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Monday, January 24, 2011

+ Epiphany + F O U R + 2011

Lexegete™ | Year A | Matthew


Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

January 30, 2011 (Lectionary 4)

Micah 6:1-8
Psalm 15 (1)
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Matthew 5:1-12

Prayer of the Day
Holy God, you confound the world's wisdom in giving your
kingdom to the lowly and the pure in heart. Give us such
a hunger and thrst for justice, and perseverance in striving
for peace, that in our words and deeds the world may see
the life of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia. Rejoice and be glad, 
 for your reward in great in heaven. Alleluia. (Matt. 5:12)

1a. CONTEXT: Matthew 5:1-12

The occasion for the sermon (einleitung) is mentioned in Mark
3:7-13a, Lk. 6:17-20a, and Mt. 4:24-5:2. John is silent on the
subject. This is the time of Jesus' growing popularity, after many
blessings in the form of healings and forgiveness offered to the
common people. Now Jesus moves away from the crowd, and goes up on the mountain.

Mark does not record the Beatitudes themselves. Luke's account of them appears to be earlier than Matthew's, which is elaborated.
The sitz im leben is generally understood to be the
teaching (catechesis) of the early church on what is required of the
disciples by Jesus, in order to enter the now and future kingdom of
God ("heaven" is often subsituted by Matthew for "God," in keeping
with the piety of the time though unlike the other evangelists).

Our port of entry into the text is the hermeneutic for
proclamation of liberty to the oppressed, since God has a
preferential option for the poor, throughout both the OT and the NT.
A recent vote by scholars indicates that only three out of a dozen
"fortunate" and "unfortunate" sayings can safely be said to have come
from the mouth of Jesus himself. These include "Fortunate are you
poor" ("Blessed are the poor in spirit": AILL), "those who hunger"
(AILL), and "those who mourn" (AILL). We begin with Jesus' radical
manifestation of the Spirit, his solidarity with the poverty-
stricken, the malnourished and those who mourn because of poltical
domination. We end with his turning of the world's priorities
completely around by these sayings.

The hearers are the disciples themselves, generally understood
to be the twelve--the ordinary folks he chose to teach in order for
them to then help him activate the reign of God on earth. They have
come away with him from the crowds for this private lesson. This is
typical procedure for a prophet and apprentices. The word disciple
connotes much more than passive pupil--it connotes strong adherence
to the life-style of the teacher. It connotes the forming of a "base
community" that will change the status quo.

Like many Christians, I have stood on the hilltop overlooking
the Sea of Galilee next to the beautiful church built, incongruously
enough, by Mussolini in the 1930's. There are lush trees surrounding
the porticoes of the church itself, and there is "much grass in the
place." As I stood there, transfixed by the turquoise jewel that is
the sea far below, and looked to the west toward the rift in the
hills that marks the passageway to Nazareth, I was struck
by the incredibly revolutionary content of Jesus' sayings. Surely
this was the first time in history that anyone had ever made such
promises to the poor, the hungry, and those who cry out to be
delivered from subjugation to the kings and kingdoms of this world.

I could see him taking all this earthly beauty in with the sweep of
his arm, and easily hear him saying that it is those who follow his
course of action who will inherit all this--starting here and now!

1b. TEXT: Matthew 5:1-12


The Sermon on the Mount
5:1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
The Beatitudes
2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons [1] of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
[1] 5:9 Greek huioi
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


