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Monday, May 11, 2009

+ E A S T E R SIX + A S C E N S I O N DAY +

Lexegete ™ | Year B | St. Mark

Sixth Sunday of Easter • May 17, 2009
Acts 10:44-48
Psalm 98 (4)
1 John 5:1-6
John 15:9-17

Prayer of the Day
O God, you have prepared for those who love you joys beyond understanding. Pour into our hearts such love for you that, loving you above all things, we may obtain your promises, which exceed all we can desire; through Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia. Those who love me will keep my word, and my Fa- | ther will love them,
and we will come to them and make our | home with them. Alleluia. (John 14:23)


1a. CONTEXT: JOHN 15:9-17

For the context of this pericope in the discourse in the upper room, see the Lexegete “Easter5.YrB” document.

Interpreters divide 15:1-17 at different points. Donald G. Miller in The New Oxford Annotated Bible RSV follows the division made by the RSV editors (also found in the NRSV). He finds in vv. 1-11 "The believer's relation to Christ--abide," and in vv. 12-17 "The relation of believers to one another--love." Brown sees in vv. 1-6 the mashal of the Vine and the Branches and in vv. 7-17 development of the mashal in the context of the Last Discourse. Bultmann gives much the same rubrics to the two parts of 15:1-17 as does Miller (meinate en emoi -- meinate en te agape ), but divides the passage as do the two pericopes of 5 and 6 Easter. He finds vv. 9-17 running parallel to vv. 1-8. There is reference to the Father in both vv. 1 and 9. "You have already been cleansed by the word" of v. 3 corresponds to "You are my friends" of v. 14 (cf. v. 15, "I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything"). The motif "apart from me you can do nothing" of vv. 4-5 is paralleled in v. 16, "You did not choose me but I chose you." Finally, in both vv. 7 and 16b there is the assurance that the disciple's prayer will be heard. The difference to be noted in vv. 9-17 is that, though there is one reference to bearing fruit, the imagery of abiding in the vine has been replaced by abiding in love.

1b. TEXT: JOHN 15:9-17


9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, [1] for the servant [2] does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

[1] 15:15 Greek bondservants
[2] 15:15 Greek bondservant; also verse 20

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version t © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers


9καθὼς ἠγάπησέν με ὁ πατήρ, κἀγὼ ὑμᾶς ἠγάπησα: μείνατε ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ τῇ ἐμῇ. 10ἐὰν τὰς ἐντολάς μου τηρήσητε, μενεῖτε ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ μου, καθὼς ἐγὼ τὰς ἐντολὰς τοῦ πατρός μου τετήρηκα καὶ μένω αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ. 11Ταῦτα λελάληκα ὑμῖν ἵνα ἡ χαρὰ ἡ ἐμὴ ἐν ὑμῖν ᾖ καὶ ἡ χαρὰ ὑμῶν πληρωθῇ. 12αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ ἐντολὴ ἡ ἐμή, ἵνα ἀγαπᾶτε ἀλλήλους καθὼς ἠγάπησα ὑμᾶς: 13μείζονα ταύτης ἀγάπην οὐδεὶς ἔχει, ἵνα τις τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ θῇ ὑπὲρ τῶν φίλων αὐτοῦ. 14ὑμεῖς φίλοι μού ἐστε ἐὰν ποιῆτε ἃ ἐγὼ ἐντέλλομαι ὑμῖν. 15οὐκέτι λέγω ὑμᾶς δούλους, ὅτι ὁ δοῦλος οὐκ οἶδεν τί ποιεῖ αὐτοῦ ὁ κύριος: ὑμᾶς δὲ εἴρηκα φίλους, ὅτι πάντα ἃ ἤκουσα παρὰ τοῦ πατρός μου ἐγνώρισα ὑμῖν. 16οὐχ ὑμεῖς με ἐξελέξασθε, ἀλλ' ἐγὼ ἐξελεξάμην ὑμᾶς καὶ ἔθηκα ὑμᾶς ἵνα ὑμεῖς ὑπάγητε καὶ καρπὸν φέρητε καὶ ὁ καρπὸς ὑμῶν μένῃ, ἵνα ὅ τι ἂν αἰτήσητε τὸν πατέρα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου δῷ ὑμῖν. 17ταῦτα ἐντέλλομαι ὑμῖν, ἵνα ἀγαπᾶτε ἀλλήλους.
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 15:9-17

15:9-10. Kathos egapesen . . . kago . . . egapesa. Ean tas entolas mou teresete, meneite en te agape mou. Jesus has loved the disciples in the manner that he has been loved by the Father. To remain in this love the disciples are exhorted to keep Jesus' commandments.

