Sunday of the Passion
March 28, 2010
Luke 19:28-40 - Procession with Palms
Psalm 31:9-16 (5)
[ Luke 22:14–23:56] or Luke 23:1-49
Prayer of the Day
Everlasting God, in your endless love for the human race you sent our Lord Jesus Christ to take on our nature and to suffer death on the cross. In your mercy enable us to share in his obedience to your will and in the glorious victory of his resurrection, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Sovereign God, you have established your rule in the human heart through the servanthood of Jesus Christ. By your Spirit, keep us in the joyful procession of those who with their tongues confess Jesus as Lord and with their lives praise him as Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
O God of mercy and might, in the mystery of the passion of your Son you offer your infinite life to the world. Gather us around the cross of Christ, and preserve us until the resurrection, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Christ humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death | on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above | ev'ry name. (Phil. 2:8-9)
Color: Scarlet / Purple
Monday in Holy Week
March 29, 2010
Isaiah 42:1-9 • Psalm 36:5-11 (7) • Hebrews 9:11-15 • John 12:1-11
Prayer of the Day
O God, your Son chose the path that led to pain before joy and to the cross before glory. Plant his cross in our hearts, so that in its power and love we may come at last to joy and glory, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
May I never boast of | anything
except the cross of our Lord | Jesus Christ. (Gal. 6:14)
Tuesday in Holy Week
March 30, 2010
Psalm 71:1-14 (6)
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Prayer of the Day
Lord Jesus, you have called us to follow you. Grant that our love may not grow cold in your service, and that we may not fail or deny you in the time of trial, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
May I never boast of | anything
except the cross of our Lord | Jesus Christ. (Gal. 6:14)
Wednesday in Holy Week
March 31, 2010
Psalm 70 (1)
Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, your Son our Savior suffered at human hands and endured the shame of the cross. Grant that we may walk in the way of his cross and find it the way of life and peace, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
May I never boast of | anything
except the cross of our Lord | Jesus Christ. (Gal. 6:14)
1a. CONTEXT: Luke 23:1-49
Luke's passion narrative has a perspective of its own,
and departs from the Synoptic viewpoint of Mark and
Matthew frequently enough to raise a question: what was
Luke up to? Frederick W. Danker in JESUS AND THE NEW AGE
says that Luke was trying to prove Jesus' innocence of
treason against Rome, for the sake of his apologetic
concern for Theophilus (1:3) and other Roman officials.
This task of the gospel is certainly open to conjecture,
but it finds strong supportive evidence in the Passion
story. Luke's message that Jesus was innocent of the
political charges against him, and his softening of
Pilate's guilt, work hand-in-hand with the Evangelist's
concern for the gospel to reach "to the end of the earth,"
(Acts 1:8)--and certainly to Rome.
The meaning of this text is peculiarly shaped by the
Sunday of the Passion, which tries to embrace all of Holy
Week. It's not easy. Lectionary shapers have struggled
with where to start and stop. LBW's long form provides
the fullest context--including a helpful preview (22:1,2),
initial glimpse of Satanic involvement (22:3), and Luke's
carefully drawn, painfully ironic Last Supper. BCP's long
form picks up with Jesus' agony in the garden, (uniquely
heightened in Luke by blood-like sweat and angelic
comfort). Both short forms begin in the middle, with the
trial before Pilate, after the Sanhedrin trial, and
obscure much of Jesus' active role in his sacrifice.
Nevertheless, given an additional gospel reading used with
the Procession with Palms (Luke 19:28-40) and John's
Passion narrative read for Good Friday worship, the short
forms still carry the story well enough, especially the
day's ironic focus on Jesus the King.
1b. TEXT: Luke 23: 1-49
Jesus Before Pilate
23:1 Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” 3 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” 4 Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” 5 But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”
Jesus Before Herod
6 When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7 And when he learned that he belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. 8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. 9 So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. 10 The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11 And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. 12 And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.
13 Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 15 Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. 16 I will therefore punish and release him.” 
Pilate Delivers Jesus to Be Crucified
18 But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— 19 a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. 20 Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, 21 but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” 22 A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” 23 But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.
26 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. 27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28 But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him,  “This is the King of the Jews.”
39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him,  saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
The Death of Jesus
44 It was now about the sixth hour,  and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour,  45 while the sun's light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. 47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49 And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.
