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Monday, August 30, 2010

+ Pentecost + FIFTEEN, 2010 +

Lexegete™ | Year C | Luke

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 5, 2010 (Lectionary 23)

Complementary Series

Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Psalm 1 (3)
Philemon 1:1-21
Luke 14:25-33

Semicontinuous Series

Jeremiah 18:1-11
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18
Philemon 1:1-21
Luke 14:25-33

Prayer of the Day
Direct us, O Lord God, in all our doings with your continual help, that in all our works, begun, continued, and ended in you, we may glorify your holy name; and finally, by your mercy, bring us to everlasting life, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Gospel Acclamation
Alleluia. Let your faith shine up- | on your servant,
and teach | me your statutes. Alleluia. (Ps. 119:135)


1a. Context: Luke 14:25-33

This text marks a break in the narrative with a shift in audience (from the rulers of the synagogue to the crowds) and in location (from a house to the road). However, there has been no corresponding shift in theme. The theme remains that of the coming reign of God. This text must be read within the full context of discipleship—its measure and its cost.

The full section consists of an introduction (v. 25), two parallel sayings on discipleship (vs. 26ƒ), two parabolic sayings with an application (vs. 28—30, 31f., 33) and a conclusion (vs. 34ƒ). The opening sayings and the application express the total commitment required from disciples; they repeat teaching found in 18:29ƒ an 9.23, and the parallel in Mt 10:37ƒ indicates that they form a Q doublet to the Marcan teaching. The summary in v. 33 is probably an editorial composition, based on Q (Marshall, p. 591). Why the compilers of the lexionary omitted vs. 34 and 35 is unknown. The preacher must include vs. 34 and 35 in study and preaching in order to retain the integrity of the section and the promise available to the disciple within the journey.

Since Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem” (9:51) Luke has been employing the theme of a purposive journey to the cross. This journey concerns itself with the cost Jesus himself must pay, and here a warning concerning the cost the disciple must pay in accompanying Jesus. Those who have accompanied Jesus (literally, “as many crowds were journeying with him”) were doing so with uncompromising enthusiasm. They thought that this march to Jerusalem was the victory march of the Messiah and they wanted to be on hand when he claimed the throne. In characteristic fashion Jesus reverses popular thought. This journey requires recruits and not spectators, disciples with undivided loyalty and a clear vision of what is required (Caird p. 178).

The guests in the preceding parable (14:15—24) refused to face the cost of accepting the invitation to the messianic banquet. Here the opposite is the case. The issue is embarking on the journey without first counting the cost. In either case the result is the same, that of missing the Kingdom. Missing the Kingdom is the same in both instances since those invited fail to heed Jesus’ call to bear one’s own cross and follow.” They fail to die to the self and hold Jesus and his journey as the center.

1b. Text: Luke 14:25-33

Lk. 14:25 Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them,

Lk. 14:26 "Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.

Lk. 14:27 Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Lk. 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it?

Lk. 14:29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him,

Lk. 14:30 saying, `This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'

Lk. 14:31 Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand?

Lk. 14:32 If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace.

Lk. 14:33 So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.


25Συνεπορεύοντο δὲ αὐτῷ ὄχλοι πολλοί, καὶ στραφεὶς εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς, 26Εἴ τις ἔρχεται πρός με καὶ οὐ μισεῖ τὸν πατέρα ἑαυτοῦ καὶ τὴν μητέρα καὶ τὴν γυναῖκα καὶ τὰ τέκνα καὶ τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς καὶ τὰς ἀδελφάς, ἔτι τε καὶ τὴν ψυχὴν ἑαυτοῦ, οὐ δύναται εἶναί μου μαθητής. 27ὅστις οὐ βαστάζει τὸν σταυρὸν ἑαυτοῦ καὶ ἔρχεται ὀπίσω μου οὐ δύναται εἶναί μου μαθητής. 28τίς γὰρ ἐξ ὑμῶν θέλων πύργον οἰκοδομῆσαι οὐχὶ πρῶτον καθίσας ψηφίζει τὴν δαπάνην, εἰ ἔχει εἰς ἀπαρτισμόν; 29ἵνα μήποτε θέντος αὐτοῦ θεμέλιον καὶ μὴ ἰσχύοντος ἐκτελέσαι πάντες οἱ θεωροῦντες ἄρξωνται αὐτῷ ἐμπαίζειν 30λέγοντες ὅτι Οὗτος ὁ ἄνθρωπος ἤρξατο οἰκοδομεῖν καὶ οὐκ ἴσχυσεν ἐκτελέσαι. 31ἢ τίς βασιλεὺς πορευόμενος ἑτέρῳ βασιλεῖ συμβαλεῖν εἰς πόλεμον οὐχὶ καθίσας πρῶτον βουλεύσεται εἰ δυνατός ἐστιν ἐν δέκα χιλιάσιν ὑπαντῆσαι τῷ μετὰ εἴκοσι χιλιάδων ἐρχομένῳ ἐπ' αὐτόν; 32εἰ δὲ μή γε, ἔτι αὐτοῦ πόρρω ὄντος πρεσβείαν ἀποστείλας ἐρωτᾷ τὰ πρὸς εἰρήνην. 33οὕτως οὖν πᾶς ἐξ ὑμῶν ὃς οὐκ ἀποτάσσεται πᾶσιν τοῖς ἑαυτοῦ ὑπάρχουσιν οὐ δύναται εἶναί μου μαθητής.