15:11. Chara . . . plerothe. Jesus' joy springs out of his obedience to the Father. If for the disciples keeping Jesus' commandments follows from abiding in love, Jesus' exhortation need not cause anxiety but can be an occasion for joy (Bultmann).. See the following other references to joy being fulfilled/complete: 3:29, 16:24, 17:13.

15:12. Haute estin he entole he eme, hina agapate allelous. The commandments become in the last analysis the one love commandment, in 13:34 called a new commandment. Macgregor states that it is old in the letter (Lev. 19:18), though new because it calls for a special love of Christian to Christian (philadelphia ) in distinction to universal agape. Tertullian observed, "The heathen are wont to exclaim with wonder, 'See how these Christians love one another!'" In vv. 9-12 there is a chain of love. The Father loves Jesus; Jesus loves the disciples; they are to love each other as Jesus has loved them (Brown).

15:13. Meizona tautes agapen oudeis echei . . . The high water mark of love is self-sacrifice. Since the example of such sacrifice is to be found in Jesus' love, this cannot be simply risking one's life, but willingly yielding it, laying it down. For early Christians vv. 12-13 became one of the great justifications for martyrdom. Jewish teachers, on the other hand, reject such a sweeping demand for self-sacrifice (Brown).

If it is asserted that there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends, some suggest that Rom. 5:8 ("While we still were sinners Christ died for us") and Matt. 5:44 ("Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you") define a different understanding of Jesus' self-sacrifice and an even greater love. Temple, on the other hand, says that this is to overstress the word friends. "It does not here represent those who love Him but those whom He loves; the saying declares that love has no more complete expression than death on behalf of those to whom it is directed; the distinction between those who return that love and those who do not, does not arise" (267).

15:14-15. Humeis philoi mou este, ean poiete . . . Ouketi lego humas doulous . . . The friends are no esoteric group, for Jesus' death, his act of love, makes possible the giving of the Spirit to all who will believe, and this Spirit begets all believers as children of God (Brown). To be a servant/slave of God is not elsewhere in the Bible considered to be demeaning (cf. Amos 3:7, Luke 17:10, Rom. 1:1). The distinction intended is that, whereas the servant/slave does not understand the master's purpose, the friend does. The love commandment makes such understanding possible. "Friend of the Emperor" was an official Roman title. Abraham was said to be a friend of God, 2 Chron. 20:7, Isa. 41:8, James 2:23.

15:16. Ouch humeis me exelexasthe, all' ego exelexamen humas . . According to the Fourth Evangelist it is not the case that the meaning of the life and death of Jesus was laid bare to the world, while only some few chose to accept him. The truth is the reverse (14:22). The Son selected the few and initiated them into the mystery of his death, in order that they might go forth and declare the truth to the world (Hoskyns).

The command to go implies launching forth from the inner circle of love to the needy world without (Macgregor). The call the disciples received was their power and their fruit bearing consisted in the success of their apostolic labors as well as in the perfecting personal character (Bernard). Hina ho ti an aitesete . . . do humin. The promise that prayer will be answered is repeated. This time it is stated that prayer is to be in Jesus' name, thus a petition that Jesus himself could offer (Bernard).

15:17. Tauta entellomai . . . agapate allelous. The love commandment of v. 12 (and 13:34) is repeated. To translate as does the NRSV, "I am giving you these commands . . ," is to refer not simply to the one love commandment but also to the exhortation in v. 4, "Abide in me as I abide you." Thus faith and love are joined. "In his decision of faith the believer anticipates the concrete decisions called for by the claims of his brother in everyday life. . . . Faith is at once the resolute decision for the word that has been heard, and the resoluteness that embraces all possible future decisions" (Bultmann, 547).