 23:16 Here, or after verse 19, some manuscripts add verse 17: Now he was obliged to release one man to them at the festival
 23:34 Some manuscripts omit the sentence And Jesus . . . what they do
 23:38 Some manuscripts add in letters of Greek and Latin and Hebrew
 23:39 Or blasphemed him
 23:44 That is, noon
 23:44 That is, 3 p.m.
Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles
1Καὶ ἀναστὰν ἅπαν τὸ πλῆθος αὐτῶν ἤγαγον αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τὸν Πιλᾶτον. 2ἤρξαντο δὲ κατηγορεῖν αὐτοῦ λέγοντες, Τοῦτον εὕραμεν διαστρέφοντα τὸ ἔθνος ἡμῶν καὶ κωλύοντα φόρους Καίσαρι διδόναι καὶ λέγοντα ἑαυτὸν Χριστὸν βασιλέα εἶναι. 3ὁ δὲ Πιλᾶτος ἠρώτησεν αὐτὸν λέγων, Σὺ εἶ ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων; ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς αὐτῷ ἔφη, Σὺ λέγεις. 4ὁ δὲ Πιλᾶτος εἶπεν πρὸς τοὺς ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ τοὺς ὄχλους, Οὐδὲν εὑρίσκω αἴτιον ἐν τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ τούτῳ. 5οἱ δὲ ἐπίσχυον λέγοντες ὅτι Ἀνασείει τὸν λαὸν διδάσκων καθ∍ ὅλης τῆς Ἰουδαίας, καὶ ἀρξάμενος ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας ἕως ὧδε. 6Πιλᾶτος δὲ ἀκούσας ἐπηρώτησεν εἰ ὁ ἄνθρωπος Γαλιλαῖός ἐστιν: 7καὶ ἐπιγνοὺς ὅτι ἐκ τῆς ἐξουσίας Ἡρῴδου ἐστὶν ἀνέπεμψεν αὐτὸν πρὸς Ἡρῴδην, ὄντα καὶ αὐτὸν ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις ἐν ταύταις ταῖς ἡμέραις. 8ὁ δὲ Ἡρῴδης ἰδὼν τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἐχάρη λίαν, ἦν γὰρ ἐξ ἱκανῶν χρόνων θέλων ἰδεῖν αὐτὸν διὰ τὸ ἀκούειν περὶ αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἤλπιζέν τι σημεῖον ἰδεῖν ὑπ∍ αὐτοῦ γινόμενον. 9ἐπηρώτα δὲ αὐτὸν ἐν λόγοις ἱκανοῖς: αὐτὸς δὲ οὐδὲν ἀπεκρίνατο αὐτῷ. 10εἱστήκεισαν δὲ οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς εὐτόνως κατηγοροῦντες αὐτοῦ. 11ἐξουθενήσας δὲ αὐτὸν [καὶ] ὁ Ἡρῴδης σὺν τοῖς στρατεύμασιν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐμπαίξας περιβαλὼν ἐσθῆτα λαμπρὰν ἀνέπεμψεν αὐτὸν τῷ Πιλάτῳ. 12ἐγένοντο δὲ φίλοι ὅ τε Ἡρῴδης καὶ ὁ Πιλᾶτος ἐν αὐτῇ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ μετ∍ ἀλλήλων: προϋπῆρχον γὰρ ἐν ἔχθρᾳ ὄντες πρὸς αὐτούς. 13Πιλᾶτος δὲ συγκαλεσάμενος τοὺς ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ τοὺς ἄρχοντας καὶ τὸν λαὸν 14εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς, Προσηνέγκατέ μοι τὸν ἄνθρωπον τοῦτον ὡς ἀποστρέφοντα τὸν λαόν, καὶ ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἐνώπιον ὑμῶν ἀνακρίνας οὐθὲν εὗρον ἐν τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ τούτῳ αἴτιον ὧν κατηγορεῖτε κατ∍ αὐτοῦ, 15ἀλλ∍ οὐδὲ Ἡρῴδης: ἀνέπεμψεν γὰρ αὐτὸν πρὸς ἡμᾶς: καὶ ἰδοὺ οὐδὲν ἄξιον θανάτου ἐστὶν πεπραγμένον αὐτῷ. 16παιδεύσας οὖν αὐτὸν ἀπολύσω. 