2. Analysis: Luke 14:25-33

vs. 26 misev (o`y misei) does not hate

It is not hatred in the psychological sense—that of strongly disliking someone—but to renounce, reject or disown that relationship on religious grounds. It is hatred of those people to whom one is obligated to love (see apotassv below).

vs 27 “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me… ”
There is the expectation that to be a disciple of Jesus would be to share in his fate, or at least be brought into danger of death.

vs 28. pyrgow (uelvn pyrgon oikodomhsai) desiring to build a tower
This is not a public structure such as a military fortress would have. Nor is it a simple field tower as in Mk 12:1 considering the extensive planning of a foundation. It seems to be a large tower-like private house of many stories. Thus a poor choice of text that President Reagan to used in justifying a military build-up.

vs. 33 apotassv (oyk apotassetai) does not renounce, give up
In the NT this word is found only in the mid.: “to part from.” Here Jesus demands a radical renunciation of all possessions. This word is closely tied with misev above (to hate 26), but here with the distinction of property. Luke’s Gospel, more than Mt and Mk is concerned with possessions and their effect on discipleship. In many passages being rich is a stumbling block to true discipleship (18.22f) and is a negative good (8:14). In Luke Jesus gives strong ethical directions to the community together with the promise that renunciation of riches is the thing that will bring gain in this time and for eternal life.

vs 35 mvr`ow (to alaw mvranuh) the salt has lost its taste
The difficulty of this passage is that salt cannot lose its chemical qualities. Regardless of any dissolving or heating salt remains sodium chloride. Yet, various scholars have attempted to explain this saying by supposing an impure salt.

Certainly, Jesus knew that it is impossible for salt to loose its saltiness, and that impossibility is what lies at the root of this parable. It is akin to the parable of the camel and the needle’s eye or the rich man entering the kingdom of God. Here the point is from the other side, however. What Jesus brings and gives to his disciples cannot become tasteless—loose its value. The Gospel is as incorruptible and insoluble as salt. The Gospel in not dependent upon the disciples. Salvation is a gift of God and thus cannot be destroyed.

Bertram, in TDNT (IV:838-9), writes of this word: “The mvranuh now suggests, not the physical impossibility of a change in the chemical constitution of salt, but the psychical possibility of a change in the faith of disciples. The warning concerns the earthly being of the disciple. He who through the powerful Word of Christ has become an apostle, a fisher, a shepherd, a rock, loses all value if his faith vacillates and he falls away. Thus the Lord’s word of grace becomes a word of judgment.”

3. Strategy: Luke 14:25-33

Jesus said, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Lk. 14:27). “When Christ calls a man,” says Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “he bids him come and die.”

Both Luke and Bonhoeffer were writing to churches whose lives of faith were like that of our own, an established, complacent church, a church in which Jesus is one option among many, with a requirement of discipleship tailored to fit the individual’s tolerances and preferences. Luke and Bonhoeffer in their own situations knew there was more at stake in claiming discipleship of Jesus than the prevailing thought allowed or espoused. For Luke it was a church in mission to the very heart of secular Rome, for Bonhoeffer it was a church in opposition to the German Church which embraced and legitimized the Nazi party. For us today, the lines are drawn less well.

In writing about verse 26 of this text in The Cost of Discipleship (Chapter 5, “Discipleship and the Individual”), Bonhoeffer at first seems to call for a radical individuality of the disciple: “Through the call of Jesus men become individuals.” But it is a call to an individuality of which our society is unfamiliar. When confronted with a conflict of loyalty, the disciple will give priority to the requirements of the Kingdom, and even one’s own life may be disposable (Danker, New Age, p. 167).

It is the call of our society to fulfill one’s own potential that is at variance with Jesus’ call to come and die. It is difficult to make strong distinctions between discipleship and being a spectator. The daily life of discipleship in the American church today seems more akin to participation in an ice cream social or group therapy session than in a battle against the forces of evil that surround us. Regardless how much the church seeks to present itself to YUPPIES as the place where individuals may be “affirmed,” the call to a cruciform discipleship remains.

The individualism of Bonhoeffer’s Jesus is one that despises and hates one’s relatives, and more radically, is dead to itself. In hearing and taking up the call to discipleship a barrier is placed between the believer and natural life, between the believer and the self. Yet, this is not a call for becoming hermits or to hold life in contempt, “it is the life which is life indeed, the gospel, the person of Jesus Christ…. By his (Jesus’) calling us he has cut us off from all immediacy with the things of this world. He wants to be the center, through him alone all things shall come to pass” (Bonhoeffer, p. 106).

The death of the individual, and the hating of all that is of the world are harsh things for Christians of any era to hear and even harder to follow, but they are the way to true discipleship. However, the preacher had best be wary lest he or she preach a message of good works to attain discipleship, as though one really had the capacity to die to the self. The Old Adam and Eve in each of us fights (literally) like hell not to die. The way to the radical discipleship Jesus calls us to is not through our own power or intent, but through the One who has already “taken up his own cross.”

It is the power of God in the incarnate Word to convict us of our self-centeredness. It is through our dying together with him in the death of Baptism (Romans 6.4) that we die to the self and are raised again as new creatures to live as God intends us to live. In this death we become freed from that which holds us back from the journey with Christ as his disciples. And in being so freed we can come back to them in a new way. In writing of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac, Bonhoeffer says, “…at that very moment all that he (Abraham) had surrendered was given back to him…. but henceforth he will have his son in quite a new way—through the Mediator (Christ) and for the Mediator’s sake” (p. 111).

The gift of discipleship which Jesus opens to us on the cross and which he brings and gives to his disciples cannot become tasteless—loose its value—just as salt cannot become tasteless. The Gospel is as incorruptible and insoluble as salt. The Gospel in not dependent upon the disciples’ individual capacity to follow, but upon Christ alone. Salvation is a gift of God and thus cannot be destroyed. But there is a warning.

The warning concerns the earthly being of the disciple who through the powerful Word of Christ has become an apostle, a fisher, a shepherd, a rock, loses all value if he or she turns back to the old self seeking to storm the gates of heaven independently. In refusal to die daily through repentance and in a return to the ways of the old self, the Lord’s word of grace becomes a word of judgement.

Exegete: Rev. Thomas S. Hanson

4. References: Luke 14:25-33

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich, The Cost of Discipleship, revised edition. Translated by R. H. Fuller. (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1963).

Caird, G.B. The Gospel of St. Luke. (Baltimore, Maryland: Penguin Books, Inc., 1963).

