Lexegete™ | Year A | Matthew
CHRIST THE KING
LAST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
November 23, 2008 (Lectionary 34)
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
Psalm 95:1-7a (7)
Color: White or Green
Exekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
Psalm 100 (3)
November 30, 2008
Ezekiel 3:16-21 | Psalm 19:1-6 (4) | Romans 10: 10-18
1a. CONTEXT - Matthew 25:31-46
Wedding apocalyptic imagery with Sermon on the Mount ethics, this
judgment scene is unique to Matthew and bears his theological stamp. It
is placed as the last word of Jesus to his disciples before the Passion as
well as the climax of the apocalyptic section (Ch. 24-25). Its content
sums up both Jesus' identity with the suffering, which he is about to make
complete on the cross, and his understanding of the life of faith, for which
the disciples will be held accountable.
Immediately preceded by the parable of the wise and foolish
investors, our text further develops the parable's settling of accounts and
concern with how one uses the time when the master is away. But it
stands out in three ways.
1. The scene is bracketed by apocalyptic imagery which carries
with it dramatic expectations of the coming of the Son of Man and
judgment, (cf., Mt. 13:41ff., 24:27ff., Daniel 12:2).
2. The criteria for judgment are given ethical content, sounding
much like the Sermon on the Mount. (See especially Mt. 6:1-4 [give alms
unself-consciously] and Mt. 7:15-27 [on hearing and doing Jesus' words
and knowing false prophets by their fruit]). One wonders if Matthew's
community was plagued by false prophets whose lives bore little
compassion or humility, giving rise to the evangelist's special concern
with those qualities of faithful living--qualities which remain important
for the community of faith in a proud and self-centered culture.
3. Holding apocalyptic and ethic together is a radical Christology of
incarnation. Jesus is present in "the least." Matthew expresses such
identification with the "little ones" elsewhere (18:5, 10:40-42; cf.
Proverbs 19:17). But uniquely here it is the King, the Son of Man in his
glory, whose presence is known in the vulnerable ones. (Note also that the
extrahistorical nature of apocalyptic thought is abrogated in service to
1b. TEXT - Matthew 25:31-46
The Final Judgment
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,  you did it to me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
 25:40 Or brothers and sisters
31οταν δε ελθη ο υιος του ανθρωπου εν τη δοξη αυτου και παντες οι αγγελοι μετ αυτου, τοτε καθισει επι θρονου δοξης αυτου: 32και συναχθησονται εμπροσθεν αυτου παντα τα εθνη, και αφορισει αυτους απ αλληλων, ωσπερ ο ποιμην αφοριζει τα προβατα απο των εριφων, 33και στησει τα μεν προβατα εκ δεξιων αυτου τα δε εριφια εξ ευωνυμων. 34τοτε ερει ο βασιλευς τοις εκ δεξιων αυτου, δευτε, οι ευλογημενοι του πατρος μου, κληρονομησατε την ητοιμασμενην υμιν βασιλειαν απο καταβολης κοσμου: 35επεινασα γαρ και εδωκατε μοι φαγειν, εδιψησα και εποτισατε με, ξενος ημην και συνηγαγετε με, 36γυμνος και περιεβαλετε με, ησθενησα και επεσκεψασθε με, εν φυλακη ημην και ηλθατε προς με. 37τοτε αποκριθησονται αυτω οι δικαιοι λεγοντες, κυριε, ποτε σε ειδομεν πεινωντα και εθρεψαμεν, η διψωντα και εποτισαμεν; 38ποτε δε σε ειδομεν ξενον και συνηγαγομεν, η γυμνον και περιεβαλομεν; 39ποτε δε σε ειδομεν ασθενουντα η εν φυλακη και ηλθομεν προς σε; 40και αποκριθεις ο βασιλευς ερει αυτοις, αμην λεγω υμιν, εφ οσον εποιησατε ενι τουτων των αδελφων μου των ελαχιστων, εμοι εποιησατε. 41τοτε ερει και τοις εξ ευωνυμων, πορευεσθε απ εμου [οι] κατηραμενοι εις το πυρ το αιωνιον το ητοιμασμενον τω διαβολω και τοις αγγελοις αυτου: 42επεινασα γαρ και ουκ εδωκατε μοι φαγειν, εδιψησα και ουκ εποτισατε με, 43ξενος ημην και ου συνηγαγετε με, γυμνος και ου περιεβαλετε με, ασθενης και εν φυλακη και ουκ επεσκεψασθε με. 44τοτε αποκριθησονται και αυτοι λεγοντες, κυριε, ποτε σε ειδομεν πεινωντα η διψωντα η ξενον η γυμνον η ασθενη η εν φυλακη και ου διηκονησαμεν σοι; 45τοτε αποκριθησεται αυτοις λεγων, αμην λεγω υμιν, εφ οσον ουκ εποιησατε ενι τουτων των ελαχιστων, ουδε εμοι εποιησατε. 46και απελευσονται ουτοι εις κολασιν αιωνιον, οι δε δικαιοι εις ζωην αιωνιον.
Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition © 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;
The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition © 1975, United Bible Societies, London
2. ANALYSIS: Matthew 25:31-46
Matthew 25:31 - Son of Man - This title is used three principle ways in
Matthew's gospel: (1) as Jesus' self-referent (16:13), often emphasizing
servanthood (11:19) or authority (9:6); (2) in passion and betrayal
predictions (17:12, 26:2,24,25); and (3) in apocalyptic imagery of the
coming one (16:27, 19:28). Although our text reflects the last usage most
clearly, it implicitly embraces the other two, giving unity to the text in
spite of the confusing shift to "king" in vs. 34.
25:34 - King ( ho basileus) - The Son of Man is identified with judgment
and a kingdom (16:27-28) but never as king. In Matthew, Jesus is directly
identified as king only sarcastically (except in 2:2), and parabolic usage
points to the first person of the Trinity, not the second. Only in Revelation
and the pastorals is Jesus ascribed the honor as "king of kings," (1 Tim.
6:15), perhaps reflecting the hesitancy of the early church to use such a
political term. The shift in titles has raised the question whether this
text originally referred to God as judge, with the superscription (v.31),
and thus the Christological focus, added later. But the King is so
incarnational that it is hard to imagine this text not referring to and
fundamentally defining Jesus the Christ.
25:32 - all the nations - Ethnos is translated either as "nations" or
"Gentiles," with context being the judge. Were this to be only a Gentile
judgment, our text would carry significantly different meanings. However,
"nations"--including Israel--is the generally preferred meaning of ethnos
(TDNT, vol. 2, p. 369), and the qualifier panta confirms the choice (cf.
25:37, 44 - Lord - Both the blessed and the cursed call the king "Lord."
(cf. Mt. 7:21)
3. STRATEGY: Matthew 25:31-46
Christology is primary, in both the text and the day, and preaching
on the sublimity of the incarnation or the uniqueness of this king is
tempting. But doing either without also emphasizing unself-conscious
love of "the least" is to violate the text's meaning for the Christian
community. Yet such an emphasis leads right into the "problem" of the
text--salvation by works. This is like other texts which some argue with
as "not Lutheran enough," says Krister Stendahl. "But if it's good enough
for Matthew, it's good enough for me," (1984 Beecher Lectures, Yale
Divinity School). Furthermore, far from prescribing a rigid legalism of
service--the surprise of both sheep and goats undoes such a notion--this
text describes the integrity of a simple faith blessed with unpretentious
compassion for people in obvious need, and warns the Christian community
against a satisfied, unincarnated faith cut off from deeds--and thus cut
off from Jesus himself.
There are other problems for the preacher--chiefly that there's
just too much to preach about, too many good images, too many
contemporary issues addressed. But clarity of focus on the central energy
of both text and day will serve our communities well. Besides, what
intense ironies the day presents us! Christ the King comes to us naked.
The emperor has no clothes indeed. Christ the King in prison--South
Africa, take heart. Christ the King with food stamps in the check-out line.
