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Friday, July 16, 2010


Lexegete™ | Year C | St. Luke

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
July 25, 2010 (Lectionary 17)

Complementary Series

Genesis 18:20-32
Psalm 138 (8)
Colossians 2:6-15 [16-19]
Luke 11:1-13

Semicontinuous Series

Hosea 1:2-10
Psalm 85 (13)
Colossians 2:6-15 [16-19]
Luke 11:1-13

Prayer of the Day

Almighty and ever-living God, you are always more ready to hear than we are to pray, and you gladly give more than we either desire or deserve. Pour upon us your abundant mercy. Forgive us those things that weigh on our conscience, and give us those good things that come only through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia. Ask, and it will be given to you; search and | you will find;
knock, and the door will be o- | pened to you. Alleluia. (Luke 11:9)


1a. CONTEXT: Luke 11:1-13

In a sense, Luke begins and ends his story of Jesus in

prayer. The good news of John the Baptist's expected

birth comes when Zechariah is on liturgical duty, leading

the people in prayer at the Temple. In response to the

resurrection of Jesus, immediately after the Ascension,

Jesus' folowers were "continually in the temple praising

God" (24:52f.). There they waited until called to go out

from Jerusalem. Corporate prayer is the framework for the

whole story of Jesus according to St. Luke. We see all

other events of prayer in this gospel within this

framework for Israel's piety.

Luke makes more mention of prayer and Jesus at prayer

than any other gospel. It is a regular part of Jesus' life

and especially important in critical moments: at baptism

(3:21); all night before calling the twelve disciples

(6:12); before he announced his suffering and death

(9:18); in an open "conversation" with God rejoicing in

the Holy Spirit (10:21); and before the present request to

teach prayer (11:1).

Jesus also prays during the passion episodes at the Last

Supper, on the Mount of Olives, and on the cross. The

resurrected Lord appears at Emmaus after praying over

and breaking the bread.

Prayer is something that can be both corporate and

individual in Luke's gospel. Jesus withdraws to pray

frequently and sometimes goes into mountain setting to be

alone (6:12). John's teaching prayer to his disciples

prompts the request put to Jesus in 11:1, which is the

occasion for this episode.

It is interesting to note how Jesus taught about prayer

in a parable in chapter 18. He taught, in effect, "that

they ought always to pray and not lose heart" (18:1) as he

told a story about a persistent widow and a judge.

More importantly, in chapter 10, Jesus calls for prayer

during the mission of the seventy, in order that there be

enough laborers for the harvest. Then in the present

reading, Jesus speaks about prayer and persistence, and

how God gives the holy spirit to those who ask.

Prayer becomes something that followers do. Notice how

prayer plays a role in the early chapters of Acts.

Prayer continues to frame decisions and turning points in

the early Christian community (1:24; 6:6; 13:3). Prayer

is not jsut the mode of living for crisis times, but is

the setting for the holy spirit to work its will through

the call of the community at the temple and the

individuals to lead in the mission.

1b. TEXT: Luke 11:1-13


The Lord's Prayer

11:1 Now Jesus [1] was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread, [2]
4 and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”
5 And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence [3] he will rise and give him whatever he needs. 9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for [4] a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

[1] 11:1 Greek he
[2] 11:3 Or our bread for tomorrow
[3] 11:8 Or persistence
[4] 11:11 Some manuscripts insert bread, will give him a stone; or if he asks for

