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Monday, January 5, 2009

+ Jan. 11, 2009 - | - Jan. 26, 2009 +

Lexegete ™ | Year B | Mark

Baptism of Our Lord

January 11, 2009 (Lectionary 1)
Genesis 1:1-5
Psalm 29 (3)
Acts 19:1-7
Mark 1:4-11

Prayer of the Day

Holy God, creator of light and giver of goodness, your voice moves over the waters. Immerse us in your grace, and transform us by your Spirit, that we may follow after your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia. A voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, | the Beloved,
with whom I | am well pleased." Alleluia. (Matt. 3:17)

1a. CONTEXT: Mark 1:4-11

For the third time in a bit more than a month, the Year B Lectionary has us confronting the person, message and ministry of John the Baptizer. It may see odd that the cycle of lessons is “redundant” in this way, and yet it only attests to the central importance of John for our understanding of the person, message and ministry of Jesus. Looking back on the exegesis of Matthew 3:13-17 in Lexegete: Year A, written by Sherman Johnson, we ought to remind ourselves of the following basics:

1. Jesus' baptism was the original theme of the feast of the Epiphany, as it still is in the eastern Churches. The account in Matthew followed the story of the ministry of John the Baptist at the Jordan, and his announcement of one "mightier" than himself who comes in judgment.

2. All the gospels agree that Jesus' ministry began after John had
made this testimony, al though the Fourth Gospel does not say that Jesus
was baptized. The Synoptics portray baptism in the light of early
Christian theology.

3. When the Markan account is compared with Matt. 3:3-17, it is clear that this time there is almost no emphasis upon John's reluctance. Matthew did not suggest that Jesus was sinless, as in the apocryphal gospels, but that he was greater than John. Since John's disciples continued for some time as a sect independent of the Christian Church, this witness to Jesus was an answer to anyone who claimed that John was the leader or Jesus the follower.

4. In Mark and in Matthew both, Jesus sees the Spirit descending like a dove, but others may have seen the skies open and/or heard the voice. Rabbis
believed that canonical prophecy had ceased, but they told of a voice
from heaven (bath qol, "daughter of a voice") which often spoke words
of Scripture, as on this occasion. Jesus is proclaimed as God's
Son or (inclusively) "child," both beloved and chosen. Similarly, in Mt. 4:3,6, the tempter calls him Son of God (an infrequent title in Q, which usually
speaks of the Son of Man).

5. Mark 1:11 could be understood as suggesting that Jesus
became “Son of God” at his baptism, but in Matthew he is that
at least from the time of his conception (1:20,23; 2:15). Thus the baptism
was a solemn appointment of the Messiah for his ministry. Acts
10:38, in the second reading for the day, says that Jesus was
"anointed...with the Holy Spirit and with power.”

1b. TEXT: Mark 1:4-11

1:4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

1:5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

1:6 Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

1:7 He proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.

1:8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

1:9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

1:10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.

1:11 And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."

4εγενετο ιωαννης [ο] βαπτιζων εν τη ερημω και κηρυσσων βαπτισμα μετανοιας εις αφεσιν αμαρτιων. 5και εξεπορευετο προς αυτον πασα η ιουδαια χωρα και οι ιεροσολυμιται παντες, και εβαπτιζοντο υπ αυτου εν τω ιορδανη ποταμω εξομολογουμενοι τας αμαρτιας αυτων. 6και ην ο ιωαννης ενδεδυμενος τριχας καμηλου και ζωνην δερματινην περι την οσφυν αυτου, και εσθιων ακριδας και μελι αγριον. 7και εκηρυσσεν λεγων, ερχεται ο ισχυροτερος μου οπισω μου, ου ουκ ειμι ικανος κυψας λυσαι τον ιμαντα των υποδηματων αυτου: 8εγω εβαπτισα υμας υδατι, αυτος δε βαπτισει υμας εν πνευματι αγιω. 9και εγενετο εν εκειναις ταις ημεραις ηλθεν ιησους απο ναζαρετ της γαλιλαιας και εβαπτισθη εις τον ιορδανην υπο ιωαννου. 10και ευθυς αναβαινων εκ του υδατος ειδεν σχιζομενους τους ουρανους και το πνευμα ως περιστεραν καταβαινον εις αυτον: 11και φωνη εγενετο εκ των ουρανων, συ ει ο υιος μου ο αγαπητος, εν σοι ευδοκησα.

Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;
The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition 1975, United Bible Societies, London

2. ANALYSIS: Mark 1:1-11

Mk. 1:4 - baptisma - baptism ; metanoia - repentance
aphesis - forgiveness

1:5 - chora - country or land ; potamos - river ; exomologeo - promise or confess

1:6 - enduoo - dress, clothing; thrix - hair; kamelos - camel; zonei - girdle;
dermatinos - leather, animal skins; osphus - loins; achris - grasshopper or locust;
meli - honey ; agrios - wild

1:7 - ischuros - mighty or strong; ikanos - sufficient, enough; kupto - to bow one’s head; luo - to let loose, untie; himas - strap or thong; hupodeima - sandal

1:10 - schizo - separate, split or divide; peristera - dove - This may well be a recollection of Genesis 1:2, in which the Spirit hovers over the waters. In Jewish tradition the dove is usually the symbol of Israel, and occasionally of the Spirit.

1:11 - eudokeoo - take delight or pleasure in; In Matt. 3, this was literally," I delight in you," but the verb may refer to a decision made by God, hence the phrase may reflect Is. 42:1 (in the first of today's readings), where God's pais (servant, child) is Israel ho eklektos mou; cf. Is. 44:2, Jacob/Israel is God's pais egapemenos. Thus the verse may have a secondary reference to Jesus as the Servant in 2nd Isaiah (as in Mt. 12:18; cf. Acts 3:13, 26;4:27,30; Didache 9:2f., 10:2f.). Is Jesus then to be identified
as the “ true” Israel? The NT never says so explicitly, although theologians sometimes make the obvious inference.

3. STRATEGY: Mark 1:4-11

Whether one intends to preach on Mark 1:4-11 or only verses 7-11, the baptism of the Lord is clearly in the form of an epiphany, a revelation
of the nature of Christ. One way of approaching the homily is to think of Jesus as the pattern of Christians, in his servanthood and obedience to God's righteousness.

Although John recognizes that he is in the presence of a greater one, Jesus accepts
his baptism, not to become John's disciple but to associate himself
with the movement of national renewal; cf. Ezek. 36:25-27. As
Christians we too receive the Holy Spirit in baptism and become God's
children, crying Abba (Rom. 8:15).. As such we are members of the
Israel of God (Gal. 6:16; Rom. 11:13-24). The Book of the Acts of the Apostles
tells of Christian baptism from Pentecost on, as if it required no
explanation. The Fourth Gospel once speaks of Jesus baptizing during

his ministry (John 3:26), but later reports that only the disciples baptized (4:2).
In Matt. 28:19 it is the risen Christ who definitely commands
baptism. Is the story of Jesus' baptism a model for the Christian
rite, at least in Mark and Luke? The gospels suggest this only by
the prominent place they give it, yet we might properly use the event
as a prototype. A good disciple must be ready to drink the cup that
Jesus drank and undergo a baptism like his (Mark 10:38, but Mt. 20:22
speaks only of the cup), and Paul says that we were baptized into his
death (Rom 6:4).

Another approach is to concentrate on Acts 10:38. Immediately after his baptism, Jesus resisted temptation and began his ministry of healing and liberation.

Exegete: Sherman E. Johnson † was fourth Dean of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, and author of Harper’s Commentary on the Gospel According to Mark (1960) and THE THEOLOGY OF THE GOSPELS (1966), among other books.