THIS king is our judge. And therein lies our hope--not in our own
compassionate work but in our king's.
4. WORSHIP SUGGESTIONS
The ironies also keep this festival of Christ from lapsing into
triumphalism. Make use of them in worship. Daring congregations could
visualize the gospel's images with a crowned beggar at the door who might
also read the lessons, or have a trumpeted processional with banners,
cross, and the "little ones." It is an ideal Sunday to support ministry with
the "least"--refugees, sanctuary, a local food bank--with education and
offerings. Good hymns abound. AT THE NAME OF JESUS (LBW #179) is a
great hymn which should not be limited to a lesser festival. Two which
sing forth both the king's glory and justice are CHRIST IS THE KING (LBW
#386) and THE LORD WILL COME AND NOT BE SLOW (LBW # 318).
Hamerton-Kelly, R.G. "Matthew," THE INTERPRETER'S DICTIONARY OF THE
BIBLE, Supplementary Volume, Keith Crim, ed. Nashville: Abingdon, 1976,
Schmidt, Karl Ludwig, "Ethnos in the NT," THEOLOGICAL DICTIONARY OF
THE NEW TESTAMENT, voll. II, Gerhard Kittel, ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdman's,
1964, pp. 369-372.
Schweizer, Eduard, THE GOOD NEWS ACCORDING TO MATTHEW. Atlanta:
John Knox Press, 1975.
Stendahl, Krister, "The Art of Preaching," 1984 Lyman Beecher Lectures,
available on audio cassette from the Paul Vieth Christian Education Center
of Yale Divinity School, New Haven, CT.
Exegete: Rev. Jean Larson Hurd
Pastor, Our Saviour’s Lutheran, Bonner, MT
DAY OF THANKSGIVING (U.S.A.)
November 27, 2008
Deuteronomy 8:7-18 | Psalm 65
2 Corinthians 9:6-15
1a. Context: Luke 17:11-19
Following a Lukan pattern of words/teachings of Christ followed
by acts of loving service this lesson follows a strong section
(16:1-17:10) on discipleship. In this section Jesus calls his
apostles (17:5), the inner circle of twelve amongst the disciples, to
a full commitment to the Gospel and not to use the gift of faith as a
tool to self-glory or advancement as did several of Jesus' opponents.
Healing, in Luke, is a sign of God's divine grace. Some may
conjecture as to whether or not this is because of the Gospel's
namesake being a physician, but healing plays a key role in this
Gospel. From Jesus' sermon text in Nazareth (4:18 ff) to the end of
this Gospel Jesus' teachings are reinforced with exorcisms and
healings. Those healed are usually the outcast or at least the lesser
of society unlike contemporary healers. Philostratus, a contemporary
of the Gospel writers' era wrote in The Life of Apollonius of Tyana -
miracle of Apollonius very similar to Luke 7:11-17, the Healing in Nain,
except in Apollonius' case the dead child was from an important
family, in Jesus' healing it was "a widow". Not from the upper or
privileged class, as Jesus' contemporaries did, but the common people
and outcasts. Our pericope today illustrates this point graphically
with a Samaritan being the one who demonstrates faith in the manner
recommended by the Psalms (Psalm 30:10-12 for example) i.e. to give
thanks and praise to God for his gifts.
In Luke's Gospel those healed include people with demons and
diseases: 4:33ff, 4:40ff, 6:17ff, 8:2ff, 8:26ff, 9:10ff, and 11:14ff;
Simon Peter's Mother-in-Law: 4:38; someone paralyzed: 5:18;
handicapped individuals: 6:6ff, 8:42 ff, 13:10ff, 14:2ff, 18:35ff,
and 22:51ff; those dying and dead: 7:1ff, 7:11ff, 8:40ff; and those
with leprosy: 5:12ff and 17:12ff. Invariably the actions of healing
came as a response or fulfillment of Jesus' teaching, most often as
Jesus teaches of forgiveness and faith.