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles


1Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτὸν ἐν τόπῳ τινὶ προσευχόμενον, ὡς ἐπαύσατο, εἶπέν τις τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ πρὸς αὐτόν, Κύριε, δίδαξον ἡμᾶς προσεύχεσθαι, καθὼς καὶ Ἰωάννης ἐδίδαξεν τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ. 2εἶπεν δὲ αὐτοῖς, Οταν προσεύχησθε, λέγετε, Πάτερ, ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου: ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου: 3τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δίδου ἡμῖν τὸ καθ' ἡμέραν: 4καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν, καὶ γὰρ αὐτοὶ ἀφίομεν παντὶ ὀφείλοντι ἡμῖν: καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν. 5Καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς, Τίς ἐξ ὑμῶν ἕξει φίλον καὶ πορεύσεται πρὸς αὐτὸν μεσονυκτίου καὶ εἴπῃ αὐτῷ, Φίλε, χρῆσόν μοι τρεῖς ἄρτους, 6ἐπειδὴ φίλος μου παρεγένετο ἐξ ὁδοῦ πρός με καὶ οὐκ ἔχω ὃ παραθήσω αὐτῷ: 7κἀκεῖνος ἔσωθεν ἀποκριθεὶς εἴπῃ, Μή μοι κόπους πάρεχε: ἤδη ἡ θύρα κέκλεισται, καὶ τὰ παιδία μου μετ' ἐμοῦ εἰς τὴν κοίτην εἰσίν: οὐ δύναμαι ἀναστὰς δοῦναί σοι. 8λέγω ὑμῖν, εἰ καὶ οὐ δώσει αὐτῷ ἀναστὰς διὰ τὸ εἶναι φίλον αὐτοῦ, διά γε τὴν ἀναίδειαν αὐτοῦ ἐγερθεὶς δώσει αὐτῷ ὅσων χρῄζει. 9κἀγὼ ὑμῖν λέγω, αἰτεῖτε, καὶ δοθήσεται ὑμῖν: ζητεῖτε, καὶ εὑρήσετε: κρούετε, καὶ ἀνοιγήσεται ὑμῖν. 10πᾶς γὰρ ὁ αἰτῶν λαμβάνει, καὶ ὁ ζητῶν εὑρίσκει, καὶ τῷ κρούοντι ἀνοιγ[ής]εται. 11τίνα δὲ ἐξ ὑμῶν τὸν πατέρα αἰτήσει ὁ υἱὸς ἰχθύν, καὶ ἀντὶ ἰχθύος ὄφιν αὐτῷ ἐπιδώσει; 12ἢ καὶ αἰτήσει ᾠόν, ἐπιδώσει αὐτῷ σκορπίον; 13εἰ οὖν ὑμεῖς πονηροὶ ὑπάρχοντες οἴδατε δόματα ἀγαθὰ διδόναι τοῖς τέκνοις ὑμῶν, πόσῳ μᾶλλον ὁ πατὴρ [ὁ] ἐξ οὐρανοῦ δώσει πνεῦμα ἅγιον τοῖς αἰτοῦσιν αὐτόν.

2. ANALYSIS: Luke 11:1-13

Jesus teaches prayer by example in this gospel story.

When his disciples ask him to "teach us to pray," perhaps

they were asking for a more formal prayer to identify

them among the religious communities (11:1).

Here it is that Jesus resists giving a [technical] “form”

for prayer, and instead teaches by example: "when

you pray, say [something like this]...."

Note the elements of this prayer: honoring God, the

beckoning of God's goal (kingdom) in human history, for

one's daily bread, for forgiveness, and to be kept from

temptation. The other two places where a version of this

prayer appear are Matthew 6:9-13 (a seven petition version

more closely resembling a Jewish prayer) and the Didache


Jesus prays for forgiveness fo "sins" (hamartias) as we

humans forgive one another inter-human debt (opheilen).

The difference makes human forgiveness an analogy of

God's forgiveness, which is much greater. Luther

Often distinguishes between how human beings

regard each other "coram humanibus"

and our standing before God, "coram deo."

Luther believed that a Christian could please his or her

fellow human beings, but in no way could earn

righteousness before God. Might the idea of forgiving

those indebted to us be part of St. Luke's concern about

human possessions (cf., Charles Talbert, Reading Luke, 129f.).

This prayer is corporate. Where Jesus refers to

humanity in the prayer,

it is in the plural: "give us" bread, "forgive us" sins,

as "we forgive," and "deliver us" (11:3f.).

His examples following the

prayer become models of communal life. He portrays going

to a friend at midnight (11:5f.) and a father in relation

to his son (11:11f.). Jesus in teaching prayer in this

context, even if offered personally or individually, is in

relation to the whole human family.

"Give us each day our daily bread" seems simple

enough, although the qualifying term "daily" (epiousion)

is problematical. But the phrase clearly continues Luke's

view of accumulating possessions, and implies rather

strongly the sense that we should pray for enough bread

[and things] for the day 'and no more.'

