατερα πορευομαι: 13και ο τι αν αιτησητε εν τω ονοματι μου τουτο ποιησω, ινα δοξασθη ο πατηρ εν τω υιω: 14εαν τι αιτησητε με εν τω ονοματι μου εγω ποιησω.

2. ANALYSIS: JOHN 14:1-14

The passage contains four distinct pieces: 14:1-6; 7-11; 12; 13-14.
John has a tendency to overlap sections, (Anchor Bible, volume 29A, The
Gospel of John, page 623) so 13-14 both ends this pericope and begins the
next, about the Paraclete. I divide the passage into sections for reasons of
structure, as follows:


A "Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me"

B A place will be prepared: Many rooms (v.2), I go and will return (v.3),
You know the way (v. 4).

C Thomas: We don't where you are going, how can we know the way?(5)

D I am the way, the truth and the life.(6)


D' If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.(7)

C' Philip: Show us the Father, then we'll be satisfied.(8)

B' Have I been with you so long…?(9)…the Father dwells in me
does his works.(10)

A' Believe me because I am in the Father and the Father in me
or believe me because of the
works themselves.(11)

Jesus is leaving; what will become of the disciples? At the time of
the final redaction of John, if Brown's or Martyn's reconstruction of the
Johaninne church is at all realistic, the question is more accurately what
is to become of the church in the face of expulsion from the Jewish
community and in the face of the non-return of the Messiah? Expectation
for a return of the Messiah becomes, in light of the high Christology of the
later John, an understanding of the Christ present in the church. John's
assurance to the church is that as Jesus and the Father are one, so also,
through Christ are God and the church one. The sign that Jesus will still
be present even in his 'absence' is belief: "Believe in God…also in me" (1)
and "Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me…" (11). So the
first two sections are built very carefully to express this.

John 14:2 - en te oikia tou patro mou monai pollai eisin -- Remiscent of
synoptic images of the banquet or messianic feast, this promises a reunion
between Jesus and his followers. The King James rendering of "mansions"
is wrong. I am not sure what a mansion meant to Tyndale or to James I's
translators, but the image is misleading today. monai is better
understood as abode, dwelling place. Schoenfeld's (The Original New
Testament, New York: Harper and Row, 1985) rendering of this as
'apartments' may be accurate but brings to mind huge blocks of heavenly
Section 8 apartment buildings! The sense is not of a temporary shelter or
way-station, either, but a home. The dwelling place (like banquet images
elsewhere) is an image of intimate life with God and in Christ.

14:6 legei auto he Iesous: Ego eimi he hodos kai he 'aletheia kai 'he zoe
oudeis 'erchetai pros ton patera ei' me di emou. The way (hodos) is
understood in the sense of a road or thoroughfare. The Evangelist is not
mixing metaphors between dwellings and roads, rather he showing us how
Jesus can both come and go to the Father and bring us along with him. The
'way', or road, into the messianic fellowship (be it a dwelling or a banquet)
is through Christ. Perhaps this word was a way of John's orthodox
community identifying itself with the rest of the Christian church? (cf.
Brown, The Community of the Beloved Disciple, New York: Paulist Press,
1979) The early Christians, like the followers of John the Baptist and
those at Qumran, saw themselves as living in 'the Way'. For John, what is
the way? To know the Christ (John 20:30-31).

'The way, the truth and the life' are not in sequence or separate concepts,
but expanding and built on each other. If to 'know' the Christ is to be
transformed, than truly Jesus is the 'way' in the sense of beginning a
journey. The 'truth' brings a changed perspective on ourselves, God and the
world. The 'life' is both eternal life and a changed one as we seek to be
like Jesus in faithfulness and obedience. If one looks at this passage as
perhaps St. Benedict might have, from the stand point of a rule-- a
disciplined map-- of life, we see how both the Evangelist and Jesus were
concerned for transformation of the person for God.

Thomas' and Philip's questions bring us back to our own situation as well
as to the Gospel's setting for the discourse (the Last Supper). They
sandwich the basic question for John: How do we (in more Synoptic
language) "inherit the Kingdom"? How do we know the Father? To be
shown the Father will not "suffice", as Philip and we think. In John's view,
seeing God in Jesus Christ will draw us more deeply into the 'way', which
will change our lives. So the Evangelist answers Philip's question about
'seeing' (and 'knowing') before he asks it, to move us into a discussion of
what that life will be like.