17ἀνέκραγον 18δὲ παμπληθεὶ λέγοντες, Αἶρε τοῦτον, ἀπόλυσον δὲ ἡμῖν τὸν Βαραββᾶν: 19ὅστις ἦν διὰ στάσιν τινὰ γενομένην ἐν τῇ πόλει καὶ φόνον βληθεὶς ἐν τῇ φυλακῇ. 20πάλιν δὲ ὁ Πιλᾶτος προσεφώνησεν αὐτοῖς, θέλων ἀπολῦσαι τὸν Ἰησοῦν: 21οἱ δὲ ἐπεφώνουν λέγοντες, Σταύρου, σταύρου αὐτόν. 22ὁ δὲ τρίτον εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς, Τί γὰρ κακὸν ἐποίησεν οὗτος; οὐδὲν αἴτιον θανάτου εὗρον ἐν αὐτῷ: παιδεύσας οὖν αὐτὸν ἀπολύσω. 23οἱ δὲ ἐπέκειντο φωναῖς μεγάλαις αἰτούμενοι αὐτὸν σταυρωθῆναι, καὶ κατίσχυον αἱ φωναὶ αὐτῶν. 24καὶ Πιλᾶτος ἐπέκρινεν γενέσθαι τὸ αἴτημα αὐτῶν: 25ἀπέλυσεν δὲ τὸν διὰ στάσιν καὶ φόνον βεβλημένον εἰς φυλακὴν ὃν ᾐτοῦντο, τὸν δὲ Ἰησοῦν παρέδωκεν τῷ θελήματι αὐτῶν. 26Καὶ ὡς ἀπήγαγον αὐτόν, ἐπιλαβόμενοι Σίμωνά τινα Κυρηναῖον ἐρχόμενον ἀπ∍ ἀγροῦ ἐπέθηκαν αὐτῷ τὸν σταυρὸν φέρειν ὄπισθεν τοῦ Ἰησοῦ. 27Ἠκολούθει δὲ αὐτῷ πολὺ πλῆθος τοῦ λαοῦ καὶ γυναικῶν αἳ ἐκόπτοντο καὶ ἐθρήνουν αὐτόν. 28στραφεὶς δὲ πρὸς αὐτὰς [ὁ] Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν, Θυγατέρες Ἰερουσαλήμ, μὴ κλαίετε ἐπ∍ ἐμέ: πλὴν ἐφ∍ ἑαυτὰς κλαίετε καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ὑμῶν, 29ὅτι ἰδοὺ ἔρχονται ἡμέραι ἐν αἷς ἐροῦσιν, Μακάριαι αἱ στεῖραι καὶ αἱ κοιλίαι αἳ οὐκ ἐγέννησαν καὶ μαστοὶ οἳ οὐκ ἔθρεψαν. 30τότε ἄρξονται λέγειν τοῖς ὄρεσιν, Πέσετε ἐφ∍ ἡμᾶς, καὶ τοῖς βουνοῖς, Καλύψατε ἡμᾶς: 31ὅτι εἰ ἐν τῷ ὑγρῷ ξύλῳ ταῦτα ποιοῦσιν, ἐν τῷ ξηρῷ τί γένηται; 32Ἤγοντο δὲ καὶ ἕτεροι κακοῦργοι δύο σὺν αὐτῷ ἀναιρεθῆναι. 33καὶ ὅτε ἦλθον ἐπὶ τὸν τόπον τὸν καλούμενον Κρανίον, ἐκεῖ ἐσταύρωσαν αὐτὸν καὶ τοὺς κακούργους, ὃν μὲν ἐκ δεξιῶν ὃν δὲ ἐξ ἀριστερῶν. 34[[ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἔλεγεν, Πάτερ, ἄφες αὐτοῖς, οὐ γὰρ οἴδασιν τί ποιοῦσιν.]] διαμεριζόμενοι δὲ τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ ἔβαλον κλήρους. 35καὶ εἱστήκει ὁ λαὸς θεωρῶν. ἐξεμυκτήριζον δὲ καὶ οἱ ἄρχοντες λέγοντες, Ἄλλους ἔσωσεν, σωσάτω ἑαυτόν, εἰ οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ Χριστὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ὁ ἐκλεκτός. 36ἐνέπαιξαν δὲ αὐτῷ καὶ οἱ στρατιῶται προσερχόμενοι, ὄξος προσφέροντες αὐτῷ 37καὶ λέγοντες, Εἰ σὺ εἶ ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων, σῶσον σεαυτόν. 38ἦν δὲ καὶ ἐπιγραφὴ ἐπ∍ αὐτῷ, Ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων οὗτος. 