Verses 5-8 are unique to Luke's gospel. This section goes

further to explain how we might understand the following

verses dealing with asking and receiving, seeking and

finding, knocking and finding opening doors. Luke's Jesus

is describing what happens in prayer. God cannot help but

respond to human needs and prayers. God cannot avoid

hearing a prayer any more than a neighbor

can avoid hearing an obnoxious “friend”

at the door in the middle of the night.

"Fish and serpent" and "egg and scorpion" serve as

comparisons for what God gives in response to prayer.

Some Galileans report the presence of an unclean

"eel-like" fish in the Galilean lake which could evoke the

image in Jesus' teaching. When a scorpion has gathered

its legs and arms around it, one could call it

"egg-shaped." Jesus says that not even a bad parent has

the cruelty to give children bad things. Hence, God's

response to prayer is always the right thing,

a good thing.

Most importantly, disicples are to pray because God

gives the Holy Spirit in prayer. Jesus derives energy

and clarity in critical times from prayer. Why pray? One

prays for the power of the Holy Spirit. That is what God

gives those who pray--all the more to those who ask.

Luke's predisposition to give the Holy Spirit explicit

presence is evident in the passages about prayer.

3. STRATEGY: Luke 11:1-13

This is no time to preach the Johannine theme of

prayer as ascension, prayer as communion with God, since

we are preaching on Jesus teaching prayer in Luke's

thought-world. We should also avoid dealing with

Matthean themes of prayer in relation to pharisaic

hypocrisy and the First Gospel's more focussed Jewish


Luke's Jesus is responding to the request to teach

prayer. One option for preaching on this day is to

answer the question: "for what and why do we pray?"

This is an opportunity to teach prayer to the community of

God's people. We should not assume that everyone would

have a reflective, thoughtful answer to such a question.

What is prayer? What is prayer in the modern,

post-enlightenment age?

In Genesis (Old Testament reading Gen. 18:20-32),

Abraham and God have a marvelous, ancient and stylized

dialogue which takes the form of an arm wrestling match.

Some prayer is like this. Think of Tevye's conversations

with God in "Fiddler on the Roof" in which his world is

changing, and not particularly for the better. At the

same time his conversations with his eyes heavenward

portray a kind of intimacy and trust and love which his

relationship with God assumed (and taught).

It is usually appropriate to deal with the translations

for the Lord's Prayer. Most pastors have experienced

resistance to the newer translations in the liturgy.

Could it be that Jesus was NOT providing a formal prayer

to be used for all time, but was--as elsewhere--teaching

by example?

This prayer is thoroughly, emphatically, and simply

corporate in nature. The fact that prayer may be

personal, but not private, is an appropriate preaching of

Luke's gospel which disdains the misuse of possessions in

generall, and the disregard for sharing with those in need

in particular.

The appointed psalm (138) reinforces God's concern for

the poor and for one's calling in discipleship: "The Lord

will make good his purpose for me" (138:9). A point not

to be lost on our congregations would be that the psalm

book is the Bible's prayer book, and would have been a

primary resources for Jesus, and it should continue to be

one for Christians and Jews today.

In preaching about the daily bread theme, Luther

followed Jesus' concern about daily bread 'and no more' in

the Small Catechism, saying,"to be sure, God provides

daily bread, even to the wicked, without our prayer, but

we pray in this petition that God may make us aware of his

gifts and enable us to receive our daily bread with


4. REFERENCES: Luke 11:1-13

Fitzmyer, Joseph. The Gospel According to Luke. Anchor

Bible. New York: Doubleday, 1985.

Talbert, Charles. Reading Luke. New York: Crossroad,


5. MUSIC SUGGESTIONS: Luke 11:1-13

The Eucharistic hymn "Lord, who the night you were

betrayed," (LBW 206) refers to Jesus in

prayer and to bread, etc.

"Lord, keep us steadfast in your word" (ELW 517) is a

prayer to the Lord for keeping us, while LBW 428 was once

appointed for the day and is another singable tune by

Orlando Gibbons. Hymns related to the Holy Spirit

would be excellent support for a sermon dealing with that

theme (The Hymnal 1982: 501, 509; ELW 786), and there

are traditional standby hymns for prayer such as ELW 745

and--if you can stand it—ELW 742.