14:11 pisteuete moi hoti 'ego eu to patri kai ho pater eu 'emo. ei de me,
dia ta ' erga auta pisteuete. Brown: "Real belief in the works involves
the ability to understand their role as signs…." The works reveal that
Jesus is in the Father and the Father in Jesus. Rather than a distiction
between knowing Jesus' identity with God and seeing Jesus' works, as
implied in the English, the things Jesus do are a sign-- a sacrament-- of
Jesus' relationship to God. Jesus' oneness with God is both self-evident to
those who have eyes to see, and shown-off by what Jesus does.

But as the next section shows us, the Evangelist clearly thinks that Jesus
is not the only one who shows-off a relationship to God:

A He who believes in me (12a)

B will also do the works that I do (12b)

B' greater works than these will he do (12c)

A' because I go to the Father. (12d)

Verse 12 takes us from belief to power. Through Christ, humanity is
united with God which enables the Christian to share in the power Jesus
has. Jesus going to the Father is linked with our believing in Jesus.
Frequently, in the Synoptic tradition the works of the disciples after the
resurrection are like the miracles of Jesus himself; for John, there is no
list of marvelous works at our disposal. The 'work' ( erga) is to draw
people to God, as Jesus does; to be expressions of God, as Jesus is. In
other words, to show the way is by being on the way.

4. a Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, (13a)

b that the Father may be glorified in the Son (13b)

a' if you (me) ask anything in my name, I will do it. (14)

Because Jesus and God the Father are one, as we become one with Jesus (or
as the Evangelist might say "know that Jesus is the Christ"!) we will
become one with God. The effect of this is that our will and spirit become
conformed to God's. So the effect of this is a two-way street: as we
become conformed to Christ, we ask and recieve what we ask; on the other
hand, Jesus works through us as we grow in Christ. John Climacus is
quoted in Esther deWaal's Seeking God: "God gives prayer to the man who

3. STRATEGY: JOHN 14:1-14

There are, as I have already noted, three possible 'booby-traps' both for the
hearer and the preacher in this gospel-text: the image of
mansions/houses/rooms in heaven; "I am the way"; and "Whatever you
ask…I will do". Fortunately, the most common misconceptions surrounding
these passages do have a base in Christian theology. The image of
mansions in our Father's house does generally point to the fact that God is
bringing all things to completion. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life,
by breaking down the barriers between ourselves and God. And we can
expect have done what we pray, as we live in conformity with the mind of
Christ as we grow in maturity with him among his people. So the preacher
does not have to fight the images we already have, so much as use them as
keys into a deeper understanding of Jesus' and John's message to the

The funeral liturgy could be a way into the passage--even during
Eastertide, perhaps especially just now! The picture of rooms or mansions
can be turned from a romantic reasurrance to an image of power by noting
that the room was prepared for us on the cross, was given to us at our
baptisms and we live in it now just as surely as we will after we have

There are many connections with the second lesson. I Peter 2:1-10
presents several coresponding images to the Gospel: putting away all
malice and nurturing in the life of Christ (I Peter 2:1-3) to knowing Jesus
as the way (John 14:4,6); Peter's spiritual house (oike) and John's mona^
--both being in and living in Christ; John's "works" (14:11b, 12) and the
priesthood described in I Peter 2:4-6-- both declaring the "wonderous
deed of him who called you out of darkness" (I Peter 2:9).

As I have said, I think a key to understanding of John's gospel is
understanding 14:6 both as a Christological affirmation and as way of life
to be put on. "The NT thought of Jesus as truth revealed. His resurrection
became the principle clue through which all other truths were to be
grasped and clarified." (Thomas C. Oden, Pastoral Theology: Essentials of
Ministry, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1983.) And that discovery leads to
a new pattern of life in intimate relation to God through Christ Jesus.
Archbishop Ramsey said, "The whole Jesus demands the whole man." Jesus
is not only is the way, the truth, the life-- but our way, our truth, our
life. How that unfolds for us is the wonder of real life made holy in Jesus


Paulist Press, 1979.

______________. THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN. Anchor Bible, vol.
29A. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1970.

Nocent, Adrian,OSB. THE LITURGICAL YEAR. Volume 3: Easter Season.
Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1977.