Our lesson for today is the third from the last healing story in
Luke's Gospel (followed only by the blind man in Jericho (18:35ff) and
the restoring of the slave's ear in the Garden of Gethsemane
(22:51ff). Following Jesus' teaching on discipleship it serves to
epitomize responses of God's grace (either a faith response or not).
1b. Text: Luke 17:11-19
Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers
11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers,  who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” 
 17:12 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13
 17:19 Or has saved you
11και εγενετο εν τω πορευεσθαι εις ιερουσαλημ και αυτος διηρχετο δια μεσον σαμαρειας και γαλιλαιας. 12και εισερχομενου αυτου εις τινα κωμην απηντησαν [αυτω] δεκα λεπροι ανδρες, οι εστησαν πορρωθεν, 13και αυτοι ηραν φωνην λεγοντες, ιησου επιστατα, ελεησον ημας. 14και ιδων ειπεν αυτοις, πορευθεντες επιδειξατε εαυτους τοις ιερευσιν. και εγενετο εν τω υπαγειν αυτους εκαθαρισθησαν. 15εις δε εξ αυτων, ιδων οτι ιαθη, υπεστρεψεν μετα φωνης μεγαλης δοξαζων τον θεον, 16και επεσεν επι προσωπον παρα τους ποδας αυτου ευχαριστων αυτω: και αυτος ην σαμαριτης. 17αποκριθεις δε ο ιησους ειπεν, ουχι οι δεκα εκαθαρισθησαν; οι δε εννεα που; 18ουχ ευρεθησαν υποστρεψαντες δουναι δοξαν τω θεω ει μη ο αλλογενης ουτος; 19και ειπεν αυτω, αναστας πορευου: η πιστις σου σεσωκεν σε.
Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition © 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;
The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition © 1975, United Bible Societies, London
2. Analysis: Luke 17:11-19
Luke17:11 Jerousalom - Jerusalem Luke uses Jerusalem not just a the
physical site of the climax of Jesus' ministry i.e. his death and
resurrection, but also as a symbol of Jesus' opposition and the
stories that follow those references are usually correctives to
misunderstandings of the faith.
Luke 17:11 auto diorcheto dia meson Samareias kai Galilaias. - he
passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Geographically
very hard to do as that is the East-West running border well to
the North of Jerusalem. Some have translated this passing
through as between Samaria and Galilee. More likely Luke used
this reference to account for the presence of a Samaritan (even a
leper) amongst the Jews.
Luke 17:12 elenson omas - pity us / have mercy on us
Luke 17:14 ekatharisthosan - they were cleansed/they were made clean
Luke 17:15 idon - seeing with alertness, suddenly realizing
Luke 17:15 iatho - healed, cured, made well
Luke 17:19 sesoken - save (as in Christian), make well, preserve
3. Strategy: Luke 17:11-19
This passage with its themes of healing, outreach to outcasts
(lepers), and faith shown by a "double" outcast - Samaritan leper to
God and a Jewish Rabbi, together can give a powerful message that can
too easily be lost in the familiarity of the story. In addition to
its place in Year C of our Pericope schedule it is also the appointed
Gospel for the Lutheran calendar's day of Thanksgiving.
A first theme to explore is leprosy. Leprosy was a disease that
would exclude the sufferer from the community. Leviticus 13-14
discussed all the proper procedures for diagnosing, responding to,
and cleansing lepers. Our pericope follows the outlined procedures
properly from the warning cry to oncomers, to the distancing
themselves from the village proper, to Jesus' instructions to go see
the Priest. Luke has Jesus treating this contact with lepers
differently than in 5:12ff, where Jesus heals them. Here he follows
the Levitican directions explicitly, instructing the lepers to present
themselves to the Priest, as the Priest was the only person qualified
to declare a person clean of leprosy.
Though these lepers were unclean, outcasts once again our Lord
reaches out to them with love and grace. The fear of becoming
unclean, either ritually or physically does not deter our Lord.