3. STRATEGY: JOHN 15:9-17

As the exegesis has indicated, the two gospel pericopes for 5 and 6 Easter are closely related. 15:1-8 could be said to deal with faith and 15:9-17 with obedience. Faith is often regarded as primarily receptive, whereas it is recognized that obedience requires activity. Yet to abide/remain in the risen Jesus requires endurance. On the other hand, faith and obedience are intimately united. They do not in a temporal sense succeed each other. Those who abide in Christ also by virtue of that fact love.

Nonetheless decision is needed as to how love should express itself. At this point the initiative obedience requires is seen, especially when one is summoned by love to lay down one's life. It is unlikely that the evangelist is thinking of doing this in the course of armed hostilities, though such a sacrifice can be required of some. What are the circumstances today that might require a Christian to lay down his/her life? In situations of persecution, should one seek martyrdom or await a changed situation that will permit a more public witness and practice of one's faith? Does the church need survivors as well as martyrs? How useful is the concept of living sacrifice, to which Paul refers in Rom. 12:1-2?

Another approach to this pericope would be to describe the Christian life as a call to friendship. There can be friendship with God because we who were enemies have been reconciled to God by the death of Jesus (Rom. 5:10). There is the friendship which results from having been chosen by Jesus and appointed to a ministry of fruit bearing. There is also a friendship experienced among those who are chosen in this way, who are called to love each other. The mission with which we have been entrusted does not, however, permit us to stay in this cosy circle of chosen ones, but it draws us out and sends us forth to befriend all sorts and conditions of women, men, and children everywhere. Wider and wider the circle expands!


Barrett, C. K. The Gospel according to St John. London: S.P.C.K., 1958.

Bernard, J. H. Gospel according to St. John, vol. II, ICC. New York:
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1919.

Brown, Raymond E. The Gospel according to John, Anchor Bible, vol. 29A. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1970.

Bultmann, Rudolf. The Gospel of John. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1971.

Hoskyns, Edwyn C. The Fourth Gospel, edited by F. N. Davey, 2nd ed.
London: Faber & Faber, 1947.

Macgregor, G. H. C. The Gospel of John. New York: Harper's, 1928.

The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha RSV. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.

Temple, William. Readings in St. John's Gospel. London: Macmillan, 1950.

Exegete: Bernhard Erling, PhD, ThD,

Dr. S. Bernhard Erling is Professor Emeritus of Religion at Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minnesota. Dr. Erlng holds degrees from Gustavus Adolphus (B.A.), Augustana Theol. Seminary (B.D.), Chicago (M.A.), Yale (Ph.D.), and Lund (Th.D.). He is author of a study of Anders Nygren, Nature and History [Studia theologica lundensia : Skrifter utgivna av Teologiska fakulteten], Lund: C.W.K. Gleerup, 1960; and A Reader’s Guide to Dag Hammarskjold’s Waymarks (St. Peter, MN, 1999.)


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Tischrede Software

Dartmouth, MA 02747-1925


Ascension of Our Lord • May 21, 2009
Acts 1:1-11
Psalm 47 (5) or Psalm 93 (2)
Ephesians 1:15-23
Luke 24:44-53

Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, your only Son was taken into the heavens and in your presence intercedes for us. Receive us and our prayers for all the world, and in the end bring everything into your glory, through Jesus Christ, our Sovereign and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Almighty God, your blessed Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things. Mercifully give us faith to trust that, as he promised, he abides with us on earth to the end of time, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia. Go and make disciples of all nations, | says the Lord;
I am with you always, to the end | of the age. Alleluia. (Matt. 28:19, 20)


1a. Context : Luke 24:44-53

Mark contains no Ascension narrative. The BCP permits parts of
Mark 16:9-20 as a substitute for Luke, but this is not recommended.

24:44-53 follows three quite different accounts of the risen Lord,
a rewriting of Mark's story of the empty tomb (24:1-12);
the recognition scene at Emmaus (24:13-35), which concludes
when the two disciples report to the Eleven and learn that some

others have already seen Jesus and Jesus' appearance to the Eleven
(24:36-43). Jesus eats in their presence and thus shows that
he is no mere phantasm.