Oden, Thomas. PASTORAL THEOLOGY. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1983.

Schoenfeld, H. THE ORIGINAL NEW TESTAMENT. New York: Harper and Row,


Thou art the Way (LBW 464, HB 457)

Christ is Made the Sure Foundation (LBW 367, HB 518)

Jesus Shall Reign ( LBW 530, HB 544)

Christ is Alive, Let Christians Sing (LBW 363, HB 182)

All Hail The Power of Jesus' Name (LBW 328/9, HB 450/l)

Exegete: Andrew T. Gerns, AOA (Associate, Order of the Ascension)
Rector, Trinity Episcopal Church, Easton, PA






Dartmouth,MA 02747


Monday, April 7, 2008




April 13, 2008

Acts 2:42-47

Psalm 23 (1)

1 Peter 2:19-25

John 10:1-10


l. CONTEXT: John 10:1-10

In this gospel lesson Jesus is depicted as the Good Shepherd, a theme
which became associated with the Easter season early in the life of the
Church. The association is apt for several reasons. First, this lesson is
part of Jesus' last public address, and hence part of the final spoken
revelation of who Jesus is, preparing his followers to understand the
events of Easter. Further, in vs. 11 Jesus foretells his death, "I am the
good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."
Finally, this text is appropriate for the Easter season because its imagery
is Old Testament imagery. The people of Israel are often referred to as
sheep, and God as their Good Shepherd. In particular, it is interesting to
note Numbers 27, in which Joshua (whose name is a variant of the name
Jesus) is appointed as a shepherd over the congregation of the Lord; and
Ezekiel 34, where God condemns false and negligent shepherds.

So on this Sunday we have a lesson that reveals who Jesus is; sets the
stage for a prophecy concerning His sacrificial, voluntary death; and points
to Jesus as the One who fulfills the Old Testament expectation and
understanding of God's Messiah.

1b. Text: John 10:1-10


I Am the Good Shepherd

10:1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.



1αμην αμην λεγω υμιν, ο μη εισερχομενος δια της θυρας εις την αυλην των προβατων αλλα αναβαινων αλλαχοθεν εκεινος κλεπτης εστιν και ληστης: 2ο δε εισερχομενος δια της θυρας ποιμην εστιν των προβατων. 3τουτω ο θυρωρος ανοιγει, και τα προβατα της φωνης αυτου ακουει, και τα ιδια προβατα φωνει κατ ονομα και εξαγει αυτα. 4οταν τα ιδια παντα εκβαλη, εμπροσθεν αυτων πορευεται, και τα προβατα αυτω ακολουθει, οτι οιδασιν την φωνην αυτου: 5αλλοτριω δε ου μη ακολουθησουσιν αλλα φευξονται απ αυτου, οτι ουκ οιδασιν των αλλοτριων την φωνην. 6ταυτην την παροιμιαν ειπεν αυτοις ο ιησους: εκεινοι δε ουκ εγνωσαν τινα ην α ελαλει αυτοις. 7ειπεν ουν παλιν ο ιησους, αμην αμην λεγω υμιν οτι εγω ειμι η θυρα των προβατων. 8παντες οσοι ηλθον [προ εμου] κλεπται εισιν και λησται: αλλ ουκ ηκουσαν αυτων τα προβατα. 9εγω ειμι η θυρα: δι εμου εαν τις εισελθη σωθησεται και εισελευσεται και εξελευσεται και νομην ευρησει. 10ο κλεπτης ουκ ερχεται ει μη ινα κλεψη και θυση και απολεση: εγω ηλθον ινα ζωην εχωσιν και περισσον εχωσιν. Online Text Copyright Info

Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition
© 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;

The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition
© 1975, United Bible Societies, London

2. ANALYSIS: John 10:1-10

Looking closely at these verses, the lesson divides into two sections:
vs. 1-5 The Parables, and vs. 6-10 The Reaction and Interpretation.

John 10:1- There is no introduction at the beginning of this chapter to
alert the reader to the occasion or the audience. It would seem logical,
then, that these verses continue from chapter 9. There, Jesus has been
addressing the religious leaders of His day. "Truly,truly..." This form of
speech is never used by the writer of John to introduce a new episode, but
rather marks a further interpretation or development of what has already
happened. These words, therefore, attach the discourse which follows
with the action in chapter 9. There, we read of a blind man who is healed
and who then understands who Jesus is, in contrast to the Pharisees who
know of Jesus and yet are blind to his identity. Now in chapter 10 we will
read of those who know their master's voice, in contrast to those who do
no understand.