Danker, Frederick W. Jesus and the New Age: According to Luke (St. Louis, Missouri: Clayton Publishing House, 1972.)

________________. Luke in Proclamation Commentaries: The New Testament Witness for Preaching, Gerhard Krodel, ed.
(Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1976).

Juel, Donald H. and Buttrick, David. Pentecost 2: Series C in Proclamation 2: Aids for Interpreting the Lessons of the Church Year, Elizabeth Achtemeier, et al, eds. (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1980).

Kittel, Gerhard and Friedrich, Gerhard, eds. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. 10 vols. Translated by Geoffrey W. Bromiley. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1964).

Marshall, I. Howard, The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978).

5. Worship & Music Suggestions

That this text comes just prior to Labor Day, one may wish to use the holiday to talk about and to celebrate the various vocations of the congregation as being ways of cruciform discipleship in the community.

Hymn Suggestions:

Gathering: Lift High the Cross - ELW 660

Hymn of the Day: Take my Life that I may Be – ELW 583 or 685

Offertory: Come to the Table - ELW 481

Communion: Let us Ever Walk with Jesus – ELW 802

Sending: Earth & All Stars - ELW 731


LEXEGETE™ © 2010

Tischrede Software

Dartmouth,MA 02747


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

+ Pentecost 14 + Luke 14: 1, 7-14 +

Lexegete™ | Year C | St. Luke

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
August 29, 2010 (Lectionary 22)

Complementary Series

Proverbs 25:6-7 or Sirach 10:12-18
Psalm 112 (4)
Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16
Luke 14:1, 7-14

Semicontinuous Series

Jeremiah 2:4-13
Psalm 81:1, 10-16 (16)
Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16
Luke 14:1, 7-14

Prayer of the Day

O God, you resist those who are proud and give grace to those who are humble, Give us the humility of your Son, that we may embody the generosity of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia. Take my yoke upon you, and | learn from me;
for I am gentle and hum- | ble in heart. Alleluia. (Matt 11:29)

1a. CONTEXT: Luke 14:1,7-14

Since Pentecost 11 (Lk 12:13—21) we have been dealing with themes surrounding the coming Reign of God. The texts have concerned themselves with one’s preparedness for the coming Day. The focus has narrowed considerably in the last two weeks dealing with the End of the Age questions and warnings. In Luke 12:49-53 (Pent 13) Jesus speaks of the coming divisions among those who area a part of the Reign of God and those who oppose it. In 13:22-30 (Pent 14) the warnings continue surrounding those who are inside at the banquet and those who stand outside desiring entrance.

In Luke table scenes are formative for the explication of the gospel in its eschatological reality and its social reality in the present. The issue here and elsewhere is one of status. Who one invites to dinner and by whom one is invited are means of climbing the social ladder. “Jesus’ advice is not simply worldly wisdom but a warning that those who consider themselves privileged may be humbled. Likewise inviting the poor and the outcasts is not simply a more prudent way of achieving status in God’s eyes. Jesus suggests that meals be the occasion for a very different kind of relationship among God’s children” (Juel and Buttrick, p. 37).

Taken from the perspective of Reign of God themes, our text seems to have little or no connection what what precedes it. Outwardly it appears to be yet another controversy story between Jesus and the Pharisees contrasting proper table manners of those who would maintain perfection of the law and Jesus’ new command to love. However, the imagery of the Messianic banquet in 13:22—30 and the sabbath meal of 14:1 provides a direct connection with the text under consideration. The issue is one of more than proper table manners, it is a question of an open acceptance of all under the coming Reign of God.

That Jesus chooses yet another table scene to teach concerning the Reign of God should be of no surprise, for in the Synoptics (and in the church) it is always at table that the disciples see and know Jesus best.

1ba. TEXT: Luke 14:1,7-14


Healing of a Man on the Sabbath

14:1 One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully.
Luke 14:7-14

The Parable of the Wedding Feast

7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The Parable of the Great Banquet

12 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers [1] or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

[1] 14:12 Or your brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters

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


1Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ ἐλθεῖν αὐτὸν εἰς οἶκόν τινος τῶν ἀρχόντων [τῶν] Φαρισαίων σαββάτῳ φαγεῖν ἄρτον καὶ αὐτοὶ ἦσαν παρατηρούμενοι αὐτόν. . . .

7Ἔλεγεν δὲ πρὸς τοὺς κεκλημένους παραβολήν, ἐπέχων πῶς τὰς πρωτοκλισίας ἐξελέγοντο, λέγων πρὸς αὐτούς, 8Οταν κληθῇς ὑπό τινος εἰς γάμους, μὴ κατακλιθῇς εἰς τὴν πρωτοκλισίαν, μήποτε ἐντιμότερός σου ᾖ κεκλημένος ὑπ' αὐτοῦ, 9καὶ ἐλθὼν ὁ σὲ καὶ αὐτὸν καλέσας ἐρεῖ σοι, Δὸς τούτῳ τόπον, καὶ τότε ἄρξῃ μετὰ αἰσχύνης τὸν ἔσχατον τόπον κατέχειν. 10ἀλλ' ὅταν κληθῇς πορευθεὶς ἀνάπεσε εἰς τὸν ἔσχατον τόπον, ἵνα ὅταν ἔλθῃ ὁ κεκληκώς σε ἐρεῖ σοι, Φίλε, προσανάβηθι ἀνώτερον: τότε ἔσται σοι δόξα ἐνώπιον πάντων τῶν συνανακειμένων σοι. 11ὅτι πᾶς ὁ ὑψῶν ἑαυτὸν ταπεινωθήσεται καὶ ὁ ταπεινῶν ἑαυτὸν ὑψωθήσεται. 12Ἔλεγεν δὲ καὶ τῷ κεκληκότι αὐτόν, Οταν ποιῇς ἄριστον ἢ δεῖπνον, μὴ φώνει τοὺς φίλους σου μηδὲ τοὺς ἀδελφούς σου μηδὲ τοὺς συγγενεῖς σου μηδὲ γείτονας πλουσίους, μήποτε καὶ αὐτοὶ ἀντικαλέσωσίν σε καὶ γένηται ἀνταπόδομά σοι. 13ἀλλ' ὅταν δοχὴν ποιῇς, κάλει πτωχούς, ἀναπείρους, χωλούς, τυφλούς: 14καὶ μακάριος ἔσῃ, ὅτι οὐκ ἔχουσιν ἀνταποδοῦναί σοι, ἀνταποδοθήσεται γάρ σοι ἐν τῇ ἀναστάσει τῶν δικαίων.