4. REFERENCES: Mark 1:4-11

Johnson, Sherman. “Baptism of Our Lord ( Matthew 3:13-17), in LEXEGETE: Gospels/Year A/Matthew. N. Dartmouth,MA: Tischrede Software, 1992.

Kingsbury, Jack D ean. Matthew (Proclamation Commentaries, G. Krodel,
editor). Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977.

5. MUSIC SUGGESTIONS: Baptism of Our Lord (Epiphany 1)

Two hymns seems especially appropriate to the season and the day:

PRAISE (HB 135, LBW 90).

Other suitable hymns on Baptism include:






If this Day is to be an occasion for a wider celebration or
affirmation of Holy Baptism, either BAPTIZED IN WATER (HB 294) or

Additional music pertinent to the Baptism of Jesus may be found in the listings for
Advent 2 and Advent 3 in Lexegete, Year B, supra.

LEXEGETE™ / Year B / Gospel of Mark

Sunday after Epiphany
January 18, 2009 (Lectionary 2)
(Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins)

1 Samuel 3:1-10 [11-20]
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 (1)
1 Corinthians 6:12-20
John 1:43-51

Prayer of the Day

Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ, most merciful redeemer, for the countless blessings and benefits you give. May we know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day praising you, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia. We have found | the Messiah:
Jesus Christ, who brings us | grace and truth. Alleluia. (John 1:41, 17)

1a. Context: John 1:43-51

Although many congregations will still be basking in post-holiday Joy (or pre-Annual Meeting Anxiety), I suspect others will consider taking part in the 2009 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This seems especially apt, falling as it does in the same week as our national Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Birthday celebrations and the inauguration (Jan. 20, 2009) of America’s 44th President and first African American President, Barack Obama. Despite the presence of noted mega-evangelists such as Rev. Rick Warren and Rev. Samuel Lowery of the Southern Christian Leadership Council, this week is decidedly no time for “Civil Religion” to rear its ugly head.
This is a distinctive time to clarify the Separation of Powers in the U.S., including what Thomas Jefferson in 1802 spoke of as the “wall of separation between Church & State.” (Thos. Jefferson. Letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut).

The thoughtful preacher--assuming he or she will not be in Washington to attend the swearing-in of President Obama--will prayerfully prepare herself for this Sunday and the gravity of these days by examining one of many recent and excellent books on this topic by several of our best writers:. Here are just three:

a) The Christian World, by Martin E. Marty

The prolific Prof. Martin E. Marty needs no introduction! As dean of American writers on religion for lo! these many decades, he remains the truly original and creative student of God, Church, and Theology we have left today, and by far the most accessible. The Christian World is a “global history” of the Church but, more than that, it is a concise examination of the evolution of faith among the followers of Christ from the early Church down to the present moment. It is easy for Christians themselves to forget how globalized Christianity became over time, and how globally unified it was from the outset.

b) Divided by God: America's Church-State Problem--and What to Do About It, by Noah Feldman

Feldman may be less well known than Marty, yet he is no less brilliant! A professor of Law at Harvard, he grew up in Boston, where he graduated from Harvard in 1992, earning a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford (D.Phil in Islamic Thought, 1994). He is fluent in Hebrew, French, Arabic, and English. He received his J.D., from Yale Law School, 1997, where he was an editor on the Law Journal. He later clerked for Justice David Souter of the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2001, he joined the faculty of New York University Law School until 2007, when he returned to Harvard. Divided By God, which appeared just when Feldman was serving as an advisor to the US Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, is a candid reflection of the problems posed by religion, especially ‘civil’ religion, within a pluralistic society. Because he is so familiar with the interaction of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, I can think of no one better qualified to make such an assessment of the splendor of American religious diversity today.

c) American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation by Jon Meacham