1Ἰδὼν δὲ τοὺς ὄχλους ἀνέβη εἰς τὸ ὄρος: καὶ καθίσαντος αὐτοῦ προσῆλθαν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ:
2καὶ ἀνοίξας τὸ στόμα αὐτοῦ ἐδίδασκεν αὐτοὺς λέγων,
3Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι, ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν. 4μακάριοι οἱ πενθοῦντες, ὅτι αὐτοὶ παρακληθήσονται.
5μακάριοι οἱ πραεῖς, ὅτι αὐτοὶ κληρονομήσουσιν τὴν γῆν.
6μακάριοι οἱ πεινῶντες καὶ διψῶντες τὴν δικαιοσύνην, ὅτι αὐτοὶ χορτασθήσονται.
7μακάριοι οἱ ἐλεήμονες, ὅτι αὐτοὶ ἐλεηθήσονται.
8μακάριοι οἱ καθαροὶ τῇ καρδίᾳ, ὅτι αὐτοὶ τὸν θεὸν ὄψονται.
9μακάριοι οἱ εἰρηνοποιοί, ὅτι αὐτοὶ υἱοὶ θεοῦ κληθήσονται.
10μακάριοι οἱ δεδιωγμένοι ἕνεκεν δικαιοσύνης, ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.
11μακάριοί ἐστε ὅταν ὀνειδίσωσιν ὑμᾶς καὶ διώξωσιν καὶ εἴπωσιν πᾶν πονηρὸν καθ' ὑμῶν [ψευδόμενοι] ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ:
12χαίρετε καὶ ἀγαλλιᾶσθε, ὅτι ὁ μισθὸς ὑμῶν πολὺς ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς: οὕτως γὰρ ἐδίωξαν τοὺς προφήτας τοὺς πρὸ ὑμῶν.

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

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

2. ANALYSIS: Matthew 5:1-12

Mt. 5:1 - Idon de tous ochlous anebe eis to oros kai kathisantos
autou proselthan auto oi mathetai autou - "Seeing the crowds, Jesus
went up on the mountain and sat down; and the disciples came to him"

(AILL) - The Great Teaching is not a public event. In Matthew it
represents a collection of sayings addressed to the inner circle of
the disciples. According to the Greek-English Lexicon of the New
Testament (p. 486), the word disciple connotes the following:
learner, pupil, apprentice, adherent, a learner who constantly
practices that which he or she learns. Thus Jesus "makes disciples,"
and entrusts to them the proclamation of the kingdom.

5:3 - makarioi - "Fortunate" in Greek was used in classical times to
describe the state of the gods in contrast to humans. The familiar
English "blessed" has come to have more and more liturgical or
ecclesiastical overtone, and so "fortunate'" or "happy" may be better
translations than the time-encrusted "blessed" (AILL). The best
translation, according to Bauer,Arndt and Gingrich is probably one
without religious coloring. It is also used elsewhere with a
religious connotation, in reference to certain biblical persons:
Moses, Judith and Paul, and it is used in conjunction with the
"blessed martyrs."

- ptochoi to pneumati - Perhaps the original editor felt that the
Greek "poor" alone would be misunderstood if left without
qualification, and so added "in spirit." The collection of sayings
may fittingly be called the spiritual charter of the kingdom. The
form that the individual vv. take is well known in the Psalms,
Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.- Basileia ton ouranon - This statement
concludes one group of sayings, for the phrase "theirs is the realm
of heaven"(AILL) began the series and now ends it. This device
(inclusio) is common in Matthew. "Heaven" was a usual Jewish
synonym for "God," to save the devout from using even the word
Adonai, "(my) Lord."

5:12 en tois ouranois - It is important not to read into this phrase
the idea of "going into heaven," but rather it should be understood
as being "with God," here and now. Jesus is teaching the disciples
that they must carry the Gospel proclamation, which is this message
of Freedom. The long-expected reign of God is dawning with the
presence of Jesus, and the law therefore has a new dimension and a
new urgency.

3. STRATEGY: Matthew 5:1-12

"Thinking from the other end of history," is the strategy
suggested by Dr. Letty Russell in her book, Growth in Partnership (p.
94ff., 128-9).It is the key for those who want to open their lives to
the calling of God's Spirit. To free ourselves to be open to God's
promise we also need to be able to speak clearly in hope statements
that seek to contradict present reality in the light of the future.
The life-style of Jesus of Nazareth teaches us how to live and think
"from the other end." Because of his vision of God's jubilee of
liberation, he was able to identify in the present with all the
marginal people in society, and to include them in all the actions of
his life. Jesus lived his faith compassionately and creatively.

Fertile ground for sermon development lies in looking to Jesus'
great teaching to his disciples. Our people can best learn growth in
solidarity with the oppressed from people who are only one step more
developed in their own ability to think in this way. Therefore it is
often those of us whose thinking is only slightly more prophetic,
who are able to convey a new style of thinking/acting/being/doing
in the world. Acting for social change is essential to any change in
our understanding of structures of oppression as members of a
dominant group. For example, even though he was a male, Jesus was
able to identify with women, and treat them as the whole persons
God intends them to be. Make no mistake about it--the sermon on the
mount is revolutionary, in content and purpose. Jesus' faith was
also critical for the message.