Donald Juel in his book LUKE - ACTS THE PROMISE OF HISTORY -
"Jesus' ministry and his teachings embody God's concern for
sinners. God is not indifferent. The law is to be obeyed,
but religion that becomes merely exclusive, that seeks to
perpetuate social injustice, that destroys any genuine
concern for outsiders, is perverse. The pious in Luke fear
contamination from outsiders. Jesus is not corrupted,
however. By their contact with him, sinners and tax
collectors--people like Matthew and Zacchaeus--are
converted, reformed, restored. Touching the women with a
hemorrhage (Luke 8:43-48) or lepers (5:12-15 and 17:11-19)
or even the dead (Luke 7:11-17) does not defile Jesus;
rather, the sick are healed, lepers cleansed, and the dead
It might be well for us to examine who the outcasts, lepers are
in our communities, even in our congregations. AIDS comes quickly to
mind these days, but what about chemical abusers, the homeless, the
unemployed, the single parents, the abused, the abusers, the aged
living alone, the physically impaired? These may be contemporary
"lepers" that we are inclined to leave alone, as individuals and as
communities of the faithful.
Samaritans also fit into the outcast mold, as they were seen as
racially unclean and theologically in error by their Jewish
contemporaries. Yet Luke each time he mentions Samaritans or Samaria
it is in a positive way. This is consistent with his treatment of
other traditional outcasts, reinforcing the theme that is persistent
in Luke-Acts, that for God there are no outcasts, and that should be
true for God's people.
The issue of healing is also a significant theme in this
pericope. Luke uses different words for the ten lepers and the one
who returns for healing. The ten lepers are cleansed -on their way to
the priest, the one sees that he is cured -
the Rabbi who did this marvelous thing. Jesus then says that he is
healed. The word used by Jesus in vs. 19 for healing is the same word
as is used for saving. An implication of this progression may be that
though all were cleansed, only the one was healed, brought to
wholeness, saved. Faith made the difference between the one and the
nine. Nine were satisfied with returning to their communities, one
found something deeper to return to.
Eduard Schweizer commenting on this passage in The Good News
According to Luke writes these thought provoking words about healing:
"A Christian community where the sick are not healed is
a spiritually poor community. A community in which the
healing does not take place quietly but is placed in the
center for its propaganda effect is a spiritually endangered
community. Whether healing takes place through
extraordinary means such as prayer or through "ordinary"
means, such as the faithful ministrations of a doctor, is
not the most important question. What matters is whether or
not the bodily healing leads to a new life with God. Here
the sign of healing through prayer can be helpful, and its
total absence is an unnatural condition for the community."
This day may be an occasion to focus on healing and its true
meaning, perhaps using the Service of the Word for Healing from the
LBW Occasional Service Book or a parallel service from other
traditions. The focusing of worship in this important and often
overlooked area could breathe new, healing life into any congregation.
Another theme to follow is the theme of thanksgiving. The
Samaritan praising God fell at the feet of Jesus and "euchariston"
thanked him. The whole concept of thanksgiving and Eucharist could be
explored as well as it related stewardship emphases.
Following one or more of these threads of themes in a worship
service can breathe new life into a very familiar passage and perhaps
lead to healing surprises for all.
4. References: Luke 17:11-19
Danker, Frederick W. JESUS AND THE NEW AGE According to St. Luke
St. Louis, Clayton Publishing House, 1987 (2nd ed.).
Gilbertson, James G. PC STUDY BIBLE Seattle: Biblesoft, 1988
Computer Study Bible and Concordance in NIV, KJV, & ASV
Juel, Donald LUKE-ACTS The Promise of History Atlanta: John Knox
Schweizer, Eduard THE GOOD NEWS ACCORDING TO LUKE
translated by David E. Green. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1984