Finally, one of the real gems in recent years was Jon Meacham’s tour-de-force study, The American Gospel. An active Anglo-Episcopalian laymen who reads the Daily Office, Meacham is also a highly sophisticated Editor at Newsweek and at the same time as careful a scholar and historian as Marty or Feldman. Here he gives a lively, swift account of the formation of the myth that America is a “Christian nation” in the narrow sense of that phrase. Prof. Gordon Wood of Brown University, writing in the NY Review of Books took Meacham to task for oversimplifying American Pluralism and what the optimistic Meacham likes to think of as our “public religion” [his term for a kind of pan-religious national ethos of moral responsibility]. But On this point, while Wood is surely more schooled in the Founding Fathers, Meacham is right to note that only Franklin, of the Founders, treated religious faith itself as adiaphora. Isn’t that precisely why Revs. Warren and Lowery are on deck for the Obama Inaugration?

1b. Text: John 1: [35-42]43-51

John 1:35 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples,

1:36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, "Look, here is the Lamb of God!"

1:37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.

1:38 When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher), "where are you staying?"

1:39 He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon.

1:40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.

1:41 He first found his brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated Anointed).

1:42 He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas" (which is translated Peter).

[break from Roman/Common Lectionary to Episcopal/Lutheran Lectionaries]

1:43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me."

1:44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.

1:45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth."

1:46 Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."

1:47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!"

1:48 Nathanael asked him, "Where did you get to know me?" Jesus answered, "I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you."

1:49 Nathanael replied, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!"

1:50 Jesus answered, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these."

1:51 And he said to him, "Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."

Greek: John 1:35-51

35τη επαυριον παλιν ειστηκει ο ιωαννης και εκ των μαθητων αυτου δυο, 36και εμβλεψας τω ιησου περιπατουντι λεγει, ιδε ο αμνος του θεου. 37και ηκουσαν οι δυο μαθηται αυτου λαλουντος και ηκολουθησαν τω ιησου. 38στραφεις δε ο ιησους και θεασαμενος αυτους ακολουθουντας λεγει αυτοις, τι ζητειτε; οι δε ειπαν αυτω, ραββι {ο λεγεται μεθερμηνευομενον διδασκαλε}, που μενεις; 39λεγει αυτοις, ερχεσθε και οψεσθε. ηλθαν ουν και ειδαν που μενει, και παρ αυτω εμειναν την ημεραν εκεινην: ωρα ην ως δεκατη. 40ην ανδρεας ο αδελφος σιμωνος πετρου εις εκ των δυο των ακουσαντων παρα ιωαννου και ακολουθησαντων αυτω: 41ευρισκει ουτος πρωτον τον αδελφον τον ιδιον σιμωνα και λεγει αυτω, ευρηκαμεν τον μεσσιαν {ο εστιν μεθερμηνευομενον χριστος}: 42ηγαγεν αυτον προς τον ιησουν. εμβλεψας αυτω ο ιησους ειπεν, συ ει σιμων ο υιος ιωαννου: συ κληθηση κηφας {ο ερμηνευεται πετρος}. 43τη επαυριον ηθελησεν εξελθειν εις την γαλιλαιαν, και ευρισκει φιλιππον. και λεγει αυτω ο ιησους, ακολουθει μοι. 44ην δε ο φιλιππος απο βηθσαιδα, εκ της πολεως ανδρεου και πετρου. 45ευρισκει φιλιππος τον ναθαναηλ και λεγει αυτω, ον εγραψεν μωυσης εν τω νομω και οι προφηται ευρηκαμεν, ιησουν υιον του ιωσηφ τον απο ναζαρετ. 46και ειπεν αυτω ναθαναηλ, εκ ναζαρετ δυναται τι αγαθον ειναι; λεγει αυτω [ο] φιλιππος, ερχου και ιδε. 47ειδεν ο ιησους τον ναθαναηλ ερχομενον προς αυτον και λεγει περι αυτου, ιδε αληθως ισραηλιτης εν ω δολος ουκ εστιν. 48λεγει αυτω ναθαναηλ, ποθεν με γινωσκεις; απεκριθη ιησους και ειπεν αυτω, προ του σε φιλιππον φωνησαι οντα υπο την συκην ειδον σε. 49απεκριθη αυτω ναθαναηλ, ραββι, συ ει ο υιος του θεου, συ βασιλευς ει του ισραηλ. 50απεκριθη ιησους και ειπεν αυτω, οτι ειπον σοι οτι ειδον σε υποκατω της συκης πιστευεις; μειζω τουτων οψη. 51και λεγει αυτω, αμην αμην λεγω υμιν, οψεσθε τον ουρανον ανεωγοτα και τους αγγελους του θεου αναβαινοντας και καταβαινοντας επι τον υιον του ανθρωπου.