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 14:1,7-14

vs. 1 archonteo —a ruler
The significance of archonteo is not clear. It may refer to rulers who belonged to the Pharasiac party, or to rulers of the synagogue, or to leading men among the Pharisees.

sabbaton —sabbath
The situation appears to be a meal following the sabbath service in the synagogue. That Lk should record that this particular meal took place on the Lord’s day reveals a tie to proper behavior in THE Lord’s day.

vs. 7 kalein (kekleimenogon, and variations) —to invite

Most generally this word is translated “to call” or “to invite,” though there is a special nuance which suggests the more distinctive sense of “vocation.” This gives rise to the main question from the standpoint of biblical theology and serves to bind the whole section together: 14:8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 16, 17, 24; cf 5:32 and 7:39.

kalein is an ordinary word which acquires special significance through the naming of salvation as the basis and goal and especially of God as the Author and Consummator. God calls His own by grace and to grace. He does this finally and definitively through Jesus Christ, who is the fulness of grace.

ekelegomai (exelegonto) —how they chose
Two Lukan passages (14:7; 10:42) which use this word bear the meaning “to select from among many possibilities” or “to decide between two possibilities.” However, in its use in the LXX it is translated as “elected,” thus a link with the idea of God’s election.

protoklisa—place of honor
Where one sat at a banquet depended upon rank and distinction at this time; after AD 300 it depended upon age. The top place at a Jewish meal was at the head end of the table or the middle of the middle couch. (Cf. 14:8; 20:46 par Mk 12:39/Mt23:6).

vs. 9 sxaton—last, least, lowest
Matthew speaks of the ‘worse’ place (eitten) and the arrival of the inferior guest. Luke’s use of sxaton draws the mind of the reader beyond the earthly feast and its table manners to the final feast, the eschaton, the reign of God.

vs. 10 This verse is parallel to vs 9, however, it is stated as a positive command rather than as a negative command.

'ina— so that— expresses the result rather than purpose.

vs. 11 tapeinoo (tapeineystai) —the one who humbles
Three passages in the NT (Mt 23:12; Lk 14:11; 18:14) contain this saying. The saying has an OT basis and there are Rabbinical parallels. It is a two-membered mashal whose very form betrays its Jewish origin. In using it Jesus adopts a basic experience of the Israelite and non-biblical world but makes it into a saying expressing God’s eschatological work, as may be seen from the future form.

In Lk 14:1 the saying comes at the end of an illustration which is modeled on Proverbs 25:6ƒ (the OT Lesson for this day). The starting point in Lk. is the ambition of the invited guests. The conclusion demands submission to God’s decision rather than arrogant anticipation of it.

Jesus is speaking to adults. He is conscious of their lost childlikeness before God. He thus gives humility a special nuance. It is to become a child again before God, i.e., to trust God utterly, to expect everything from God and nothing from self. It is worth noting that Jesus neither practices nor demands the visible self-abasement. Indeed, he is critical of such practices.

vs. 12 antapodidymi (antapodoma) related word (misuoo) —reward, repay
The root of this word is apodidvmi meaning “to give or do something which one should in fulfillment of an obligation or expectation.” Adding the prefix anti-- strengthens the thought of repayment.

In the Synoptic Gospels a related word is (misuoo (reward). The concept of reward is presented just as freely as the threat of punishment. To do God’s will by not heaping up earthly treasurers (Mt 6:19-21), or as Luke says, by giving them away, is to lay up treasure in heaven which will one day be paid out as a reward.

vs. 14 anisthmi (anas. tein dikaiein) — resurrection of the just.

The general resurrection has that of Jesus as its first-fruits (Acts 26:23; I Corinthians 15:20; Colossians 1:18). In the NT, the inner logic of faith is towards the resurrection to life (I Cor. 15:22; Roms 8:11; Jn 6:39,40, 44,54).

Nevertheless, the predominant view is that of a double resurrection (Jn 5:29; cf. Roms 14:9; II Cor 5:10). Possibly in Lk 14:14, and certainly in Rev. 20:5,6, Jewish tradition is followed and the resurrection to life is seen as a prior act in time at the beginning of the millennium.

3. Strategy: Luke 14:1,7-14

The preacher is offered a wide scope of options in this text. The text of season of Pentecost often focus on discipleship, on following Jesus into the world. In this text we are presented with a fork in the road in the journey. One option is to follow the fork of the moral and ethical principles of “table manners.” The other fork follows the believer’s place and actions in the coming feast—the reign of God.

If we take the first fork of “table manners” we are presented with many images to use. Coming as this text does in early September when the harvest is beginning, one can speak of the believer’s status in the reign of God, and the responsibility to the least. When invited to the feast set before us in this country with its bounty we should realize that it is not an earned invitation, but a sheer gift. Therefore, one should not be hauty and selfish when coming to the table. Further, the disciple on the road with Jesus is to share with those who have nothing and who can give nothing in return.

The second fork of the text brings us closer to matters of the heart. Yet here, too, is another fork in the road for the preacher. Each takes us deeper into the woods. The first fork is the fork of “evangelism.” The second fork is the fork of “grace alone.” Which road is taken depends upon the understanding of the believer’s life-situation.

Evangelism means more than telling the story of the reign of God. It means being the gospel for those with whom we come into contact. The believer’s faith relationship to the outsider, the least, is the theme here. No one has anything of which to boast or claim when invited to the feast of God. All are on equal footing. As Luther said, “We are all beggars.”
This confession guides the believer’s response to the host as well as to the least. A church who seeks out “good members,” those who are good prospects with a good chance of contributing to the congregation, has misunderstood its own standing as a “good member” in the reign of God and has misunderstood Jesus’ command.

