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Monday, September 14, 2009

+ P E N T E C O S T 16 + Sept. 20, 2009 +

L E X E G E T E ™ | Year B | St. Mark

Pentecost 16 | September 20, 2009 (Lectionary 25)

Complementary Series

Jeremiah 11:18-20 or Wisdom 1:16 – 2:1, 12-22
Psalm 54 (4)
James 3:13 – 4:3, 7-8a
Mark 9:30-37

Semicontinuous Series

Proverbs 31:10-31
Psalm 1 (3)
James 3:13 – 4:3, 7-8a
Mark 9:30-37

Prayer of the Day

O God, our teacher and guide, you draw us to yourself and welcome us as beloved children. Help us to lay aside all envy and selfish ambition, that we may walk in your ways of wisdom and understanding as servants of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia. God has called us through the proclamation of | the good news,
that we may obtain the glory of our Lord | Jesus Christ. Alleluia. (2 Thess. 2:14)


1a. Context: Mark 9:30-37
Mark's approach to sharing the Gospel was to take one life (Jesus of Nazareth),
use one phase of that life (Jesus' public ministry), and interpret it from one perspective
(Jesus' death on the cross).
• The Structure of Mark's Approach:
• The authority of Jesus revealed
•The authority of Jesus rejected
• The gathering of a new community
• The Journey to Jerusalem as the Way of the Cross
• The Judgment on Jerusalem
• The Passion and Resurrection of Jesus
The Journey to Jerusalem description provided Mark with a method of preparing for the events of the
Passion in Jerusalem. Mark does this in a fast-moving series:
• The First Prediction of his Death by Jesus
• Series of teachings (including the Transfiguration event and the healing of
the boy the disciples could not help)
• The Second Prediction of his Death by Jesus
- The Third Prediction of his Death by Jesus
- The Healing of a Blind Man
This lesson for Pentecost 18/ Proper 20 is The Second Prediction of His Death by Jesus in 9:30-37. Each of these
three "Prediction" sections follow the same format:
- Jesus' prediction of his death
- Misunderstanding by the disciples
- Jesus' teaching about the nature of discipleship

1b. Text: Translation / Mark 9:30-37:

They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to
know where they were, because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, "The
Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after
three days he will rise." But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to
ask him about it. They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked
them, "What were you arguing about on the road?" But they kept quiet because on the
way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the
Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant
of all." He took a child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he
said to them, "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes
me; and ;whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me."

- OR –
9:30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it;
9:31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and
they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again."
9:32 But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.
9:33 Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you arguing
about on the way?"
9:34 But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest.
9:35 He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant
of all."
9:36 Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them,
9:37 "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me."


30Κἀκεῖθεν ἐξελθόντες παρεπορεύοντο διὰ τῆς Γαλιλαίας, καὶ οὐκ ἤθελεν ἵνα τις γνοῖ:
31ἐδίδασκεν γὰρ τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς ὅτι Ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου παραδίδοται εἰς χεῖρας ἀνθρώπων, καὶ ἀποκτενοῦσιν αὐτόν, καὶ ἀποκτανθεὶς μετὰ τρεῖς ἡμέρας ἀναστήσεται.
32οἱ δὲ ἠγνόουν τὸ ῥῆμα, καὶ ἐφοβοῦντο αὐτὸν ἐπερωτῆσαι.
33Καὶ ἦλθον εἰς Καφαρναούμ. καὶ ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ γενόμενος ἐπηρώτα αὐτούς, Τί ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ διελογίζεσθε;
34οἱ δὲ ἐσιώπων, πρὸς ἀλλήλους γὰρ διελέχθησαν ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ τίς μείζων.
35καὶ καθίσας ἐφώνησεν τοὺς δώδεκα καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς, Εἴ τις θέλει πρῶτος εἶναι ἔσται πάντων ἔσχατος καὶ πάντων διάκονος.
36καὶ λαβὼν παιδίον ἔστησεν αὐτὸ ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῶν καὶ ἐναγκαλισάμενος αὐτὸ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς,
37 Ὃς ἂν ἓν τῶν τοιούτων παιδίων δέξηται ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου, ἐμὲ δέχεται: καὶ ὃς ἂν ἐμὲ δέχηται, οὐκ ἐμὲ δέχεται ἀλλὰ τὸν ἀποστείλαντά με.

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 9:30-37
In the previously reported healing of the boy, the disciples were unable to heal In the previously reported healing of the boy, the disciples were unable to heal him. Jesus did so quickly upon his return from the Mount of Transfiguration. When the disciples asked why he could do what they could not, Jesus had explained: "This kind
can come out only through prayer." While he had just come from prayer on the mountain, Jesus seemed to mean more. This kind of power was available only in a constant relation to God of prayer.

Jesus is then reported to give his second prediction of his death in Jerusalem.
He can talk of facing his death because of the ongoing relationship to God or prayer.
Mark wants it clear that the life of faithfulness to God--facing death on the cross--or
living in the early Church required that constant relationship to God of prayer.
To "welcome the little child" must be understood in the context of true greatness.
The disciples had argued over which was the most important, who was greater Jesus defined greatness, importance,
with another frame of reference. Instead of status, wealth, or power, Jesus offered the criteria of service. To
welcome and care for a child, or any who is helpless and requires a high level of care, is to be truly important in God's sight.

This passage juxtaposes Jesus' prediction that he would die in Jerusalem with
the disciples scrambling for honor and recognition. True greatness is not in fame or
power. True greatness is found in serving those in society who are weak, helpless,
demanding. To care more about a child is to welcome God into one's life.
Discipleship is found in serving others, not in achieving social prominence. Jesus will
provide the supreme example for his followers when he will go to the cross rather than
turn from his effort to win people to faith and fellowship with God.

vs. 31 - edidasken - teaching - Mark explains that the nature of the section (including
the prediction, the understanding, and the explanation) was teaching. While the
immediate context is Jesus' effort to help the disciples understand the meaning of his
death and resurrection and how to live in faithful discipleship, Mark's intention seems
to be to let Jesus' teaching become a guide of his contemporaries for living in faithful discipleship.

vs. 34 - meizon - greater, prominent - The term is used in reference to social rank or standing. The disciples were seeking social status according to the criteria of their society. Jesus offered standing in the community of faith that
used another criterion.

vs. 35 - protos - first, most important; most prominent - When used in reference to
social rank, it indicates most important; While the disciples sought social prominence
by community standards, Jesus offered a prominence that met divine criteria.

vs. 35 - eschatos - last; least important, insignificant - Ironically, the prominence in
the community of faith that Jesus offered is based on being what society judges to be
insignificant, unimportant. Servants filled the lowest ranks of the society of his day.
To serve the insignificant members of society was to be at the bottom. Yet this position
on the bottom, being last, made one important in the society of faith.

vs. 35 - diakonos - servant; Here the word is used in its common everyday meaning. It referred to one who function was to meet the needs of someone else.

vs. 36 - paidion - In a family context, the word referred to a minor. In a social context, the word was used to refer to servants, courtiers, attendants. Jesus took a child of one of the disciples as an illustration of the truth he sought to impart. The double meaning would not have been lost on his disciples or Mark's contemporaries. Welcoming and caring for a child was also welcoming or caring for others on the bottom rungs of society.

v.s 36 - evangelkalizomai - holding in arms - This word is used only twice in the Bible, both times in Mark, here and in 10:16 where we are told Jesus took the children in his arms and blessed them. While it can be used to refer to taking an adult in one's arms, or hugging, with a child it probably means to pick up and hold. Certainly it is a term of closeness and intimacy.

vs. 37 - dexeitai - receive, accept - It was often used to refer to receiving one in a
home or welcoming. To welcome the outcasts of society is to welcome Jesus. To
welcome Jesus is to welcome God.

3. STRATEGY: Mark 9:30-37
At least three themes suggest themselves in this pericope:

1. Faithful discipleship includes the care for children
We live in a world that is not kind to children. Worldwide poverty, war, and
forced labor take a heavy toll on the world's little ones. We could assume that the
situation is significantly better in the United States, but that could be a false assumption. One need only begin with a list of child abuse, deteriorating resources for our educational system, drugs, poverty, the "hurried child" syndrome, and the vast number of single-parent families to realize that being a child in our society is not
necessarily a pleasant or positive experience. We could point fingers at other agencies: schools, health organizations, and government. But more than finger-pointing is needed. The church, the community founded by Jesus, must include care about children in its agenda. To "welcome these little ones" we may need to become advocates for the wellbeing of children in our society. We can speak up in public debate about national priorities and budget decisions to ensure that children are not forgotten. It is not enough to raise society's consciousness about the needs of children. As long as our society spends its money and energy (what it holds "dear") for other priorities, children will be harmed. If God is to be welcome in our churches, we must care for children.

2. Faithful discipleship includes the care of those on the bottom of society
While our theory and ideas may proclaim America a "classless" society, reality
portrays another picture. During the last ten years, the number of people who exist at
the bottom of society has grown rapidly. More individuals and families have moved
into the group below the "poverty line." We have become increasingly aware that
large numbers of our citizens are homeless. Increasing numbers of people cannot
read. Large numbers of youth drop out of school every year--joining the ranks of the
illiterate and the underclass. More and more, the decisions that affect the lives of us
all are made by those at the topic of society--both politically and economically. Few
and few citizens even bother to vote. More and more feel left out of the society.
Ironically, the church which in its origins was made up of large numbers from the
lowest levels of the social order has now become comfortably identified with the
middle and upper classes. Increasingly, American church members have contact with
those on the bottom only at Thanksgiving and Christmas when the charity "basket" is
delivered. Few of the poor attend worship, join Sunday School classes, or are elected
to official Boards and committees. If God is to be welcome in our churches, we must
welcome and help those who have the least power and are most without support in
our society.

3. Prominence in the community of faith is based on a completely different standard than the one used for social prominence.

One can only wonder where Christ would fit in today's American
Churches? Where would the one who washed his disciples' dusty feet find such servant leadership? Would our churches be any different from those castigated in James' Epistle? Are our church suppers more like those of Christ or those of the Pharisees?
Our churches have learned well from our society. We evaluate people,
performance, and value by the standards of those around us. Seldom are we leaven--
in the church, much less in society. Those who are respected, given honor and
prominence in the churches look very much like those who are respected and given
honor in the secular domain. One may look in vain to find quiet, meek servantleadership-- whether among the clergy or the laity. If believers will not follow the
example of Christ, who will? If God is to be welcome in our churches, we must pattern
our lives and leadership on the way of Christ.

4. Music Suggestions

All depends on our possessing (ELW 589)
Blest are the pure in heart (HB 656)
Holy God, we praise thy name (HB 366, ELW 414)
Lord, whose love in humble service (HB 610, ELW 712)
O Love, how deep, how broad, how high (HB 448/9, ELW 322)
O Love of God, how strong and true (HB 455/6)
O Master Let me Walk with Thee (HB 659/60, ELW 818)

Lexegete - Brian A. Nelson, D.Min. St. Paul, Minnesota


Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

September 21, 2009

Ezekiel 2:8—3:11
Psalm 119:33-40 (33)
Ephesians 2:4-10
Matthew 9:9-13

Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, your Son our Savior called a despised tax collector to become one of his apostles. Help us, like Matthew, to respond to the transforming call of Jesus Christ, 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)


L E X E G E T E ™

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