A liturgical variation for this day would be to use a

different translation for the Lord's prayer.

Congregations may think creatively about ways to involve

youth or catechetical students in portraying (by mural,

mime,etc.) the petitions of the Lord's Prayer.

Exegete: Rev. John R. Spangler

Rev. John R. Spangler serves as Executive Assistant to the President for Communication and Planning for the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. Ordained by the Lutheran Church in America in 1983, he served as pastor to Christ Lutheran Church, West Boylston, MA and Christ the King Lutheran Church, Nashua, NH. He also served part time on the New England Synod staff as its communications officer for 15 years.

John serves on the Board of Governors for the Religion Communicators Council, a national interfaith organization for religious communicators, and as a team leader for the seminary's planning, assessment and governance support staff team. He also serves as president of the Seminary Ridge Historic Preservation Foundation, a subsidiary of the seminary.

His wife, the Rev. Dr. Maria Erling, teaches the History of Christianity in North America and Global Mission at the Seminary. He and Maria have two daughters, Marta and Johanna.


B.A., Carthage College, 1979

M.Div., Yale University Divinity School,1983

James, Apostle

July 26, 2010 (transferred from July 25)
1 Kings 19:9-18
Psalm 7:1-10 (10)
Acts 11:27—12:3a
Mark 10:35-45

Prayer of the Day

Gracious God, we remember before you today your servant and apostle James, the first among the twelve to be martyred for the name of Jesus Christ. Pour out on the leaders of your church that spirit of self-denying service which is the true mark of authority among your people, through Jesus Christ our servant, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righ- | teousness' sake,
for theirs is the king- | dom of heaven. Alleluia. (Matt. 5:10)

Color: Scarlet/Red

1a. CONTEXT: Mark 10:35-45

This striking incident, paralleled in Matthew 20:20-28, gives a picture of the meaning of discipleship. It undoubtedly circulated in more than one form, since Mark's version has James and John approaching Jesus directly, while Matthew softens the picture of the two disciples by having the approach made by their ambitious mother. The reaction of the other disciples is a clear picture of their humanity and leads us to suspect that these qualities were not foreign to James and John. Indeed, it is a testimony to the integrity of the Markan author, as many scholars agree, that he has not concealed the very human realities of the apostolic band.
C. S. Mann, whose Anchor Bible commentary holds that Mark is written after Matthew and Luke, is at pains to suggest that Mark obviously has based his version on a source earlier than theirs or at least has quoted it with more integrity, as the use of the disciples' names would indicate.

The placement of this story in the Markan account is not without significance. It comes very late in Jesus ministry, right on the edge of the final days in Jerusalem. Already many followers have "fallen away." It is a tribute to the disciples that, despite their misunderstanding of Jesus' purpose and destiny, they are still part of his entourage. Even though they many not understand what it means to drink of his cup, they are still ready to share it and they are still with him after they have heard (and perhaps again misunderstood) his explanation.

This is surely an appropriate moment to deal with the issues of Messiahship and the issues of discipleship. The drama of the Passion episodes is heightened by this theological stage-setting. While the vision of Messianic servanthood might never have occurred to the disciples at this point in time, it is clearly Jesus' intention to raise the issue and to look toward the role of the Suffering Servant. Simultaneously the opportunity presents itself to deal with the nature of discipleship. The disciples (and theearly Church, for that matter) have a recurring all-to-human picture of hierarchical government and hierarchical honor. The incident and the reported words of Jesus bring an altogether different picture of church government and of the Christian's calling.
It is in this setting, then, that the story is told, and it is filled with very human elements: the ambitions of James and John, the ambitions of their fellow disciples, the quick and easy responses ("Lord, we are able"), and the sense, confirmed by the words of Jesus in the story, that these disciples will in the end pay something of the price proposed, the price of discipleship, even suffering and martyrdom.
1b. Text: Mark 10:35-45
10:35 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you."
10:36 And he said to them, "What is it you want me to do for you?"
10:37 And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory."
10:38 But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?"
10:39 They replied, "We are able." Then Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;
10:40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared."
10:41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John.
10:42 So Jesus called them and said to them, "You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them.
10:43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 10:44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.
10:45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.