To be a good guest and a good host is to enter first into the reality of one’s own sinfulness, and unworthiness. And it is from that position of recognized sinfulness that real evangelism takes place, in the depths of human depravity. It is those who minister to the AIDS victim, the abused, the poor—even the hard-core poor—and who do not judge who bring the good news in its purest form.

The fork of “grace alone” leads us into the darkest, yet most beautiful, part of the forest. It is dark because all that we are able to control—evangelism, stewardship and the like—have been stripped away and we are naked.

To walk this path in preaching and living is to take a fresh look at the main character of these twin parables. We are not the center. It is not a question of being a humble guest, nor of being a gracious host. The sabbath feast is set before us already. Jesus has taken the lowest position at God’s feast and God has exalted him for our sake. We who are “the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind” have already been invited to the feast.

Yet, we are the ones looking for ways to repay! God expects no repayment, none is possible. God simply invites all to the feast.

Perhaps for once we need to be still, to come to the Table knowing that these great gifts are already paid for. It is there that we are nourished for our journey which will take us down all those other forks in the road, to people and places that need to hear the gracious invitation:
“You who have no money, come receive bread, and eat. Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk.”
Exegete: Rev. Thomas S. Hanson is Interim Pastor, Florida-Bahamas Synod, ELCA - St Mark-by-the Sea Lutheran Church

4. References: Luke 14:1,7-14

Conzelmann, Hans. The Theology of St. Luke. (New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1961).

Danker, Frederick W. Jesus and the New Age: According to Luke (St. Louis, Missouri: Clayton Publishing House, 1972.)

________________. Luke in Proclamation Commentaries: The New Testament Witness for Preaching, Gerhard Kordel, ed. (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1976).

Jervell, Jacob. Luke and the People of God. (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1972).

Juel, Donald H. and Buttrick, David. Pentecost 2: Series C in Proclamation 2: Aids for Interpreting the Lessons of the Church Year, Elizabeth Achtemeier, et al, eds. (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1980).

Kittel, Gerhard and Friedrich, Gerhard, eds. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. 10 vols. Translated by Geoffrey W. Bromiley. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1964).

Marshall, I. Howard, The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978).

5. Worship & Music Suggestions: Luke 14:1,7-14

It would be most appropriate to celebrate the Lord’s Supper on this day whether or not regularly scheduled in your parish. Creative Ministers of the Table can always find a rationale for squeezing in one more Holy Communion service. Perhaps it could be justified as a welcome home feast to those who have been “at the lake” all summer, or as a celebration of the beginning of “the programming year.” If all else fails, plan an all-church pot-luck after the morning worship. In whatever way possible, break bread together! It is in the actions we learn around that Table that teach us how to act around the many tables from which we eat in our daily lives. The action of eating and drinking together is the surest sign and work on earth that the reign of God is active in and transforming the lives of God’s people.

Hymn Suggestions: Luke 14:1,7-14

O God of Earth and Altar (LBW 428)

Lord, Whose Love in Humble Service (ELW 712)

Come to Calvary’s Holy Mountain (LBW 301)

The Nunc Dimittis in its various hymn or psalm tone settings would be appropriate if one has followed the last fork suggested in Strategy such as:

O Lord, Now Let Your Servant (ELW 313)

Any number of Holy Communion hymns such as:

O Living Bread from Heaven (ELW 542)

For the Bread Which You Have Broken (ELW 494)


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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

+ Mary, Mother of Our Lord +

Lexegete™ | Year C | St. Luke

Mary, Mother of Our Lord

August 16, 2010 (transferred from August 15)
Isaiah 61:7-11
Psalm 34:1-9 (3)
Galatians 4:4-7
Luke 1:46-55

Prayer of the Day

Almighty God, in choosing the virgin Mary to be the mother of your Son, you made known your gracious regard for the poor, the lowly, and the despised. Grant us grace to receive your word in humility, and so to be made one with your Son, Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia. Greetings, O favored one! The | Lord is with you.
The Holy Spirit will | come upon you. Alleluia. (Luke 1:28, 35)

1a. CONTEXT - Luke 1:46-55

The Magnificat is surely one of the best known passages of
scripture--so familiar, in fact, that preaching on this text poses the
consummate challenge to the pastor who would take scripture seriously,
on its own terms. It is more than a canticle of praise; it is a text which
has posed a consummate dilemma for centuries of faithful women - and if
we are to be faithful to our task, we need to find fresh ways of looking at
what this text has to say. While building on the Song of Hannah (1 Sam.
2:28-32) in both form and content, this text has been identified with other
canticles which Luke has probably taken over from an earlier tradition, the
Benedictus (1:67-79), and the Nunc Dimitis (2:28-32).

It resembles as well, a number of hymns from the Psalms, especially
33, 47, 48, 113, 117, 135, and 136. Fitzmeyer (ANCHOR BIBLE
COMMENTARY, p. 359) argues that the hymn is probably non-Lucan --
especially since it fits so loosely into the context of Luke 1-2. Yet the
text as it stands points to important new dimensions in Luke's theology.
Heralding the reversal of the present order --salvation will come to the
most despised, most oppressed, most disenfranchised; in sum--the most
LOWLY--as represented by Mary herself. Reuther (SEXISM AND GOD-TALK p.
152ff.), in fact, sees the Magnificat as the "key text for the Lucan
identification of Mary with the Church, the New Israel."

Viewed in the context of the infancy narratives ofLuke 1-2, Mary's
song is set in striking contrast to both Hannah's song, on which it depends,
and Elizabeth's comments, which it follows. There are marked
similarities in Hannah's and Elizabeth's plight: both are old, both are
barren, both are dependent on well-churched men.