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 1:35-51

1:35 - to epaurion - tomorrow, the following or next day; eisteikei - from isteimi

1:36 - emblepoo - to fix one’s gaze upon or observe; amnos - lamb

1:38 - strephoo - to turn around; met hermeineuoo - to explain, interpret

1:39 - dekatos - one tenth

1:42 - hermeneuoo - to interpret (source of our word “hermeneutic”)

1:47 - dolos - cunning, deception

1:48 - suchei - fig tree

1:50 - upokatoo - below or under

1:51 - anoigoo - open

3. Strategy: John 1:35-42 OR/AND John 1:43-51

Regardless of which of these pericopes will be followed by the preacher,
both tend to inform, instruct, and reinforce each other. Since the theological underpinnings of the Fourth Gospel lend themselves to a more complex, even abstract, approach to the light and life of Christ, today might be a unique opportunity to look more deeply into the precise language of John’s Greek, the better to understand what he has in mind by the use of words like εμβλεψας and phrases such as “ ο ερμηνευεται πετρος,” οr ” μεθερμηνευομενον διδασκαλε.”

All too many preachers are afraid of “teaching” through didactic or expository sermons, or they relegate teaching to an inferior sphere of activity, ala the secular world. But it would be exciting to hear just once a lucid explanation of hermeneutics so clear and concise that it could be grasped even by those who are yet to be caught up in the zeal of a mission high fulfilling (ELW 668) like the ELCA’s new emphasis upon The Bible as The Book of Faith!

It would be worthwhile to make posters of two or three Greek or Hebrew words from today’s texts (1 Samuel 3:1-10 [11-20]; Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 (1); 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; or John 1:43-51) and explain how the meaning of these words is simultaneously ancient and contemporary, requiring interpretation. [ For more suggestions, see the interesting BOOK of FAITH website: ] We hear a lot today about “Change.” Does the Bible “change”? What does it mean if it does not? Moreover, as Dr. David Lose (Luther Seminary) points out on the website we sometimes engage in polemics to “prove” this or that Bible story to be “true,” But then what does this say about our understanding of the Truth of Sola Scripturaa? These are vigorous and daring questions which have always captured the imagination of thinking Christians everywhere. Fear not! (But remember: opening up such questions can unleash controversy and lead some to see pastors as dividers, “false teachers” or worse; cf. Rom. 16:17-20.

4. References: John 1:35ff.

Feldman, N. Divided by God: America's Church-State Problem--and What We Should Do About It

Lose, David. “Is the Bible True?” (DVD)

Marty, M.E. The Christian World

Meacham, J. American Gospel

5. Music Suggestions: John 1:35ff.






Exegete: David Buehler, Editor, Tischrede Software

Confession of Peter

January 19, 2009 (transferred from January 18)
Acts 4:8-13
Psalm 18:1-6, 16-19 (3)
1 Corinthians 10:1-5
Matthew 16:13-19

Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, you inspired Simon Peter to confess Jesus as the Messiah and Son of the living God. Keep your church firm on the rock of this faith, so that in unity and peace it may proclaim one truth and follow one Lord, your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia. You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea | and Samaria,
and to the ends | of the earth. Alleluia. (Acts 1:8)

Nota bene: For an inspiring meditation on Mt. 16:13-19, see ch. 12 in CHRISTOPH BLUMHARDT AND HIS MESSAGE, online at :