The pericope is linked with other parts of Luke-Acts. The Temple
(vs, 53) is the scene of much of Ch. 1-2, all of Jesus' teaching in
Jerusalem is given there, and it is where the apostles preach (in Acts).
The preaching of repentance and forgiveness of sins is a theme of
both the Gospel and Acts .

Luke has the Ascension in mind at least from the Transfiguration ~ scene on. Moses and Elijah speak of Jesus' exodus which he will complete
in Jerusalem (9:31). The cloud (singular, 9:34) corresponds both to the
cloud in Exod. 24 :15-18; 34:5 and to the cloud of the Ascension
(Acts 1:9). When Jesus "sets his face" to go to Jerusalem it is because
the time is ready for his taking up ( analeimpsis, 9:51 ). This obviously
refers to the Ascension. Though the Resurrection is all-important , it is
climaxed in this last event. In Luke's theology this "centre of time," the
era of salvation, will be followed by the next part of sacred history, the
period of the Spirit and the Church.

1b. Text: Luke 24:44-53


44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version t © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers


44 Εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς, Οὗτοι οἱ λόγοι μου οὓς ἐλάλησα πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἔτι ὢν σὺν ὑμῖν, ὅτι δεῖ πληρωθῆναι πάντα τὰ γεγραμμένα ἐν τῷ νόμῳ Μωϋσέως καὶ τοῖς προφήταις καὶ ψαλμοῖς περὶ ἐμοῦ.
45τότε διήνοιξεν αὐτῶν τὸν νοῦν τοῦ συνιέναι τὰς γραφάς.
46καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὅτι Οὕτως γέγραπται παθεῖν τὸν Χριστὸν καὶ ἀναστῆναι ἐκ νεκρῶν τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ,
47καὶ κηρυχθῆναι ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ μετάνοιαν εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν εἰς πάντα τὰ ἔθνη ἀρξάμενοι ἀπὸ Ἰερουσαλήμ:
48ὑμεῖς μάρτυρες τούτων.
49καὶ [ἰδοὺ] ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν τοῦ πατρός μου ἐφ' ὑμᾶς: ὑμεῖς δὲ καθίσατε ἐν τῇ πόλει ἕως οὗ ἐνδύσησθε ἐξ ὕψους δύναμιν.
50Ἐξήγαγεν δὲ αὐτοὺς [ἔξω] ἕως πρὸς Βηθανίαν, καὶ ἐπάρας τὰς χεῖρας αὐτοῦ εὐλόγησεν αὐτούς.
51καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ εὐλογεῖν αὐτὸν αὐτοὺς διέστη ἀπ' αὐτῶν καὶ ἀνεφέρετο εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν.
52καὶ αὐτοὶ προσκυνήσαντες αὐτὸν ὑπέστρεψαν εἰς Ἰερουσαλὴμ μετὰ χαρᾶς μεγάλης,
53καὶ ἦσαν διὰ παντὸς ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ εὐλογοῦντες τὸν θεόν.

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 24:44-53

vs. 44. "The words that I spoke to you:" see especially
18:31 (third Passion Prediction); but also 12:49-53; 13-34 f.;
17:22-33. The Law, the Prophets and the Psalms are the three
divisions of the Hebrew Bible; the Psalms are the most important
part of the writings .

vs. 45. To understand the Scriptures; cf. 24:27.

vs. 46. The language resembles the first Passion Prediction
(9:22) but is closest to the third (18:31-33).

vs. 47. Repentance and forgiveness of sins is a familiar
theme in Luke (7:47 f.; Chap. 15; 17:4) and in Acts it is offered
not only to Jews(Acts 2:3, 8; 3:19 f.) but also to all nations
(Acts 10:43; 13:38 f.).

vs. 49. Cf. Acts 1:4; 2:1-13.

vs. 51. There is excellent evidence both for including and
omitting the clause "and was carried up into heaven." In any
case, on this occasion (presumably the Sunday evening of the
Resurrection) he was “parted from them” so that for the time
being they no longer saw him.

Luke probably designed his writings from the outset as a
two-volume work, and we have seen that the Ascension, as the
climax of Jesus' earthly ministry, has been foreshadowed more
than once. It would be natural for him to suggest it here.
A copyist may have thought,however, that the clause in
this verse duplicated the account in Acts and disagreed with
the chronology of forty days.