Elizabeth is even descended from the Aaronic priesthood! Yet as
Hannah's son Samuel annoints the Mighty One's choice of Jesse's smallest
son, David, as king (cf 1 Sam. 16:6-13), so Elizabeth's son John wil
announce the Holy One's choice of the lowly unwed Mary's son Jesus--as
Messiah. Something very new has clearly happened in Israel!

1b. TEXT - Luke 1:46-55


Mary's Song of Praise: The Magnificat

46 And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”


46Καὶ εἶπεν Μαριάμ, Μεγαλύνει ἡ ψυχή μου τὸν κύριον, 47καὶ ἠγαλλίασεν τὸ πνεῦμά μου ἐπὶ τῷ θεῷ τῷ σωτῆρί μου, 48ὅτι ἐπέβλεψεν ἐπὶ τὴν ταπείνωσιν τῆς δούλης αὐτοῦ. ἰδοὺ γὰρ ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν μακαριοῦσίν με πᾶσαι αἱ γενεαί: 49ὅτι ἐποίησέν μοι μεγάλα ὁ δυνατός, καὶ ἅγιον τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ, 50καὶ τὸ ἔλεος αὐτοῦ εἰς γενεὰς καὶ γενεὰς τοῖς φοβουμένοις αὐτόν. 51Ἐποίησεν κράτος ἐν βραχίονι αὐτοῦ, διεσκόρπισεν ὑπερηφάνους διανοίᾳ καρδίας αὐτῶν: 52καθεῖλεν δυνάστας ἀπὸ θρόνων καὶ ὕψωσεν ταπεινούς, 53πεινῶντας ἐνέπλησεν ἀγαθῶν καὶ πλουτοῦντας ἐξαπέστειλεν κενούς. 54ἀντελάβετο Ἰσραὴλ παιδὸς αὐτοῦ, μνησθῆναι ἐλέους, 55καθὼς ἐλάλησεν πρὸς τοὺς πατέρας ἡμῶν, τῷ Ἀβραὰμ καὶ τῷ σπέρματι αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα.

Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition © 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;

The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition © 1975, United Bible Societies, London


Luke 1:46 - my soul magnifies the lord and my spirit rejoices in God my
Savior--It may be desirable to translate "megalynei" as magnify for
familiarity's sake, although JB and Fitzmeyer in the ANCHOR BIBLE use
"declares/proclaims the greatness of...," especially in response to
Elizabeth's previous blessing of Mary (1:42, 45). The emphasis here is
more properly placed on Mary's expression of faith in God, correcting
Elizabeth's focus of blessing on Mary. Hence "my soul spirit

1:48 - tapeinosis--can be translated "humiliation, low estate (KJV, RSV),
or lowliness. It is the same word used by Hannah in 1 Sam. 1:1, usually
translated "affliction." Here it is set in ironic contrast to Hannah's
affliction; Mary's humiliation, her low estate results from being unwed
and pregnant, not married and barren. That set of circumstances renders
their singing the same song all the more powerful.

apo tou nyn - from now on - used often in Luke to denote the new age
of salvation - signals the important changes which are about to take
place- as does the use of "all generations" - shifting the emphasis found in
this phrase in Gen 30:13 spoken by Leah re: her pregnancy "all women will
count me blessed." Luke calls our attention to the inclusivity of the new
age - and hints at larger issues than pregnancy.

1:52b - "he has exalted the lowly" - since tapeinous is used here as in v.
48, it would be best to be consistent in translation whichever form is
used; humiliation, lowly, low estate, etc.


The challenge here is to preach the fullness of the message, and not
diminish that message by magnifying the pregnancy. Mary's faith in God's
plan for her stands over against both Hannah's and Elizabeth's focus on
their own well-being. To focus on the pregnancy is to miss a point worth
considerable rejoicing. God's transforming power in our lives transcends
our experience of either blessing or curse - both of which can be attendant
to child-bearing. This text calls for what Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza
has named a pastoral-theological paradigm of biblical interpretaion.
(BREAD NOT STONE, p. 32ff).

In an era when most women have been searching for a Word that regards
their personhood as well as their motherhood, Mary's rejoicing in God's
regard for her and her faith is indeed Bread for the journey. It helps all of
us who would be true to the new Israel do something new with a passage
usually taken for granted, literally or otherwise.

Other suggestions...Psalm 8 has an interesting ring if one
substitutes "what is woman that thou art mindful of her" in v.4. Or begin
the Lucan passage at v. 39, rather than v. 44 to tie in the contrast to
Elizabeth - and quote Wordsworth on leaping as rejoicing: "my heart leaps
up when I behold / a rainbow in the sky / so was it when my life began / so
is it now I am a man / so be it when i shall grow old / or let me die.


Craddock, F., Hayes, J., Holladay, C., Tucker, G. PREACHING THE NEW
Abingdon Press, 1985.

BIBLE. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1981.

THEOLOGY. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1983.

Schüssler-Fiorenza, Elizabeth. BREAD NOT STONE: THE CHALLENGE OF

5. MUSIC SUGGESTIONS (see above also)

Most important for this day of worship are hymns and selections of praise and joy. Since the date is the middle of summer, it might be
refreshing to use music more often identified with Advent, and would
offset the change in emphasis in the text for the day.

If the soloist isn't vacationing , REJOICE GREATLY from Handel's MESSIAH would fit beautifully, as would Bach's JESU, JOY OF MAN'S REJOICING(cf. ELW 501 and HB 336) , using OUR for MAN'S, to catch the congregation's attention!

THE GOD OF ABRAHAM PRAISE (LBW 544, HB 401) ties in nicely with the reference to the Old Testament stories, while bringing to our attention the central theme of praise.

Exegete: Emily Chandler, RN, DMin., PhD. (Claremont) , CS, is Professor of Spirituality Research and Mental Health at the MGH Institute of Health Professions, Boston.