[ Blumhardt is recalled as the Swiss Lutheran who became a Socialist,
and also a strong influence on the theology of Karl Barth. ]

Third Sunday after Epiphany

January 25, 2009 (Lectionary 3)
Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Psalm 62:5-12 (6)
1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Mark 1:14-20

Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, by grace alone you call us and accept us in your service. Strengthen us by your Spirit, and make us worthy of your call, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia. The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God | has come near;
repent, and believe | in the good news. Alleluia. (Mark 1:15)

1a. Text / Context: MARK 1:14-20 [Translation composite]

Now after John was arrested, Jesus passed into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news." As Jesus passed along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew (who were fishermen) casting a net into the sea. And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of people." And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James, the son of Zebedee, and John, his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

1b. Text (NRSV): Mark 1:14-20

1:14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God,

1:15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news."

1:16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea-- for they were fishermen.

1:17 And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you fish for people."

1:18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him.

1:19 As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets.

1:20 Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.


14μετα δε το παραδοθηναι τον ιωαννην ηλθεν ο ιησους εις την γαλιλαιαν κηρυσσων το ευαγγελιον του θεου 15και λεγων οτι πεπληρωται ο καιρος και ηγγικεν η βασιλεια του θεου: μετανοειτε και πιστευετε εν τω ευαγγελιω. 16και παραγων παρα την θαλασσαν της γαλιλαιας ειδεν σιμωνα και ανδρεαν τον αδελφον σιμωνος αμφιβαλλοντας εν τη θαλασση: ησαν γαρ αλιεις. 17και ειπεν αυτοις ο ιησους, δευτε οπισω μου, και ποιησω υμας γενεσθαι αλιεις ανθρωπων. 18και ευθυς αφεντες τα δικτυα ηκολουθησαν αυτω. 19και προβας ολιγον ειδεν ιακωβον τον του ζεβεδαιου και ιωαννην τον αδελφον αυτου, και αυτους εν τω πλοιω καταρτιζοντας τα δικτυα, 20και ευθυς εκαλεσεν αυτους. και αφεντες τον πατερα αυτων ζεβεδαιον εν τω πλοιω μετα των μισθωτων απηλθον οπισω αυτου.
Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition
© 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;

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

Context - In the introduction to this volume of LEXEGETE by Prof.Edgar Krentz, it was noted that Mark 1:14 begins the longest (Mk 1:14-8:30) of the four divisions of the Marcan gospel: "Jesus' ministry in Galilee: the Proclamation of the Kingdom in Word and Deed." Within this context, there are four major themes, of which, cogent for our study, is the call and commissioning of the disciples for proclamation. Jesus' ministry, by tradition, begins shortly after his thirtieth birthday (Lk 3:23), following the arrest of John the Baptist (Mk 1:14 and parallels). Historical criticism has indicated that this is a fairly accurate timetable for the start of Jesus' ministry based on two facts well documented in history:

1.) The birth of Jesus in 4 B.C. during the reign of Herod the Great
(Mt.2:1, Lk.1:5-ff), and

2.) The arrest of John the Baptist in 28 AD for his opposition to the
Levirate marriage of Herod Antipas to his sister-in-law Herodias (Lk.3:19).

Jesus begins his ministry in his home territory, Galilee (Mk 1:14), where he is well known, even by the demons (Mk 1:24,34). He does not begin his ministry in the center of Jewish life, Jerusalem, but, rather, in that outpost of Jewish culture, Galilee, the least desirable part of the tetrarchy left to the sons of Herod the Great. This is not to say that Galilee had nothing to offer. Protected from the harsh Mediterranean winds, this "land between the desert and the sea" surrounding the sea of Galilee was then, as it is today, a fertile and beautiful land in contrast to much of the land surrounding it. Further, fishing on the Sea of Galilee, a large inland lake, was a major commercial enterprise. (For example, Tarchea on Galilee was the home of a major salt fishing industry, and its very name, Tarchea, means “to salt.”)