39Εἷς δὲ τῶν κρεμασθέντων κακούργων ἐβλασφήμει αὐτὸν λέγων, Οὐχὶ σὺ εἶ ὁ Χριστός; σῶσον σεαυτὸν καὶ ἡμᾶς. 40ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ ἕτερος ἐπιτιμῶν αὐτῷ ἔφη, Οὐδὲ φοβῇ σὺ τὸν θεόν, ὅτι ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ κρίματι εἶ; 41καὶ ἡμεῖς μὲν δικαίως, ἄξια γὰρ ὧν ἐπράξαμεν ἀπολαμβάνομεν: οὗτος δὲ οὐδὲν ἄτοπον ἔπραξεν. 42καὶ ἔλεγεν, Ἰησοῦ, μνήσθητί μου ὅταν ἔλθῃς εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν σου. 43καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Ἀμήν σοι λέγω, σήμερον μετ∍ ἐμοῦ ἔσῃ ἐν τῷ παραδείσῳ. 44Καὶ ἦν ἤδη ὡσεὶ ὥρα ἕκτη καὶ σκότος ἐγένετο ἐφ∍ ὅλην τὴν γῆν ἕως ὥρας ἐνάτης 45τοῦ ἡλίου ἐκλιπόντος, ἐσχίσθη δὲ τὸ καταπέτασμα τοῦ ναοῦ μέσον. 46καὶ φωνήσας φωνῇ μεγάλῃ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν, Πάτερ, εἰς χεῖράς σου παρατίθεμαι τὸ πνεῦμά μου: τοῦτο δὲ εἰπὼν ἐξέπνευσεν. 47Ἰδὼν δὲ ὁ ἑκατοντάρχης τὸ γενόμενον ἐδόξαζεν τὸν θεὸν λέγων, Ὄντως ὁ ἄνθρωπος οὗτος δίκαιος ἦν. 48καὶ πάντες οἱ συμπαραγενόμενοι ὄχλοι ἐπὶ τὴν θεωρίαν ταύτην, θεωρήσαντες τὰ γενόμενα, τύπτοντες τὰ στήθη ὑπέστρεφον. 49εἱστήκεισαν δὲ πάντες οἱ γνωστοὶ αὐτῷ ἀπὸ μακρόθεν, καὶ γυναῖκες αἱ συνακολουθοῦσαι αὐτῷ ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας, ὁρῶσαι ταῦτα.
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 23: 1-49
JESUS' INNOCENCE: Of the charges levelled against
Jesus (.2), only the first speaks for his accusers, the
chief priests and scribes (mostly Pharisaic lawyers).
Jesus was "perverting our nation"--literally making
crooked [diastrephonta] Israel's religious path, insofar
as it was directed by Israel's temple and torah
authorities. The remaining two charges accuse Jesus of
subversion: forbidding payment of taxes to Caesar and
claiming kingship. Jesus in fact did neither (20:21-25),
but the ironies surrounding kingship claims (19:38--note
how Luke omits "son of David" from the acclamations) focus
the issue for this day: what kind of king was/is Jesus?
Only Luke gives us a second trial with Herod (6-12),
whose jurisdiction included Galilee, "the hot-bed of
revolutionary uprisings" (Danker, 232). Herod's
curiosity about Jesus turned to contempt when Jesus failed
to answer the charges with a miracle or a word, but the
text's interpretation of this trial proclaims Jesus'
innocence (.15). Thus two witnesses--to fulfill the
requirements of Jewish law and cover all possible Roman
jurisdictions--acquit Jesus of treason.
Pilate keeps proclaiming Jesus' innocence (twice with
the intensive [idou], 14,15; twice without, 4, 22); one of
the crucified criminals repeats it (.41); and the
centurion affirms it, (.47): "Certainly this man was
innocent" [dikaios], RSV; a departure from synoptic
parallels "son of God"). Luke makes his point.