+ PENTECOST TWELVE + Luke 12:49-56 +

Lexegete™ | Year C | St. Luke


Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

August 15, 2010 (Lectionary 20)

Complementary Series

Jeremiah 23:23-29
Psalm 82 (8)
Hebrews 11:29–12:2
Luke 12:49-56

Semicontinuous Series

Isaiah 5:1-7
Psalm 80:1-2, 8-18 (14, 15)
Hebrews 11:29–12:2
Luke 12:49-56

Prayer of the Day

O God, judge eternal, you love justice and hate oppression, and you call us to share your zeal for truth. Give us courage to take our stand with all victims of bloodshed and greed, and, following your servants and prophets, to look to the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia. My sheep | hear my voice.
I know them, and they | follow me. Alleluia. (John 10:27)

1a. CONTEXT: Luke 12:49-56

The author of this passage, as perhaps someone else has

noted elsewhere in this 'electronic commentary,' is

responsible for over 27 percent of the New Testament (Luke

& Acts)--more than the entire Pauline corpus. On this

basis alone, this ancient theological historian's (or

historical theologian's) voice deserves to be heard.

To oversimplify somewhat, the first half of the work that

bear's the author's name (the whole work is most often

rather functionally referred to as Luke/Acts) centers

around its "hero", Jesus, his life and ministry, and his

progression to the site of his passion: Jerusalem--the

city and center of Judaism that rejected Jesus and his

message. In this gospel, the Kingdom of God is

proclaimed--first in Galilee, then in Judea--and seeds

planted for the community that will continue what Jesus

began. In a brief exegetical survey of Luke-Acts, Dennis

Duling entitles volume one of this two part work, "The

Ministry of the Spirit Through Jesus" (THE NEW TESTAMENT:

An Introduction. Perrin/Duling, 1982.)

This text comes from that large body of material that is

generally known as the "Journey to Jerusalem"

(9:51-19:27). Except for 18:15-19:27, the material is

wholly non-Markan and combines the Q and L sources. Such a

significant departure from the order of Mark's gospel is a

clear indication that here are to be found those concerns

both peculiar and important to Luke. This section

represents over half of Luke's gospel and contains many of

the themes that are central to his theology, including:

the delay of the parousia, the mission to the gentiles,

special concern for outcasts, the poor and women,

discipleship and the Kingdom of God. This section is

primarily theological in content and contains most of the

best-known Lucan parables.

To narrow the focus somewhat, the passage under

consideration is couched in a smaller body of material

encompassing the twelfth chapter which deals with

teachings and warnings to the disciples (probably not

limited to just the twelve). Luke has arranged a number of

loosely connected sayings of Jesus into a set of

exhortative teachings aimed at the Jewish Hellenistic

Christians of his day. Jesus' words to his followers takes

on a severity of tone that we usually expect to be

reserved for the "scribes and pharisees".

Today's lection from Luke contains: a sudden outpouring of

Jesus' personal feelings regarding his passion and the

delay of the parousia, his stern assessment of the effect

of Christianity on typical familial relations, as well as

a lambasting of his followers for their blindness to the

"signs of the times". These are orginally unrelated

sayings of Jesus that Luke appears to have strung together

based on their common note of conflict.

The other lections for the day include: a typical jeremiad

from its namesake, a Psalm of lamentation, and familiar

words of comfort and encouragement from Hebrews 12 (I feel

the relationship of the texts to each other is important -

I work from the New Common Lectionary). All of the

lections leave the basic impression that to be a person of

faith means to encounter substantial opposition and

personal difficulties (the first three being expressions

of that inevitable difficulty, and Hebrews being words of

encouragement for those encountering such difficulty). As

is often the case during these ("dog") days of Pentecost,

this gospel is part of a semi-continuous series of

readings in Luke over twenty-four consecutive Sundays

(Propers 4-28).

1b. TEXT: Luke 12:49-56


Not Peace, but Division

49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! 51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Interpreting the Time

54 He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

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


49Πῦρ ἦλθον βαλεῖν π τὴν γῆν, καὶ τί θέλω εἰ ἤδη ἀνήφθη. 50βάπτισμα δὲ ἔχω βαπτισθῆναι, καὶ πῶς συνέχομαι ἕως ὅτου τελεσθῇ. 51δοκεῖτε ὅτι εἰρήνην παρεγενόμην δοῦναι ἐν τῇ γῇ; οὐχί, λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀλλ' διαμερισμόν. 52ἔσονται γὰρ π τοῦ νῦν πέντε ἐν ἑνὶ οἴκῳ διαμεμερισμένοι, τρεῖς π δυσὶν καὶ δύο π τρισίν, 53διαμερισθήσονται πατὴρ π υἱῷ καὶ υἱὸς π πατρί, μήτηρ π τὴν θυγατέρα καὶ θυγάτηρ π τὴν μητέρα, πενθερὰ π τὴν νύμφην αὐτῆς καὶ νύμφη π τὴν πενθεράν. 54Ἔλεγεν δὲ καὶ τοῖς ὄχλοις, Οταν ἴδητε [τὴν] νεφέλην ἀνατέλλουσαν π δυσμῶν, εὐθέως λέγετε ὅτι Ὄμβρος ἔρχεται, καὶ γίνεται οὕτως: 55καὶ ὅταν νότον πνέοντα, λέγετε ὅτι Καύσων ἔσται, καὶ γίνεται. 56ποκριταί, τὸ πρόσωπον τῆς γῆς καὶ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ οἴδατε δοκιμάζειν, τὸν καιρὸν δὲ τοῦτον πῶς οὐκ οἴδατε δοκιμάζειν;

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 12:49-56

"Attention is focused on Jerusalem as the goal, so that

the cross, resurrection, and ascension are anticipated.

The section is almost entirely didactic and polemical . .

. The fact that the section portrays Jesus as on his way

to his suffering and death indicates also that Jesus is

equipping his disciples for carrying on his work after his

death and resurrection." (Arland Hultgren - Interpreting

the Gospel, James L. Mays, ed.)

Within this unit of scripture are four discernible

sayings: vs. 49, vs. 50, vss. 51-53, and vss. 54-56. There

is no unanimity among translators as to how to group this

set of verses. Placing together vss. 49-56 is as tenable

as any other suggested grouping.