With this in mind, our Gospel begins with Jesus coming to the sea of Galilee to call disciples. We often think of these disciples as humble fishermen, but this is only a half-truth. Andrew and Peter own their own boat, and the family of Zebedee has a fishing business that employs at least five males (Mk. 1:19).
If they had been unsuccessful as fishermen, unable to profit from their livelihood, their call would have been “without cost,” for there would have been nothing to lose.

But as Bonhoeffer has suggested, there is always a “cost of Discipleship,” for when Christ calls a person, “he calls them forth to die.” The call of Peter and Andrew, James and John involves many costs: financial (to be sure), social, and personal. It is an exclusive call, a call to follow the one who can give them eternal life: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68; cf. also Pentecost 14 for a further treatment of this text.)

2. ANALYSIS: Mark 1:14-20

In MARK AS STORY, David Rhoads and Donald Mitchie once suggested that the Gospel of Mark can be understood using literary analysis; analyzing this shortest gospel (which they suggest was originally intended to be retold in a dramatic representation) can be understood in terms of its literary devices--its plot, its characters, its rhetorical devices. In our text from Mark 1:14-20, there are essentially two “characters”:

1) Jesus, and

2) Those whom Jesus calls (Peter and Andrew, James and John).

Jesus is characterized in this text as a complex person, whose words show self-understanding, and whose deeds show God’s revelation. He is called (by others) “son of God” and elicits fear, offense, amazement, fierce loyalty and determined opposition from those who meet him. In Mark’s Gospel, the term “disciple,” is only used for the twelve men that Jesus calls to follow him, and specifically, in this text, it refers only to the four (two sets of brothers) fishermen who follow him. Jesus identifies each by name, and three of the four (Simon Peter, James and John) become part of Jesus’ inner circle. The disciples in Mark’s gospel are viewed both favorably and unfavorably; favorably because they are loyal followers of Jesus, unfavorably because they fail to understand Jesus and do not imitate their “rabbi” (teacher) as good disciples should.
They struggle with issues of fidelity and loyalty, with fears and doubts. It is their struggles which allow Jesus to teach about faith and discipleship, and through their struggles the reader is brought to struggle with these very same issues.

3. Strategy: Mark 1:14-20

Christians are to be “little Christs.” To be called at baptism means to be pulled away from those things which would keep us from God. In Christ, as St. Paul reminds us, we are no longer our old selves, but new people of God. For us, no less than the first four disciples, the call of discipleship often means giving up something “near and dear.” In the case of the original four disciples, it meant giving up a profitable livelihood. For us, it may mean giving up cherished notions of how we are supposed to act, in order to “put on Christ.” Just as the hearers of Mark’s gospel were challenged to both emulate the good points of the early disciples and to avoid their failings, so the disciple of today is to pick up both the joy and the challenge of discipleship. As Bonhoeffer suggested, there is a “cost of Discipleship”; we are called forth to “die” to sin, so that we may be raised to new life, just as Jesus gave his life for us.

4. References: Mark 1:14-20

Reicke, Bo. The New Testament Era: The World of the Bible from 500 BC to AD 100. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1968.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship. NY: MacMillan, 1959, 1963.

Rhoads, David and Donald Mitchie. Mark as Story: An Introduction to the Narrative of a Gospel. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1982.

5. Music Suggestions: Mark 1:14-20

“Come Follow Me, the Savior spake” (LBW 455)

“They Cast Their Nets” (HB 661; LBW 449)

“Jesus Calls Us, O’er the Tumult” (HB 449-50; LBW 494)

Exegete: The Rev. Dr. George J. Koch Jr. is a longtime leader in the movement for study of Theology and Science within the ELCA and is currently an Interim Minister in the Metro Chicago Synod of the ELCA. His special field of study is Cognitive Science and the future of Artificial Intelligence, the subject of his doctoral dissertation at Andover Newton Theological Seminary.