10:1 - tein aulein- "sheepfold" - Probably refers to a courtyard for the
sheep adjacent to a house with a stone wall surrounding it and a single
gate in the wall for access to the sheepfold.

10:3 - exagei - "leads them out" - the verb also used in LXX Numbers 27
and Ez. 34.

10:4 - ekbalei - literally means "cast out" and may, according to Raymond
Brown, "Hint of the helplessness of the sheep. Sheep often have to be
pushed through a gate."

10:6 - A familiar lack of comprehension on the part of Jesus' hearers is
noted. "Figure" is a translation of the Greek "paroimian," which often
means proverb, and not the more commonly used "parabole." "Paroimia"
translates the Hebrew term which is used, "masal, which covers many
types of speech, from riddles to proverbs to parables.

10:7 - he thura ton probaton - Some commentators believe that the
imagery is of the shepherd's sleeping across the gate to guard his fold.
While he is the shepherd, he also acts as the gate, since it would be
necessary literally to cross him to enter or leave the fold. Some readers
may find it awkward to think of Jesus as both the Shepherd and the Door of
the Sheep.

It is helpful to keep in mind, as Morris points out, that Jesus also speaks
of being the bread of life and giving it (6:35,6:51), that He speaks the turth
and is the truth (8:45 and 14:6), and that throughout the Gospel Jesus
shows the way and is the way (14:6).

10:8 - This verse has caused difficulty because of the sweeping statement
that "all who came before" Jesus were thieves and robbers. One early
manuscript omits the word "all," several manuscripts omit the words
"before me." The word "all" is difficult in that there were prophets and
forerunners to Jesus who pointed to His identity and ministry in holy
ways. The words "before me" focus on Old Testament figures. By omitting
these words, the lesson of the parable is thought to be reinforced
since the condemnation can then apply to those who currently speak
against Jesus. However, with the complete text (probably correct as it
stands because of its difficulty) the exclusivity and uniqueness of Jesus'
identity is underlined.

10:9-10 - Jesus is the gate to salvation: "whoever enters by me will be
saved, and will og in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to
steal and kill and destroy, I am that they may have life, and have it
abundantly." (AILL) Instead of understanding Jesus only as the gate for
the true shepherds to use, the focus now is that Jesus is the gate for the
sheep to usel. This verse recalls John 14:6, "I am the way...No one comes
to the Father, but by me."

3. STRATEGY: John 10:1-10

Preaching on this text allows for many possibilities. First, there is the
strong distinction between those who hear Jesus' voice and know Him and
those who do not, a theme which builds on the events in chapter 9. There
is a vital connection between the believer and the risen Christ. Jesus
calls us to know and follow Him in all the comings and goings of our lives.
We are called to hear Jesus' voice, be led out by Him (and sometimes to be
pushed out, into those areas that we ourselves would hardly choose!) to
follow him.

Second, there is the possibility of preaching on the uniqueness of Jesus
Christ. He, and He alone, is the One who offers us life. He IS the way, the
truth, and the life. We cannot gain life by crawling over the wall (even the
wall that leads us into Church each Sunday), while avoiding the main
question of Christianity: Do we accept that this man is in truth the Son of
God; that he died and was risen, to rule with the Father and the Holy
Spirit? That question must be confronted and answered in our faith. We
must enter our faith through Jesus Christlll; there is no other door.

Third, the preacher may want to focus on those aspects of modern life
that come only "to steal and kill and destroy" although it may appear that
they have come to shepherd us with the same benevolence and hope of life
that Jesus brings. Our Easter faith is one that calls our eyes always to be
focussed on the Cross--now empty and victorious. Nothing else can give
us life, no matter how much we believe it may.

In preaching, liturgical celebrations, and selection of hymns, the pastor
is called to continue the great celebration of the Fifty Days of Easter, and
to fill this Sunday with joy and alleluias. The theme of the Good Shepherd
lends itself to this celebration, since Jesus is the One who leads us to
green pastures, who protectsand guides and gives his life for us. This good
news should lbe celebrated strongly.