1b. TEXT: Mark 10:35-45


The Request of James and John

35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, [1] 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave [2] of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

[1] 10:43 Greek diakonos

[2] 10:44 Greek bondservant (doulos)


35Καὶ προσπορεύονται αὐτῷ Ἰάκωβος καὶ Ἰωάννης οἱ υἱοὶ Ζεβεδαίου λέγοντες αὐτῷ, Διδάσκαλε, θέλομεν ἵνα ὃ ἐὰν αἰτήσωμέν σε ποιήσῃς ἡμῖν. 36ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Τί θέλετέ [με] ποιήσω ὑμῖν; 37οἱ δὲ εἶπαν αὐτῷ, Δὸς ἡμῖν ἵνα εἷς σου ἐκ δεξιῶν καὶ εἷς ἐξ ἀριστερῶν καθίσωμεν ἐν τῇ δόξῃ σου. 38ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Οὐκ οἴδατε τί αἰτεῖσθε. δύνασθε πιεῖν τὸ ποτήριον ὃ ἐγὼ πίνω, ἢ τὸ βάπτισμα ὃ ἐγὼ βαπτίζομαι βαπτισθῆναι; 39οἱ δὲ εἶπαν αὐτῷ, Δυνάμεθα. ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Τὸ ποτήριον ὃ ἐγὼ πίνω πίεσθε καὶ τὸ βάπτισμα ὃ ἐγὼ βαπτίζομαι βαπτισθήσεσθε, 40τὸ δὲ καθίσαι ἐκ δεξιῶν μου ἢ ἐξ εὐωνύμων οὐκ ἔστιν ἐμὸν δοῦναι, ἀλλ' οἷς ἡτοίμασται. 41Καὶ ἀκούσαντες οἱ δέκα ἤρξαντο ἀγανακτεῖν περὶ Ἰακώβου καὶ Ἰωάννου. 42καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος αὐτοὺς ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγει αὐτοῖς, Οἴδατε ὅτι οἱ δοκοῦντες ἄρχειν τῶν ἐθνῶν κατακυριεύουσιν αὐτῶν καὶ οἱ μεγάλοι αὐτῶν κατεξουσιάζουσιν αὐτῶν. 43οὐχ οὕτως δέ ἐστιν ἐν ὑμῖν: ἀλλ' ὃς ἂν θέλῃ μέγας γενέσθαι ἐν ὑμῖν, ἔσται ὑμῶν διάκονος, 44καὶ ὃς ἂν θέλῃ ἐν ὑμῖν εἶναι πρῶτος, ἔσται πάντων δοῦλος: 45καὶ γὰρ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οὐκ ἦλθεν διακονηθῆναι ἀλλὰ διακονῆσαι καὶ δοῦναι τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ λύτρον ἀντὶ πολλῶν.

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 10:35-45

Mk. 10:35 - "James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, 'Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.'" - There is reflected here a typical Oriental approach to the asking of a favor; that is, the attempt to get the favor granted before the actual content of the favor is revealed. We may see here something of our modern tendency to wish to bargain with God, to attempt to escape the obvious consequences of our own misdeeds. Obviously James and John know what their compatriots among the disciples will think. But, being human, they try anyway.
10:37 -- "... Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory." - The expectation of the disciples is that Jesus will ultimately be crowned as an earthly ruler. In their understanding, the chief associates of the ruler sat in the places of honor, first place on the right and second place on the left (even though sinistra or "left" ordinarily carried with it the suggestion of evil). That competition for place or for power is obviously not limited to the disciples. It is a manifestation often to be seen today, not only in the political arena but in basic human relationships and even in the church itself.

v. 38 - . - "You do not know what you are asking." Here is a phrase which characterizes much of the Christian practice of prayer. All sorts of requests are mouthed in prayer or even made in the greatest depth of sincerity and concern, but they are voiced without consideration of the consequences of answered prayer. Jesus suggests that the disciples have no understanding of the price of their request. He puts that very succinctly in his next sentence.