Conversion of Paul

January 26, 2009 (transferred from January 25)

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity ends
Acts 9:1-22
Psalm 67 (3)
Galatians 1:11-24
Luke 21:10-19

Prayer of the Day

O God, by the preaching of your apostle Paul you have caused the light of the gospel to shine throughout the world. Grant that we may follow his example and be witnesses to the truth of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia. This Jesus | God raised up,
and of that all of | us are witnesses. Alleluia. (Acts 2:32)

1a. CONTEXT: Luke 21:10-19

1b. TEXT: Luke 21:10-19


Jesus Foretells Wars and Persecution

10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. 13 This will be your opportunity to bear witness. 14 Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers [3] and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. 17 You will be hated by all for my name's sake. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.


10τοτε ελεγεν αυτοις, εγερθησεται εθνος επ εθνος και βασιλεια επι βασιλειαν, 11σεισμοι τε μεγαλοι και κατα τοπους λιμοι και λοιμοι εσονται, φοβητρα τε και απ ουρανου σημεια μεγαλα εσται. 12προ δε τουτων παντων επιβαλουσιν εφ υμας τας χειρας αυτων και διωξουσιν, παραδιδοντες εις τας συναγωγας και φυλακας, απαγομενους επι βασιλεις και ηγεμονας ενεκεν του ονοματος μου: 13αποβησεται υμιν εις μαρτυριον. 14θετε ουν εν ταις καρδιαις υμων μη προμελεταν απολογηθηναι, 15εγω γαρ δωσω υμιν στομα και σοφιαν η ου δυνησονται αντιστηναι η αντειπειν απαντες οι αντικειμενοι υμιν. 16παραδοθησεσθε δε και υπο γονεων και αδελφων και συγγενων και φιλων, και θανατωσουσιν εξ υμων, 17και εσεσθε μισουμενοι υπο παντων δια το ονομα μου. 18και θριξ εκ της κεφαλης υμων ου μη αποληται. 19εν τη υπομονη υμων κτησασθε τας ψυχας υμων.
Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition © 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;
The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition © 1975, United Bible Societies, London

For me, the context of this celebration of St. Paul’s Conversion is threefold. First of all, this Gospel is a vivid reminder of the centrality of repentance/metanoia in the life of the Christian converted in Holy Baptism. The stakes are high! Second, it is a vivid reminder that the call to conversion is also a call to the spirituality and practice of Peace, Shalom. Finally, it is a tragic reminder reminder of how far we as believers have yet to travel before we will really have taken upon ourselves the yoke and the cross of Christ. As I write these words, it is only two weeks until America will inaugurate its first African American President, a moment which the whole world will celebrate with us as a milestone of freedom. Yet at the same time it is sobering to realize that he will
inherit an economy on the brink of despair, along with two wars, and two weeks of bombing and destruction in Gaza. “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.”

Famine, plague, and pestilence are readily visible in this 21st century kosmos of ours. They exist side-by-side with slavery, persecution, and martyrdom of all kinds. For many of us, this all arrives in the wake of 9/11/01. In my work with the Board of Homeland Security for the past two years, I have learned that there is no “if” language for the coming Flu Pandemic. WHEN it arrives (as unpredictable, yet as sure as Kingdom Come), it will be global, lightning fast, and it will be difficult to prepare for it.
Our grandparents were mostly not ready for the 1918 Pandemic, but they barely had the technology and medicine we have at our disposal (in the developed countries).
And so it goes. I have often found the Church’s rambling “memorials,” decrees and pronunciamentos to be a waste of energy. Yet a prescient one appeared in 2001, drawn up by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in response to 9/11. It is remarkable in that it does not attempt to label “good guys” or “bad guys” in the world, but rather throws the spotlight and a long list of “unfinished business” from Gaza to Sudan (most of which remains unfinished almost ten years later!).


David A. Buehler, PhD | MacAdemia™
Providence College, RI

PS: The Full "Pastoral Message for 9/11" is found online at: [© USCCB ]


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