A children's sermon using this lesson is appropriate. The vivid imageof
a wolf in sheep's clothing versus the true and kind Shepherd is one that
capture a child's imagination. A brief game of "Simon says" can very
effectively point out how we follow; and the lesson that Jesus calls us to
follow Him only in those things that are GOOD is easily drawn, bringing to
life the relational qualities of our faith with Jesus Christ.

4. REFERENCES: John 10:1-10

Brown, Raymond. THE GOSPEL ACC. TO JOHN (I-XII). Garden City,NY:
Doubleday, 1985.

Craddock, Fred B. JOHN. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1982.

Lightfoot, R.H. ST. JOHN'S GOSPEL: A COMMENTARY. Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1972.

Morris, Leon. THE GOSPEL ACC. TO JOHN. Grand Rapids,MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans
Publishing Co., 1971.

5. MUSIC SUGGESTIONS: John 10:1-10

There are several paraphrases of Psalm 23 that have been set to music
for congregational singing which would be appropriate in conjunction with
this lesson. Perhaps the best known in The Hymnal 1982 is 645, St.
Columba. Also note, however, hymns HB 663 and 664 (cf. LBW 456,45l and
48l). An interesting variation is to use the tune AMAZING GRACE, but
singing the text to THE LORD'S MY SHEPHERD, I'LL NOT WANT (Scottish
Psalter, 1650), usually set to the tune CRIMOND. One version is found in
HB 663. Using LBW 45l (Tune: Brother James' Air), simply drop the third
line of each verse in order to use this text.

The theme of God's leading us is found in HB 703, LEAD US O FATHER IN THE
PATHS OF PEACE ; and a children's hymn on God's care is HB 708, SAVIOR
(LBW 507 ) is appropriate for celebrating Jesus' acting as the Good
Shepherd, guiding and protecting his people.

Exegete: Rev. Ann Brewster Glenn




Dartmouth,MA 02747


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Are Lutherans Happy?

They are??? If so, it's likely because they're parents or because they're
right of center, according to Arthur C. Brooks in GROSS NATIONAL HAPPINESS
(© 2008) .

I've been wondering about all this ever since the linguist George Lakoff (UC,
Berkeley) started ranting about the role of "strict fathers" and "nutturant parents" in some of his popular books on philosophy and politics (Philosophy in the Flesh, Don't Think of an Elephant, and THINKING POINTS)....

Comes now our Mr. Brooks to turn the Lakoff Hypothesis on its head ,
throw in a good dose of "victim mentality, and then come to the
odd conclusion that Conservatives have the upper hand
[ even Between Hilli and Obi !!! ]
by dint of their being HAPPY, and not even by dint of being "Rich"--whatever that means !?

But wait, there's hope for us Obedient Rebels! Although we know we're SPOSED TO
BE "Moderates," we also have been taught to Love our Enemies....thus there are
Lutheran outliers, people who look superficially conservative, but may in fact harbor hope of a more radical METANOIA/TURN in American and global politics, one which more closely resemble the Hebrew prophets than the Pop Evangelicals. The current R.I. Debate over Immigration is an incarnation of just this moral "Surge."

Before Martin Marty [another outlier] deconstructs all of this just one more
time for good measure, let me go on record by saying I think philosophically like an Orthodox Rabbi who suffers paradoxes happily: Brooks probably has it sorta right, but so does Lakoff along with people like Brian MacLaren, Diana Butler Bass, even Marcus Borg and the whole panpoly of cool CATS (Change Agent Trinitarians) who are running around the country from pow-wow to pow-wow to give this pursuit of Happyness more depth and authentic Evangelical--Prophetic meaning.

dave buehler | providence college

Now here's that "Lexington" column from THE ECONOMIST:


Lexington: The joys of parenthood

-- Why conservatives are happier than liberals

IN EVERY nursery there is one child known as the Biter. Who suffers the most
from this child's delinquency? Not his classmates, whose bite marks quickly
heal. It is the Biter's mum and dad, who endure sideways glances from other
parents when dropping him off in the morning and fret constantly that their own
poor parenting has produced a monster.

Arthur Brooks was once the father of a Biter. For a year, his son gnawed on
boys, girls, siblings, friends and so many guests that he had to be removed from
his own fourth birthday party. Mr Brooks worried, argued with his wife, lost
sleep and sought professional help. So he speaks from experience when he says
that having children does not make you happy.

Happily for the reader, his book, �Gross National Happiness�, is not a memoir.
It is a subtle and engaging distillation of oceans of data. When researchers ask
parents what they enjoy, it turns out that they prefer almost anything to looking after their children. Eating, shopping,
exercising, cooking, praying and watching television were all rated more
pleasurable than watching the brats, even if they don't bite. As Mr Brooks puts
it: �There are many things in a parent's life that bring great joy. For example,
spending time away from [one's] children.�

Despite this, American parents are much more likely to be happy than
non-parents. This is for two reasons, argues Mr Brooks, an economist at Syracuse
University. Even if children are irksome now, they lend meaning to life in the
long term. And the kind of people who are happy are also more likely to have
children. Which leads on to Mr Brooks's most controversial finding: in America,
conservatives are happier than liberals.

Several books have been written about happiness in recent years. Some have tried
to discern which nations are the happiest. Many more purport to offer a
foolproof guide to self-fulfilment. Others wonder if the obsessive pursuit of happiness is itself making people miserable. Mr Brooks offers something different.
He writes only about Americans, thus avoiding the pitfalls of trying to figure
out, for example, whether Japanese people mean the same thing as Danes when they
say they are happy. And he writes intriguingly about the politics of happiness.

In 2004 Americans who called themselves �conservative� or �very conservative�
were nearly twice as likely to tell pollsters they were �very happy� as those
who considered themselves �liberal� or �very liberal� (44% versus 25%). One
might think this was because liberals were made wretched by George Bush. But the
data show that American conservatives have been consistently happier than
liberals for at least 35 years.

This is not because they are richer; they are not. Mr Brooks thinks three
factors are important. Conservatives are twice as likely as liberals to be
married and twice as likely to attend church every week. Married, religious
people are more likely than secular singles to be happy. They are also more likely to have children, which makes Mr Brooks confident
that the next generation will be at least as happy as the current one.

When religious and political differences are combined, the results are striking.
Secular liberals are as likely to say they are �not too happy� as to say they
are very happy (22% to 22%). Religious conservatives are ten times more likely
to report being very happy than not too happy (50% to 5%). Religious liberals
are about as happy as secular conservatives.

Why should this be so? Mr Brooks proposes that whatever their respective merits,
the conservative world view is more conducive to happiness than the liberal one
(in the American sense of both words). American conservatives tend to believe
that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can succeed. This makes them
more optimistic than liberals, more likely to feel in control of their lives and
therefore happier. American liberals, at their most pessimistic, stress the
injustice of the economic system, the crushing impersonal forces that keep the little guy down and what David
Mamet, a playwright, recently summed up as the belief that �everything is always
wrong�. Emphasising victimhood was noble during the 1950s and 1960s, says Mr
Brooks. By overturning Jim Crow laws, liberals gave the victims of foul
injustice greater control over their lives. But in as much as the American left
is now a coalition of groups that define themselves as the victims of social and
economic forces, and
in as much as its leaders encourage people to feel helpless and aggrieved, he
thinks they make America a glummer place.
Extreme happiness

So much for right versus left. Mr Brooks also finds that extremists of both
sides are happier than moderates. Some 35% of those who call themselves
�extremely liberal� say they are very happy, against only 22% of ordinary
liberals. For conservatives, the gap is smaller: 48% to 43%. Extremists are
happy, Mr Brooks reckons, because they are certain they are right. Alas, this
often leads them to conclude that the other side is not merely wrong, but evil. Some
two-thirds of America's far left and half of the far right say they dislike not
only the other side's ideas, but also the people who hold them.

Oddly for a political writer, Mr Brooks thinks his country is doing pretty well.
Americans are mostly free to pursue happiness however they choose with little
interference from the state. Well-meaning coercion is less common than in
Europe, though it can still backfire spectacularly. He cites this example: a
county in Virginia recently banned giving food to the homeless unless it was
prepared in a county-approved kitchen, to prevent food poisoning. Churches
stopped ladling soup, and more homeless people were forced to scavenge in skips.
This hurt not only the hungry, but also the volunteers who might have found
satisfaction in helping them. The surest way to buy happiness, argues Mr Brooks,
is to give some of your time and money away.

� 2008 | Mar 27th 2008 � The Economist print edition