v. 38 - - "Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" - Both of these terms, cup and baptism carry a freight of meaning quite beyond what the disciples seem to understand. To drink from a cup offered by a ruling monarch might indicate that one had been offered a great honor, a gift of prestige. But it can also mean to share in the cup of hemlock (remember Socrates) or of suffering. It may in this context carry with it the sense of the eucharistic cup which is shared at the Last Supper, "the new covenant in my blood." Likewise baptism, surely familiar to the disciples as a rite of symbolic cleansing, carries also the meaning suggested by John the Baptist, a baptism by fire. Here also is the load of possible martyrdom and suffering -- not what the disciples have hoped for. As C. S. Mann points out, Rom. 6:3 ("We have been baptized into his death") may very well be a reminiscence of this saying.

v. 40 - "but it is for those for who it has been prepared." - The entire verse deals with the question of precedence, and Jesus suggests that it is not his to award, but is to be given instead to those who are fitted for such a place. The issue here is not really one of predestination or even divine foreknowledge, but simply one of worth. There is a sense in which such a place is to be earned, and we need to remind ourselves that those who set out to earn
it have already disqualified themselves. Only those who give themselves unreservedly and for no trivial reasons will be judged as worthy. Jesus' explanations in verse 45 will state this in the most positive fashion.

v. 44 - doulos - "slave". Notice the way in which Jesus goes beyond mere servanthood in describing the role of the Christian disciple. It is not just servant that is being described here, the commitment of the disciple goes to the point of slavery. The word "doulos" sometimes refers to the freed slave, who for love of master, might, in a little ceremony involving the piercing of the ear by an awl to the doorpost of the master's home, continue his slavery out of love, becoming therefore a "love slave" of the family. Surely no homiletical commentary is needed at this point.
v. 45 - - "For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many." Here is the heart of our story, a clear statement attributed to Jesus very early in the life of the early Church, a statement which carries with it the sense of atonement, of the vision of Jesus as lutron or "ransom." The Greek is always used either for the price for the return of a captive (ransom) or for the purchase price for the manumission of slaves. We need not adopt a substitutionary theory of atonement to see the value of the analogy in understanding the picture of the Messiah's redemptive work. Side by side with this picture is to be gained a picture of that discipleship which shares Messiah's cup and Messiah's baptism. This is strong medicine indeed.

3. STRATEGY: Mark 10:35-45

The homilist is apt to be overwhelmed with the many possibilities presented by this pericope. One of course would deal with the cost of servanthood, some reexamination of what it means to be a Christian disciple. There is also the opportunity for political commentary with meditation
upon the current emphasis on power (to the point of corruption) and unimpeded leadership from above with unquestioning obedience from the lower levels of the citizenry.

Still another emphasis might look upon the "preferential option" for the poor and the dispossessed. Surely the picture of Jesus who gives his life as a ransom for the many leads in such a direction. The implied criticism of the powerful and the mighty in Jesus' description of his own calling would also point in this direction.

Or there could be found here the source of powerful preaching dealing with the sin of pride and the perils of overweening ambition. The spectacle of the entire company of the disciples making such an emphasis upon place in the coming Kingdom on the very eve of the Passion and the Crucifixion can surely be the source of real inspiration at this point. There are parallels in our own time, not only outside the church in the arenas of business and politics, but within the community of faith. How many local churches have been destroyed by this kind of interior pushing and shoving to achieve some relatively trivial place of perceived power!

4. References: Mark 10:35-45

Mann, C. S., The Anchor Bible: Mark, Translation, Introduction and Commentary. Doubleday & Co., Garden City, New York, 1986, pp. 410-420.

Tannehill, Robert C., A Mirror for Disciples, A Study of the Gospel of Mark. Discipleship Resources, Nashville, Tennessee, 1977, pp. 85-90.

5. Music Suggestions: Mark 10:35-45

Alleluia! Sing to Jesus (HB 460/1, LBW 158, ELW 392)
God, who stretched the spangled heavens (HB 580, LBW 463, ELW 771)
Hail, thou once despised Jesus (HB 495, st. 1-2 )
My song is love unknown (HB 458, LBW 94, ELW 343 )
O, Master let me walk with thee (HB 659/60, LBW 492, ELW 818)
The head that once was crowned with thorns (HB 483, LBW 173, ELW 342)
When I survey the wondrous cross (HB 474, LBW 482, ELW 803)

Exegetes - Rev. David B. Sageser & Rev. Walt Craig, Delaware, Ohio


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