John the Baptist
June 24, 2010
Psalm 141 (8)
Luke 1:57-67 (68-80)
Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, by your gracious providence your servant John the Baptist was born to Elizabeth and Zechariah. Grant to your people the wisdom to see your purpose and the openness to hear your will, that the light of Christ may increase in us, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Alleluia. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righ- | teousness' sake,
for theirs is the king- | dom of heaven. Alleluia. (Matt. 5:10)
Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
June 27, 2010 (Lectionary 13)
1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21
Psalm 16 (8)
Galatians 5:1, 13-25
2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14
Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20 (15)
Galatians 5:1, 13-25
Prayer of the Day
Sovereign God, ruler of all hearts, you call us to obey you, and you favor us with true freedom. Keep us faithful to the ways of your Son, that, leaving behind all that hinders us, we may steadfastly follow your paths, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
Alleluia. Lord, to whom | shall we go?
You have the words of e- | ternal life. Alleluia. (John 6:68)
1a. CONTEXT: Luke 9:51-62
Some scholars see Like 9:51 as the fulcrum of Luke's Gospel. Jesus begins his journey toward Jerusalem, a journey which will end upon the Cross. In Luke, the motif of Jesus' resolute journey compares closely in both literary and theological senses with Moses' ascent of the mountain and travails with the people of Israel. Jesus' movement toward Calvary parallels Moses' frustration in attempting to lead Israel. Luke 9:51 - 18:14 corresponds in this sense to Deuteronomy 1-26. For Luke, Jesus' life and teachings intend to achieve a faithful Israel, rather than a new Israel. Nevertheless, Luke is no mere restorationist. For Luke, Jesus is the "Son of Man" (9:58), a Christological attribution found also in Matthew and Mark, e.g., Matthew 8:20, Mark 2:10. Thus, Jesus may fulfill ancient Israelite hopes, even in a manner which approximates Moses. But Jesus is building on the foundation of Israel in a new and universal way. "Leave the dead to bury the dead" reflects the newness and radicality of the discipleship Jesus demands. Another illustration of the same dynamic is "no one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God." While the image suggests Lot's wife, it is transposed into a new ethic. This shift is highlighted by the selection of Galatians 5 to accompany this text. Galatians 5 contrasts flesh and spirit and presents the fruits of the spirit. The Christian life is described as freedom for servanthood.
1a. TEXT: Luke 9:51-62
Lk. 9:51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.
Lk. 9:52 And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him;
Lk. 9:53 but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem.
Lk. 9:54 When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, "Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?"
Lk. 9:55 But he turned and rebuked them.
Lk. 9:56 Then they went on to another village.
Lk. 9:57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go."
Lk. 9:58 And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head."
Lk. 9:59 To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."
Lk. 9:60 But Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God."
Lk. 9:61 Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home."
Lk. 9:62 Jesus said to him, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."
51Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ συμπληροῦσθαι τὰς ἡμέρας τῆς ἀναλήμψεως αὐτοῦ καὶ αὐτὸς τὸ πρόσωπον ἐστήρισεν τοῦ πορεύεσθαι εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ,
52καὶ ἀπέστειλεν ἀγγέλους πρὸ προσώπου αὐτοῦ. καὶ πορευθέντες εἰσῆλθον εἰς κώμην Σαμαριτῶν, ὡς ἑτοιμάσαι αὐτῷ:
53καὶ οὐκ ἐδέξαντο αὐτόν, ὅτι τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ ἦν πορευόμενον εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ.
54ἰδόντες δὲ οἱ μαθηταὶ Ἰάκωβος καὶ Ἰωάννης εἶπαν, Κύριε, θέλεις εἴπωμεν πῦρ καταβῆναι ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ ἀναλῶσαι αὐτούς; 55στραφεὶς δὲ ἐπετίμησεν αὐτοῖς.
56καὶ ἐπορεύθησαν εἰς ἑτέραν κώμην.
57Καὶ πορευομένων αὐτῶν ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ εἶπέν τις πρὸς αὐτόν, Ἀκολουθήσω σοι ὅπου ἐὰν ἀπέρχῃ.
58καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Αἱ ἀλώπεκες φωλεοὺς ἔχουσιν καὶ τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ κατασκηνώσεις, ὁ δὲ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οὐκ ἔχει ποῦ τὴν κεφαλὴν κλίνῃ.
59Εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς ἕτερον, Ἀκολούθει μοι. ὁ δὲ εἶπεν, [Κύριε,] ἐπίτρεψόν μοι ἀπελθόντι πρῶτον θάψαι τὸν πατέρα μου.
60εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῷ, Ἄφες τοὺς νεκροὺς θάψαι τοὺς ἑαυτῶν νεκρούς, σὺ δὲ ἀπελθὼν διάγγελλε τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ.
61Εἶπεν δὲ καὶ ἕτερος, Ἀκολουθήσω σοι, κύριε: πρῶτον δὲ ἐπίτρεψόν μοι ἀποτάξασθαι τοῖς εἰς τὸν οἶκόν μου.
62εἶπεν δὲ [πρὸς αὐτὸν] ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Οὐδεὶς ἐπιβαλὼν τὴν χεῖρα ἐπ∍ ἄροτρον καὶ βλέπων εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω εὔθετός ἐστιν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ.
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 9: 51-62
"He set his face to go to Jerusalem," in verse 51, is a significant form of expression. "Set his face" is found in Jeremiah 21:10 and, more frequently, in Ezekiel where it is often accompanied by references to a "son of man" and to the commissioning of a prophet. Cf. Ezekiel 27:7, also 6:2, 13:17, 15:7, 21:2. "Set his face," more common in the LXX, refers to a prophet's commission to deliver a message of judgment. Luke 9:51 also seems to combine the themes of commission and judgment.
"Son of man," in 9:58, has been noted in the preceding section. The juxtaposition with "foxes and jackals" is striking. Foxes and jackals hardly were honored members of the animal kingdom; rather, they were viewed as scavengers and vagabonds. The comparison elicits several themes. First, that God provides places even for the meanest members of the creation. Next, the comparison underscores the humility associated with Jesus' role. Even the "Son of man," because of his discipleship, must experience degradation and suffering. Those who follow the life of faith must expect hardships, perhaps even the migratory character of Jesus' ministry, literally or metaphorically. Faith is a lonely, wandering pursuit.
"Leave the dead to bury the dead" is one of the NT's more shocking commands. Aligned with "no one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God," the meaning focuses. It compares with the fact that Jesus had "set his face to go to Jerusalem." In other words, discipleship requires the firmest kind of resolution. It asks a complete break with one's past, not lingering regret nor wistful remembrance. The references also reveal the depth of Jesus' understanding of his own commitment and fate. They serve to warn his followers of the total commitment required of them. Theologically, the references also convey the extent of Jesus' break with Judaism. It is ironic that Jesus "sets his face" to go to Jerusalem, the focal point of Judaism, as the means of breaking with Jewish precedent. Similarly, James and John suggesting fire be poured upon a village recalls the experience of Sodom. Jesus' rebuke represents the abandonment of precedent.
3. STRATEGY: Luke 9: 51-62
The passage abounds in fruitful themes for the preacher or teacher. The general topic would be discipleship, following the emphasis of Luke 9. Another look at D. Bonhoeffer's THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP might be useful. In Luke the focus is upon discipleship as dramatic, decisive break with one's past, setting one's face resolutely toward a new, better destination. In general, that destination would be an enduring form of life. The passage could have great power for persons struggling with chemical dependency or with destructive domestic situations. They would recognize the worth of the goal and the cost of reaching it. They would understand leaving "the dead to bury the dead." The passage also suggests linking faith to moments of life transition, or to personal ethical dilemmas in business or professional life. The road of faith can be lonely, painful, uncharted territory.
Exegete: Rev. William L. Sachs, PhD, is the author of—inter alia—several works in Patristics and contemporary theology, and also the Director of the Center for Interfaith Recon- ciliation, housed at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia. For more information on the Center, go to:
Peter and Paul, Apostles
June 29, 2010
Acts 12:1-11 or Ezekiel 34:11-16
Psalm 87:1-3, 5-7 (3)
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18 or 1 Corinthians 3:16-23
John 21:15-19 or Mark 8:27-35
Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, we praise you that your blessed apostles Peter and Paul glorified you by their martyrdoms. Grant that your church throughout the world may always be instructed by their teaching and example, be knit together in unity by your Spirit, and ever stand firm upon the one foundation who is Jesus Christ our Lord, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Alleluia. This Jesus | God raised up,
and of that all of | us are witnesses. Alleluia. (Acts 2:32)
July 3, 2010
Psalm 136:1-4, 23-26 (1)
Prayer of the Day
Ever-living God, you strengthened your apostle Thomas with firm and certain faith in the resurrection of your Son. Grant that we too may confess our faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Alleluia. You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea | and Samaria,
and to the ends | of the earth. Alleluia. (Acts 1:8)