Luke 12:49 - It is conceivable that Matthew and Luke draw

on the same source, as they both utilize the same (rare?)

variant of ballo [to send, cast, pour or throw] in what

are nearly parallel sayings. (MT 10:34) The image of

"cast[ing] fire upon the earth" is reminiscent of the

terrible "day of the Lord" that so predominates the

thoughts of the minor prophets (Day of Judgement/the Lord

- Joel 2:3-5, Nahum 1:5-6, Zephaniah 1:18 Refiner's Fire

- Zechariah 13:9, Malachi 3:2).

" . . . would that it were already kindled" suggests to

some scholars that it is already assumed (in Jesus' mind

or Luke's community?) that the parousia has been delayed,

the subject of which was treated in last week's lection.

vs. 50 This, again, has no direct parallels. In Mark

10:38-39, however, Jesus uses baptisma/baptizo as an

allusion to his passion, as Luke does here. When Jesus set

his face toward Jerusalem (9:51), he was well aware just

how personally demanding his ministry was to be. The

constraint he feels "presses" Jesus down in this very real


vss. 49, 50 In these two verses, Jesus echoes the

strident apocalyptic themes and tones that characterized

John the Baptist's preaching in Luke chapter 3. Possibly

this is connected to 3:16's reference to being baptized

with "the Holy Spirit and with fire". Perhaps this is an

indication of the extent to which Jesus' preaching, like

John's before him, was shaped by Jewish apocalypticism,

which was an integral part of their immediate religious


vss. 51-53 This illustrates the crisis and disruption

that Christ and God's Kingdom bring into the world and its

relationships. As we will see in the last section (vss.

54-56), the lack of peace is in no small part owing to the

stubborn refusal of the people to heed what should be

obvious (hence Jesus' lament in 19:42). Vs. 53 is drawn

from Micah's words of judgment (7:6) that Matthew has also


vss. 54-56 While 49-53 are spoken to the disciples,

these words are spoken to the multitudes. This basic

saying is shared with MT 16:2,3.

Except for the basic tone of Jesus' words to his

followers, this passage shares no obvious connection with

the previous passage. The word dokimazo is most often

translated discern (KJV) or interpret (RSV, et al).

However, the word commonly means "to prove or try", as in

a legal sense (hence, the connection with the following

verses (57-59) which were not included in today's


Kairos is what Luke chooses to indicate "time". As is so

often true in the NT, this connotes the sense of fulness,

pregnancy, opportunity and expectancy that chronos does


3. STRATEGY:Luke 12:49-56

At first blush, this lection, coming in the heat of the

summer as it does, seems to offer very slender homiletical

pickings (Which makes this writer think: Just as, in the

Kaopectate ad, people at the bustop huddled under their

umbrellas in a downpour don't want to hear about diarrhea,

neither is it likely that brow-mopping parishioners will

want to hear that Jesus came to bring fire down upon the

earth--though they may be inclined to believe it if told).

Part of the difficulty in shaping a message from this

lection lies in determining Luke's audience for these

stern words. It seems likely that Jesus originally spoke

these words (some or all?) to his followers who 1) sensed

that they were living on the edge of the culmination of

time (parousia), and 2) were commissioned by Jesus

(10:1ff.) to live the lives of itinerant preachers

("wandering Christian charismatics" - Theissen) of the

Kingdom of God--a difficult and often unrewarding

vocation. Luke appears to have recast Jesus' exhortations

into challenging words to the Christians of his day.

Luke's fellow Christians saw themselves living in the last

days and therefore might find comfort in knowing their

Lord had predicted turbulent times for people of faith,

and had lived through and died at the hands of that

turbulence himself. Certainly, following the destruction

of the temple, it would be virtually impossible for

Hellenistic Jewish families to maintain unity were part of

the family to become loyal to Christ, rejecting the old


The preacher will want to be very careful how these

exhortations are transformed into "homiletical gems". As

mentioned above, the themes of fire, unrest, familial

division, and inability to read the times may touch raw

nerves in the hearers. Clearly Christianity is not always

a blessing or at least perceived as a blessing. People in

every age who have attempted to live out their

understanding of radical discipleship have awakened

unbelievable hostilities. Individual families aplenty have

known the division that can occur when one or more of

their members "get religion". Denominational families who

struggle to be faithful to Christ's spirit in the sticky

social areas of abortion, ecumenism, homosexuality,

nuclear armaments, Central America, ad nauseum, will at

times concur that Jesus came to bring division. Every

generation has experienced the shaking up of old loyalties

that the "sword" of Christ can effect. This writer's hunch

is that this was a popular lection from which to preach

during the Civil War.

In our more cynical and "prophetic" moments, it would be

every preacher's temptation to point out to the

church-folk and the world their attention to things absurd

and their utter blindness: to things of importance, to the

crying needs of our world, to deeper spiritual realities,

to the multitude of ways that they help create the

spiritual wasteland that troubles so many. The time that

is so filled with the potentiality of God's Kingdom is

passed by because all we knew to talk about was the

weather. At the very least it would not hurt any of us to

be reminded that Christ calls us to continually pull the

scales/callouses from our eyes and hearts--that in an age

of spiritual and moral torpor we need to find ways to be

resensitized to the complexion, complexities and needs of

our world. If your preaching of the "Good News" tends to

be a bit privatized and one-sided at times, this could

serve as a helpful corrective.

Finally, at the beginning of his bestselling book The Road

Less Traveled, Scott Peck observed that, "Life is

difficult." Regarding the life of faith, this writer

believes Jesus would concur. Regarding the homiletical

adventure this lection engages one in, this writer



All are Welcome (ELW 641)

God of Grace and God of Glory (ELW 705)

Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory (ELW 890)

Be Thou My Vision (ELW 793)

Once to Every Man and Nation (various)

Lead On, O King Eternal (ELW 805)

Exegete: The Rev. Dr. Gregory H. Ledbetter is Pastor of Shell Ridge Community Church, Walnut Creek, CA: