Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
January 31, 2010 (Lectionary 4)
Psalm 71:1-6 (6)
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Prayer of the Day
Almighty and ever-living God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and love; and that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command, through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
Alleluia. You shall go to all to | whom I send you.
Do not be afraid, for | I am with you. Alleluia. (Jer. 1:7, 8)
1a. CONTEXT: Luke 4:21-30
This reading follows closely upon the preceding one.
It's placement here is dependent upon the temptation
story. As is well known, Luke's order for the temptation
differs from that of Mark and Matthew. In the
temptations are to create bread, to rule the world, and to
leap from the temple. In other words, has tempted to be
relevant, to be powerful and to be spectacular. refuses
all three temptations and thereby redefines the meaning of
being the Son of God. But it has been demonstrated that
also has demonstrate that he can do each of the things
Satan as tempted him to do. He can escape harm, he can
show power, and he can provide food. works this out
using chiasmus. The first element is in this passage.
angers the crowd, they are on the verge of killing him
[Lk. 4:29], but "passing through the midst of them he went
away." [An Incl. Lang. Lectionary, AILL] He escapes
certain death, not with angels "bear(ing) him up," but
nevertheless an escape. He completes the chiasmus by
demonstrating power over Satan in the man with the unclean
spirit and in Capernaum, and finally by the miraculous
catch of fish. Thus to those who appreciate a fine
story, and some irony, demonstrates that is the Messiah,
on his own terms.
This reading obviously makes the theme of rejection
absolutely clear. In order that there appear to be no
confusion of Jesus' part as to where he stands Elijah and
Elisha are mentioned. The expectation for the return of
Elijah at the end of the age makes him a natural in any
Gospel. Here the point is that even the prophet most
venerated by Israel, spurned Israel at a crucial point.
1b. TEXT: Luke 4:21-30
21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph's son?”
23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.”
24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown.
25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land,
26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.
27 And there were many lepers  in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath.
29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff.
30 But passing through their midst, he went away.
 4:27 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by
Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
21ἤρξατο δὲ λέγειν πρὸς αὐτοὺς ὅτι Σήμερον πεπλήρωται ἡ γραφὴ αὕτη ἐν τοῖς ὠσὶν ὑμῶν.
22Καὶ πάντες ἐμαρτύρουν αὐτῷ καὶ ἐθαύμαζον ἐπὶ τοῖς λόγοις τῆς χάριτος τοῖς ἐκπορευομένοις ἐκ τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἔλεγον, Οὐχὶ υἱός ἐστιν Ἰωσὴφ οὗτος;
23καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς, Πάντως ἐρεῖτέ μοι τὴν παραβολὴν ταύτην: Ἰατρέ, θεράπευσον σεαυτόν: ὅσα ἠκούσαμεν γενόμενα εἰς τὴν Καφαρναοὺμ ποίησον καὶ ὧδε ἐν τῇ πατρίδι σου.
24εἶπεν δέ, Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι οὐδεὶς προφήτης δεκτός ἐστιν ἐν τῇ πατρίδι αὐτοῦ.
25ἐπ∍ ἀληθείας δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, πολλαὶ χῆραι ἦσαν ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις Ἠλίου ἐν τῷ Ἰσραήλ, ὅτε ἐκλείσθη ὁ οὐρανὸς ἐπὶ ἔτη τρία καὶ μῆνας ἕξ, ὡς ἐγένετο λιμὸς μέγας ἐπὶ πᾶσαν τὴν γῆν,
26καὶ πρὸς οὐδεμίαν αὐτῶν ἐπέμφθη Ἠλίας εἰ μὴ εἰς Σάρεπτα τῆς Σιδωνίας πρὸς γυναῖκα χήραν.
27καὶ πολλοὶ λεπροὶ ἦσαν ἐν τῷ Ἰσραὴλ ἐπὶ Ἐλισαίου τοῦ προφήτου, καὶ οὐδεὶς αὐτῶν ἐκαθαρίσθη εἰ μὴ Ναιμὰν ὁ Σύρος.
28καὶ ἐπλήσθησαν πάντες θυμοῦ ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ ἀκούοντες ταῦτα,
29καὶ ἀναστάντες ἐξέβαλον αὐτὸν ἔξω τῆς πόλεως, καὶ ἤγαγον αὐτὸν ἕως ὀφρύος τοῦ ὄρους ἐφ∍ οὗ ἡ πόλις ᾠκοδόμητο αὐτῶν, ὥστε κατακρημνίσαι αὐτόν:
30αὐτὸς δὲ διελθὼν διὰ μέσου αὐτῶν ἐπορεύετο.
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 4:21-30
The theme of prophet-outsider is continued in . The
use of outsiders in the tales of Elijah and Elisha did not
mean that God had rejected Israel, only that his concerns
were also with those who were not of Israel. The hope was
that Israel would be called back to faithfulness. Thus a
widow [ a type representing dependency upon God] and a
righteous nobleman are the outsider individuals in the Elijah/Elisha
cycle. In 7 heals the slave of the centurion and
remarks "not even in Israel have I found such faith," and
at Acts 10:11 there is the story of Peter and Cornelius.
The point is that God is free to act in new ways. Israel,
and her expectations, cannot bind him. The force however
is not to point to an ultimate rejection of Israel, the
outsiders are used to call Israel to be what she can be.
The hope is that Israel will be reunited with the church.
Remember that one of Luke's problems is the problem of
Jewish rejection of as the Messiah.
The rejection begins in verse 22 where we can feel
the mood change. The crowd moves from staring in wonder
at one of their own to anger at the presumption of one of
their own lecturing them and claiming to be a prophet.
heightens the drama making rejection the only possible
3. STRATEGY: 4:21-30
The force of the passage is that the concept of an
acceptable prophet is an oxymoron. The choice goes back
to Joshua 24, "choose this day whom you will serve." By
walking through the crowd demonstrated that he was not
powerless, his time was not yet. In so doing he also
demonstrates that the crucifixion is not a triumph over
him. It was his time and place.
This passage presents the preacher with the
opportunity to demonstrate that is not simply a
collection of isolated stories, but that had a plan.
Congregations are fascinated by chiasmus. It helps
explain the problems with chronology and geography
enabling the preacher to demonstrate that such details
were servants to the message wished to proclaim.
Closely related to the theme of rejection is the
theme of election. angered his audience by stating
metaphorically that election extended beyond the Jews.
The tradition carries forward a battle within Judaism
begun just after the exile.
The voices of Haggai, Zechariah, Nehemiah and Ezra call
for Israel to purify itself and wall itself off from the
world. Foreign wives are to be set aside, proselytism
stops, and the people look inward. The minority report
calling for Israel to continue to involve itself in the
world was filed away and ignored.
We know the minority report as the books of Ruth and
Jonah. Read back into holy history they demonstrate
that, in Ruth, David is dependent upon Moabites for his
very existence, and in Jonah, that even the historically
despised enemy, Assyria, was God's creation. Jesus'
sense of foreigners begin the elect renews this battle and
challenges those who hear it to look outside themselves.
Someone once said that the only trouble with the
concept of purgatory is that we try and run it from this
side. This holds true for election,too. From this side we do
best if we treat everyone as elect and not draw lines.
We can do this only if we are aware of the tenuous nature
of our own election and aware that our very existence
is summed up in the Rabbinical Parable of God's
morning prayer. As the parable goes, each
morning God prays "May my attributes of mercy outweigh my
attributes of justice."
4. REFERENCES: 4:21-30
Juel, Donald. LUKE-ACTS, THE PROMISE OF HISTORY.
Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1983.
Miesner, Donald R. "The Circumferential Speeches of
Luke-Acts: Patterns and Purpose," in SOCIETY OF BIBLICAL
LITERATURE 1978 SEMINAR PAPERS, Vol. II, ed. by Paul Achtemeier. Missoula, Montana: Scholars Press, 1978, pp. 223-238.
[This seldom-cited article is an excellent resource for understanding
the role of chiasmus in this and other texts in Luke-Acts .]
5. HYMN SUGGESTIONS: Epiphany Four, Year C
LOOK FROM YOUR SPHERE OF ENDLESS DAY ( HB 402)
HOPE OF THE WORLD, CHRIST OF GREAT COMPASSION (HB 493)
GOD OF GRACE AND GOD OF GLORY ( ELW 705, HB 415)
SPREAD O SPREAD, ALMIGHTY WORD (ELW 663, HB 530)
YOU ARE THE WAY, TO YOU ALONE (ELW 758, HB 457)
AND, IF NOT USED PREVIOUSLY THIS SEASON:
SONGS OF THANKFULNESS AND PRAISE (ELW 310, HB 90)
O LOVE, HOW DEEP, HOW BROAD, HOW HIGH (ELW 322, HB 448/9)
IF THE THEME OF "PHYSICIAN, HEAL THYSELF" IS FOLLOWED:
O CHRIST, THE HEALER, WE HAVE COME ( ELW 610, 360)
HEALER OF OUR EVERY ILL (ELW 612)
THERE IS A BALM IN GILEAD (ELW 614)
WE COME TO YOU FOR HEALING, LORD (ELW 617)
O GOD, WHOSE WILL IS LIFE AND GOOD ( HB 435)
O SON OF GOD, IN GALILEE ( HB 426)
Exegete - Peter R. Powell, who has a degree in Chemical Engineering (NCSU ’70), earned his MDiv at Virginia Theol. Seminary and has recently retired as CEO of the Interfaith Housing Alliance of Westport, CT ( http://www.ihawestport.com/ ) .
Presentation of Our Lord
February 2, 2010
Psalm 84 (1) or Psalm 24:7-10 (7)
Prayer of the Day
Almighty and ever-living God, your only-begotten Son was presented this day in the temple. May we be presented to you with clean and pure hearts by the same Jesus Christ, our great high priest, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Alleluia. My eyes have seen | your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence | of all peoples. Alleluia. (Luke 2:30-31)
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