The People's Guilt--on a Cosmic Scale: If Jesus is
innocent in this scene, so is Pilate. In the end, Pilate
didn't "deliver Jesus to be crucified" (MT 27:26, MK
15:15), but "delivered up [Jesus] to their will" (.25) --
the will of the people. "And as they led him away..."
(.26): the ambiguous "they" seems to refer to the people.
In parallels "they" are clearly the soldiers. Of course
the crucifixion itself was Roman capital punishment. Had
Israel carried out the sentence, Jesus would have been
stoned as Stephen was (Acts 7:58). Yet for Luke, the
guilt is surprisingly carried by the people--[ho laos].
Surprising because in every other instance in the gospel
the people [ho laos] are sympathetic. They are opposed to
"the elders" who seek to do Jesus in (20: 19, 26; 22:2);
they are receptive to John the Baptist and Jesus (7:29,
21:38); they even mourn and follow Jesus on his way to
death (23:27); and at the crucifixion they watch benignly
(23:35), as opposed to the rulers' scoffing.
But before Pilate they join the chief priests and rulers
(.13) who "all cry out [anekragon] together" against
Jesus (.18). This verb is used of demoniacs in exorcisms
(4:33, 8:28) and of the disciples when they thought Jesus
was a ghost (MK 6:49). Furthermore, the people demand
Barabbas' freedom spontaneously, inexplicably, without
being incited by the chief priests (MT 27:20; MK 15:11),
and without explanation of the tradition of releasing a
prisoner for Passover. (Verse 17 is omitted in most
reliable manuscripts and consigned to the footnotes in
RSV). Indeed, Luke's literary style compresses the
response of the people into an insistent, irrational,
demonic demand for Jesus' death.
More is going on than mob psychology. We have a
cosmic showdown here, the uniquely Lukan working out of
Satan's plot (22:3) and Jesus' innocence (22:22). The
return of chaos to creation (23:28-31) is not divine
judgment as much as apocalyptic consequences of Satan's
apparent victory. Verse 31 might mean something like "if
Satan's cronies dare to challenge God when God is with us
(when the time is not ripe), what will happen when
Emmanuel is gone (when the wood is dry)?" We see the
beginnings of divine judgment (or perhaps grief) in verses
44-45, but await its fullness in the resurrection, when we
learn (along with Jesus?) that Emmanuel will not be
banished, after all.
So who are the guilty ones for Luke? Not the Jews as
[ho laos], but a much broader group, as we see in Acts
4:27-28. Here everyone is involved in the plan over which
God had ultimate authority. From this perspective no one
could claim innocence, except for Jesus.
KINGLY RULE: So what kind of king was Jesus? Luke
pushes the question insistently in the scenes of mockery
during the crucifixion, (35-39). Rulers, soldiers, and
criminal tempt Jesus to save himself, recalling Satan's
tempting (4:9). Each temptation is paired with a title,
giving us an inclusio of titles in this scene
But Jesus is faithful to his teaching on servanthood--and
forgiveness. Jesus' "Father, forgive them" (.34) is
omitted in several manuscripts. It does interrupt the
flow of the narrative, but echoes Stephen's call in Acts
7:60. Perhaps as curious is Luke's omission of Jesus'
cry of forsakenness (MT 27:46; MK 15:34). However, the
effect of what we do have of Jesus' last words is rather
kingly--as if the agony were already over. The Servant is
already reigning, when he promises the second criminal
much more than requested, in a kingdom realized
"today"(.43). His dying cry trusts God ("Into thy hand I
commit my spirit; thou hast redeemed me, O LORD, faithful
God, Ps. 31:5). Finally, Joseph of Arimathea gives
witness to Christ, the King. Like Jesus, he was [dikaios] .
He was "looking for the kingdom of God." Luke has
him finding it-- in the body of Jesus.
3. STRATEGY: Luke 23: 1-49
By all means preach on the Sunday of the Passion. Some
liturgical guides suggest reading the long form of the
story and doing without a sermon, but that cheats the
people. The passion tells itself on Good Friday. But
Sunday of the Passion needs interpretation because it is
so full--so full of the ironies of Christ's kingship and
our own temptations to define it our way. Worship begins
with a theology of glory. Live it up! The more and
bigger palms, the better. With the lessons, the mood
becomes ominous. DT 32: 36-39 tells of idols and
judgment. Philippians 2: 5-11 sings the servant's song.