The Ascension: Pharisees and early Christians most often
thought that the blessed future life would begin at the general
resurrection. But they also believed that certain individuals

went immediately after death into the presence of God-- Moses,
Elijah and the martyrs of the Maccabaean Period (cf. especially
4 i.Macc.), This type of eschatology may be reflected in Mark
12:26 f.s Luke 20:37 f.; and certainly in Luke 16:19-31.

The earliest Christians seem to have regarded the Resurrection
and Ascension as not separated in time, and the concept of
Jesus' return to his Father was influenced by Ps. 110:1 and
Dan. 7:13; cf. Phil. 2:9 and especially John 20:17. But Jesus
was seen by various persons for some time afterward. Paul speaks
of his appearance to more than five hundred Christians and the
Apostle himself saw the Lord at a later time (1 Cor. 15:
5, 8). There were other traditions of Christ's appearance, and
these provided an opportunity to compose accounts of his post-
resurrection teaching. The Epistle of the Apostles is more or
less "orthodox," while several Gnostic tractates make fantastic
use of this device.

The effect of Luke-Acts is to confine the authoritative teaching
of the risen Christ to the fairly brief period of forty days.
Acts 1:1-11 closes this classic period of revelation through
Jesus' farewell. This by no means excludes the possibility of
other occasional appearances, as to Saul of Tarsus on the road
to Damascus (Acts 9:3-6).

3. Strategy: Luke 24:44-53

The cosmology that everyone has learned--through television
if in no other way--in which there is no "up" or "down" and the
universe spans millions of light-years, does not seem to have
disturbed most Christians as they celebrate the Ascension.

They feel instinctively that the language is poetic and symbolic,
for "heaven" is where God is. One lesson of the Ascension is
that believers no longer need the physical presence of Jesus;
in a true sense he is always present in the Holy Spirit, who
supplies all that is needful (John 14:18, 26; 16:12 f.).

The pericope has other possibilities:

(l)Luke's distinctive understanding of how Christ fulfills the O.T.,
which is not identical with those of Matthew and Paul. For him it
was sufficient that the Passion was necessary as a stage toward
Jesus' glorification.

(2) Repentance and the forgiveness of sins seems at first only to
repeat the message of the O.T. and Judaism, but it leads to the
promise from Jesus' Father, i.e. endowment with the Holy Spirit,
which brings all the gifts of the new age and is experienced in
community (note Acts 4:23-31 and the prayer contained in it.

(3)The theme of witness in the gospel and Acts.

Exegete: Sherman Johnson, PhD, ThD †
Dean Emeritus, Visiting Professor of New Testament
Church Divinity School of the Pacific , Episcopal Church in America

4. Suggested References: Luke 24:44-53

Stanley, David M. and R.E. Brown. "Aspects of New Testament Thought," ch.
78 of THE JEROME BIBLICAL COMMENTARY , ed. R.E. Brown, J. A. Fitzmyer
and R.O.Murphy. Englewood Cliffs,NJ: Prentice-Hall, l968.

Stuhlmueller, Carrol, O.P. "The Gospel According to St. Luke," ch. 44 of THE
JEROME BIBLICAL COMMENTARY, ed. R.E. Brown, J.A. Fitzmyer and R.O.
Murphy. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, l968.

5. MUSIC SUGGESTIONS: Luke 24:44-53

The way in which modern people might think about the
Ascension is expressed well in Howard Robbins ' hymn,”And have the
bright immensities received our Risen Lord?,” # 459 in the 1982
Episcopal Hymnal. Other suggestions for this day include:

HAIL, THEE, FESTIVAL DAY!, a familiar hymn in the Episcopal tradition also
included in the Lutheran Book of Worship (LBW 142, HB 216).

Also traditional for Ascension Day are LOOK, THE SIGHT IS GLORIOUS
(LBW 156) and ALLELUIA, SING TO JESUS (LBW 158, HB460-1).
[If only one hymn is sung ( at a special brief eucharistic service), the best options are LBW 158, HB 406-1, or LORD, ENTHRONED IN HOLY SPLENDOR (LBW 172, HB 307). ]


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Tischrede Software

Dartmouth, MA 02747-1925


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