Young, Robert YOUNG'S ANALYTICAL CONCORDANCE TO THE BIBLE
Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1975
5. MUSIC SUGGESTIONS: Luke 17:11-19
LBW # Hymn Name
520 Give to Our God Immortal Praise!
336 Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me
111 Lamb of God, Pure and Sinless
533/4 Now Thank We All Our God (HB 396/7)
543 Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (HB 390)
549 Praise My Soul, the King of Heaven (HB 410)
364 Son of God, Eternal Saviour
355 Through the Night of Doubt and Sorrow (cf. HB 527)
252 You Servants of God (HB 535)
6. Further Study
I would like to recommend for a different perspective on The
Gospel of Luke the SELECT Video Tape Course Series sponsored by
Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. Among their many
course offerings for clergy groups is one entitled "The Gospel of
Luke." It is a well defined six session course that any cluster of
Clergy or Biblically literate lay people could undertake. It is
designed for the Church Professional, but need not be limited to
such. Each course involves a reading from the Course professor
(Donald Juel) in his book Luke-Acts The Promise of History , a
discussion period based on the accompanying study guide and a short
(approximately 25 minutes) video tape lecture by Dr. Juel.
The Clergy group I participate in were studying this course at
the time of this writing and all of us gained new insights into
Luke's Gospel. A call to Trinity Seminary [614/235-4136]
will put you in touch with the course offerings and procedures to enroll
or you may want to write them at: Continuing Education Office, Trinity
Lutheran Seminary, 2199 E. Main St., Columbus, OHIO 43209. BTW, they also have
Many resources for studying Mark and Matthew and John as well!
For details: http://www.selectlearning.org/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=68
Exegete: Philip N. Gustafson is Pastor at New Hope Lutheran Ministries
In VanderGrift, PA.
TWENTY-SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
November 16, 2008 (Lectionary 33)
Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18
Psalm 90:1-8 [9-11] 12 (12)
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Psalm 123 (2)
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
1. CONTEXT: Matthew 25:14-30
1a. CONTEXT: Matthew 25:14-30
This parable is recorded in three versions, Mt. 25:14-30; Lk. 19:11-27
and the Gospel of the Hebrews. It is apocalyptic in nature both because of
its subject matter, especially the focus on rewards and punishment and its
placement in the fifth discourse in Matthew. In its present form it is an
allegory in which Jesus is represented by the merchant. Prior to this
stage the parable was a tale of reversal of roles.
The first two servants, as depicted in the original parable, have acted
as agents for their master and have taken the generous sum he has given
them and increased it. The third servant has followed Rabbinical law and
to prevent theft has buried it. While he has not been daring, he has been
correct. To the hearers of the parable the third servant has behaved
appropriately, he has preserved what has been passed on to him, he is
blameless. To the hearers the condemnation passed on him would have
been incomprehensible (McGaughy). In the first century context Jesus was
saying that it can never be enough to simply hold on to the Torah.
At a second redacted stage this parable was understood as parenetic, so
the Gospel of Hebrews, and vs. 29, see below, was added to it to complete
the parenetic thought. In so doing the critique of Judaism was blunted and
the parable instead confirmed Jewish morality (McGaughy). Matthew then
take this already worked over parable and thorugh its Sitz im Text
interprets is as yet another call to be watchful as the final day
1b. TEXT: Matthew 25:14-30
2. ANALYSIS: Matthew 25:14-30
Matthew 25:14 - the gar links what follows to what preceds so that
25:13 serves as an introduction to this parable.
25:15 - A talanton is a considerable amount of money. We should think in
terms of about $2,000.00.
25:19 - meta polyn chronon - The return of the merchant/Christ is likened
to the return of Christ after the Ascension (Jeremias, p. 61).
25: 24,26 - " The juxtaposition of speiro and diaskorpizo...suggests the
metaphor of scattering seed...diaskorpizo might refer here to the
winnowing of grain. If so therizo refers to the cutting of the grain and
synago denotes the gathering into the barn of the grain that has been
purged to the chaff" (Michel, p. 421-2).
25:29 - to gar echonti panti dothsetai kai perisseuthsetai. toi de he
echontos kai ho echei arthsetai ar autou - is the verse with the greatest
agreement in wording between Matthew and Luke, and it occurs elsewhere
at Mt. 13:12; Mk. 4:25 and Lk. 8:18 "One may conclude that it was a free
floating logion and was added to this parable sometime before it reached
the evangelists" (McGaughy). Because this is what God's judgment is like,
the need to avoid failure is overhwelming (Jeremias, p. 62).