And before long the shouts of "Hosanna!" become those of
"Crucify!" The sermon needs to account for the change and
affirm the suffering way as God's way.
What kind of king was Jesus? How did God use God's
power? How was Jesus' kingship authenticated by those in
power? The questions are still with us and are challenged
not only by political and cultural idols, but also by
competing theologies like the "health and wealth gospel"
which find confused listeners, if not adherents, in many
of our pews.
Another approach takes off from a comment by Lee
Griffen, ELCA psychiatrist, as quoted by ELCA pastor Dan
Erlander: "We practice a radical gospel of liberation
against a pastel picture of evil." Evil is hardly pastel
in the passion, particularly with Luke's indictment of all
the people in their act of treason against God. How do
our theologies of glory continue to crucify the body of
Christ? Are we guilty, too, as we sing in "Ah, Holy
Jesus" (LBW 123)? Thomas Merton gets at the same problem
in terms of conversion: "It is relatively easy to convert
the sinner, but the good are often completely
unconvertable simply because they do not see the need for
conversion." (CONJECTURES OF A GUILTY BYSTANDER, p. 169)
If there is no evil which good people are caught in, there
is no need for liberation, and no need for Jesus to die.
Preaching this without haranguing requires considerable
art, but could be a way to make the Sunday of the Passion
4. REFERENCES: Luke 23: 1-49
Burkill, T.A. "Sanhedrin," THE INTERPRETER'S DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE, vol. IV. Nashville: Abingdon, 1962. pp. 215-218.
Danker, Frederick W. JESUS AND THE NEW AGE: A Commentary on the
Third Gospel. St. Louis: Clayton, 1972.
Merton, Thomas. CONJECTURES OF A GUILTY BYSTANDER. New York: Image, l968, p. 169.
Exegete: Jean Larson Hurd
Pastor Larson Hurd is ELCA Campus Pastor at the University of Montana, Missoula, MT. Among her many publications is “Women and Vocation: Co-Creating with God, in Word & World, v. XV n. 95, 1995.
5. MUSIC SUGGESTIONS: Luke 23: 1-49
ALL GLORY, LAUD AND HONOR (HB 154/5,ELW 344 ),
RIDE ON! RIDE ON IN MAJESTY (HB 156, ELW 346),
MY SONG IS LOVE UNKNOWN (HB 458,ELW 343),
AH, HOLY JESUS (HB 158, LBW 123, ELW 349),
THE FLAMING BANNERS OF OUR KING (HB 161),
WHEN I SURVEY THE WONDROUS CROSS ( HB 474,LBW 482, ELW 803),
O SACRED HEAD, NOW WOUNDED (HB 168/9,116/7, ELW 351/2).
2010 has turned out to be a year of unprecedented social change, due in no small part to the dawning awareness among more and more Americans that Pres. Barack Obama’s promise of “Yes, we can!” was more than a mere catch-phrase. The likely approval of Health Care reform by Congress is only one in a long list of current sociopolitical and religious upsurges that range from the “Tea Party” movement(s) all the way over to the Immigration movement currently championed by Lutheran Social Service ministries. Thus Immigration looms as the next major hurdle for the President and Congress to confront, should they not have their energies depleted by the back-pedaling of “Repeal” and other obstructionist cadres purporting to represent “authentic” Americanism.
In wider theological circles, it is exciting to see how the Theology and Science debate has entered the mainstream, with none other than Francis S. Collins, MD PhD (former head of the Human Genome Project) recently publishing BELIEF: Readings on the Reason for Faith (NY: HarperOne, 2010). This is a stunning yet brief compendium of current debates and dialogues among agnostics, atheists, and believers. A measure of the editor’s insight into the present state of the discussion is that he begins with an introduction by N.T. Wright that frames the postmodern dilemma for both believers and non-believers in Divine Revelation. Thirty- two brief essays range from Plato to Pascal, Os Guiness to Keith Ward, C.S. Lewis to Mother Theresa, and John Stott to John Polkinghorne, with an astonishing array of voices of faith, science and philosophy. This collection of essays by intellectual worthies will be both timely and useful for decades to come!