3. STRATEGY: Matthew 25:14-30
Four observations for preaching are suggested by Steinmetz' article in
1. "Where the judgment of God is concerned, the question is never how
much I have been given, but what I have done with what I have" (p. 174).
2. "There is no responsible use of the gifts of God which does not involve
taking risks" (p. 175).
3. "The judgment of God excludes the excuses with which we deceive
ourselves" (p. 176).
4. "The judgment of God is mercifully severe" (p. 176).
This Sunday is the day which usually falls before the OXFAM Fast
for a World Harvest. The material OXFAM provides will furnish the
preacher with ample illustration for how we can avoid being the third
servant who plays it safe or begin being one who takes risks. The Lord is
not going to ask us whether or not we kept our hands clean. He is going to
ask us how we used the gifts he has given us. Fast on Thursday; prepare
your congregation for it today.
Jeremias, J. THE PARABLES OF JESUS. New York: Scribner's, 1972.
McGaughy, L.C. "The Fear of Yahweh and the Mission of Judaism: A
Postexilic Maxim and its Early Christian Expansion in the Parable of the
Talents." JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE 94 (1986), pp. 235-245.
Michel, O. "skorpizo," "diaskorpizo," and "skorpismos," in THEOLOGICAL
DICTIONARY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, volume 7. Grand Rapids,MI:
Steinmetz, D.C. "Matthew 25:14-30," in INTERPRETATION 34 (1980),
5. MUSIC SUGGESTIONS
THE LORD WILL COME AND NOT BE SLOW (HB 462, LBW 318) brings out the
certainty of Judgment in a processional hymn. FATHER ALL LOVING (HB
568) stresses a similar theme. FATHER ETERNAL (HB 573, LBW 413) is a
hymn with a clear call for the coming of the Lord and will be appropriate
for this theme as well as for the penultimate Sunday after Pentecost.
Other suggestions: FORTH IN THY NAME, O LORD, I GO (LBW 505) JUDGE
ETERNAL, THRONED IN SPLENDOR (LBW 418, HB 596); O LORD OF LIGHT, WHO
MADE THE STARS (LBW 323); REJOICE, ANGELIC CHOIRS, REJOICE (LBW 146)
Exegete: Peter R. Powell, Jr.
Director IHA Interfaith Housing, Westport, CT
From the NY Times:
To the Editor:
Re ''Homelessness in New York'' (editorial, Dec. 27):
One reason New York City is overwhelmed with homeless men, women and families is the lack of emergency shelter beds in suburbs. Too many suburbs see the cities as the solution to the problem and provide nothing for local homeless people. People in need of shelter flock to where the shelter is, rather than remain where they are not welcome.
Since 1984, Westport, Conn., has bucked this trend. Shelter, transitional housing and permanent housing are provided in several small programs for families and individuals in need. We do not begin to have the capacity to solve New York's problem, but if other suburbs were to join us, we could make a significant dent in solving the problem of homelessness and relieving some of the burden on the city.
(Rev.) PETER R. POWELL
Interfaith Housing Association
Westport, Conn., Dec. 27, 2001 December 29, 2001
6. FURTHER READING
As the old church year passes away, it is always a good time to speak of the very
idea of a liturgical year. An excellent new resource for the speaking is
Paul Bosch's little CHURCH YEAR GUIDE (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1987),
a survey of the meaning of Sabbath, of Easter, Lent, Christmas,
Epiphany,Advent, the Time of the Church, and the Lesser Festivals.
While this at first seems an odd sequence, author Bosch shows very
convincingly through vivid examples and illustrations why the Church Year
is best understood inductively and instructively as a lens through which to
view life, rather than as a ritual cycle to traverse over and over. This
book would be of value in any church library!
BTW, Paul Bosch’s Worship Workbench is online at: http://www.worship.ca/