Much of the same ground covered by Collins is taken up by three other recent authors: The Religion & Science Debate: Why Does It Continue?, ed. By Harold W. Attridge (Yale University Press, 2009). This is a superb historico-theological overview of the Science and Religion debate. Einstein’s God: Conversations about Science and the Human Spirit is Krista Tippett’s foray into the same subject, based on conversations from her popular radio show, speaking of faith today ( www.speakingoffaith.org ). While not as theologically weighty as the Collins book, Einstein’s God is a lively, easy read and explores many aspects of faith for a faithless world. Finally, the historians among us will appreciate Ronald Numbers’ 2009 book Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion (Cambridge,MA: Harvard, 2010 pb.). Numbers is the consummate historian of science and now has emerged alongside Owen Gingerich as the dean among historians of Religion and Science in America. This brief but thoroughly engrossing work, offers a methodical de-bunking of more than two dozen common mis- understandings of the relationship between Science and Religion.
Another major upheaval in the Church today has to do with the ongoing crisis over sexual abuse among ordained clergy. While no ecclesiastical body has been immune to this crisis, it has been most dramatic this year in the outbreak of new allegations of abuse and its Corollary, cover-up by hierarchies among the Roman Catholic churches in Ireland, Italy, and especially Germany (during the era when the Holy Father was still Cardinal Ratzinger in Germany). This comes at a time when almost all major American denominations have experienced vigorous, often fractious debates on sexuality, the ordination of gays and lesbians, and the emergence of civil unions and weddings for gay and lesbian Christians. These struggles have so much import for Christianity as a whole, above and extend far beyond concerns about denominational survival. In fact, they point toward foundational issues of moral compass, theological integrity, and our common ground in proclaiming Christ to the world. With this in mind, the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology has issued a call to its June Conference:
The Morally Divided Body: Ethical Disagreement and the Disunity of the Church
An Ecumenical Conference for Clergy and Laity
Sponsored by the
Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology
Michael Root, Executive Director
James J. Buckley, Associate Director
Carl Braaten & Robert Jenson, Founders
To be held at
Loyola University, Baltimore, Maryland
Monday evening, June 14, 2010
Wednesday noon, June 16, 2010
WHILE DOCTRINAL ISSUES have often in the past been the most ecumenically neuralgic topics, increasingly today ethical issues -- abortion and homosexuality most prominently -- have become a focus of difference between the churches and of potentially splintering debate within churches. These issues are more laden with emotion than many traditional doctrinal disputes, but ecumenical discussions have yet to address them in detail. We have little sense of just when and how ethical disputes rightly impact communion within and among the churches. When can we live together with difference over such matters and when does unity in Christ require common teaching? These questions will be addressed from a variety of perspectives.
ROBERT JENSON, Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton, NJ
FREDERICK BAUERSCHMIDT, Loyola University in Maryland
JAMES J. BUCKLEY, Loyola University in Maryland
JOSEPH SMALL, Presbyterian Church (USA), Louisville, KY
BETH BARTON SCHWEIGER, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
SUSAN WOOD, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
DAVID YEAGO, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Columbia, SC
ANDREW ARCHIE, Church of SS. Michael & George, St. Louis, MO.
For More information, paste the following url into your web browser:
This event beckons as a rare occasion for Catholic and Evangelical Christian, conservative and protestant, to rub shoulders and share challenging ideas for a few days of conversation in one of America’s great old seaboard cities.
And while you’re there, be sure to check just a few of these local highlights: (1)The US Headquarters of the Lutheran World Federation, a short walk from Baltimore’s “Visionary Art Museum”; (2) Camden Yards, world-famous home of the Baltimore Orioles, who will be in town June 11-13 to play the NY Mets and away during the Conference; (3) Daedalus books, arguably one of the best new and remaindered book stores in the U.S., located in charming Belvidere Square, a few minutes north of Loyola University; (4) the spectacular BMA (Baltimore Museum of Art) in Charles Village, on the edge of Johns Hopkins University has a rich collection of masterpieces by Frans Hals, Rembrandt van Rijn, Van Dyck , and Jean Baptiste Siméon Chardin, as well as a large cross-cultural collection; and (5) Finally, a visit to “Charm City” is incomplete without a stop at a cozy café like Fells Point’s BLUE MOON (1621 Aliceanna Street) or perhaps Miss Shirley’s (S.R.O.) which is just a mile or two from Loyola at 513 West Cold Spring Lane [ 410-889-5272].