4. REFERENCES: Matthew 5:1-12

Albright, W.F. and C.S. Mann. Matthew. The Anchor Bible.NY:
Doubleday, 1971.

Bauer,W., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, ed. W.F.
Arndt and F.E. Gingrich (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago, 1957).

Bird, Phyllis A. The Bible as the Church's Book. Philadelphia:
Westminster Press, 1982.

Russell, Letty M. Growth in Partnership. Philadelphia: Westminster
Press, 1981.

Schüssler-Fiorenza, Elisabeth. Bread Not Stone. Boston: Beacon

5. MUSIC SUGGESTIONS: Matthew 5:1-12

Entrance: GOD OF GRACE AND GOD OF GLORY (HB 594/5,LBW 415);

Hymn of the Day: REMEMBER YOUR SERVANTS, LORD (Mt. 5:3-12 from
the Russian Orthodox Liturgy), HB 560);


Hymns for the Eucharist:

Recessional: SON OF GOD, ETERNAL SAVIOR (LBW 364),

Gathering: Rise Up, O saints of God! (ELW 669, LBW 383)
The Day: We are Called (ELW 720) OR O God of Mercy (ELW 714, LBW 425)
Offertory: Come to the Table – 481
Communion: Thee We Adore (ELW 476, LBW 199)
Sending: Thine the Amen (ELW 826)
OR Let All Things Now Living (ELW 881, LBW 557)

Exegete: Rev. Dr. Carol M. Worthing (ELCA, RT)


Lexegete™ © 2011

Tischrede Software

Dartmouth, MA 02747-1925


Monday, January 17, 2011

+ Epiphany + THREE + 2011

Lexegete™ | Year A | Matthew

Third Sunday after Epiphany

January 23, 2011 (Lectionary 3)

Isaiah 9:1-4
Psalm 27:1, 4-9 (1)
1 Corinthians 1:10-18
Matthew 4:12-23

Prayer of the Day

Lord God, your lovingkindness always goes before us and follows after us. Summon us into your light, and direct our steps in the ways of goodness that come through the cross of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia. Jesus preached the good news | of the kingdom
and cured every sickness a-| mong the people. Alleluia. (Matt. 4:23)

1a. CONTEXT: Matthew 4:12-23

This Sunday is rather blah, stuck as it is between the festivity of Christmas and solemnity of Lent. The color is green, which alerts us to life and growth, though our eyes are accustomed to the drabness of January. Our attention is focused on congregational meetings, perhaps (belated) recognition of Martin Luther King,Jr., the imminent Superbowl Sunday (and related good causes) , and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, each of which comes around this time of year and is more or less important in the lives of individuals, congregations and communities. This Third Sunday after the Epiphany is preceded by Matthew's account of the Baptism of Our Lord (3:13-17) and John's proclamation of Jesus as the "Lamb of God," as well as Andrew's faith statement to and recruitment of his brother Peter (John 1:29-41). The Sermon on the Mount material forms the basis for the remaining Sundays of Epiphany.

Generally the emphasis has been on Jesus' calling to follow, and consequently has given rise to an evangelism emphasis, as if we who follow 2000 years later could do what Christ did, or respond as the fishermen did.

Matthew 4:12-23 serves to launch Jesus into his public ministry, and to summarize his proclamation--"Repent, for the realm of heaven is at hand" (AILL). Matthew duplicates all of Mark 1:14-20 and adds Isaiah 9:1-2, thereby implying is fulfillment, which would be meaningful and significant for Matthew's Jewish audience. Matthew's sensitivity causes him to use "basileia ton ouranon" 34 times, though this phrase is not found in the other Gospels. Frederick Buechner (Wishful Thinking, p. 79) says that "to repent is to come to your senses. It is not so much something you do as something that happens. True repentance spends less time looking at the past and saying 'I'm sorry,' than to the future and saying 'Wow!'" According to Gunther Bornkamm (Jesus of Nazareth, p. 82), Repentance is "to lay hold on the salvation which is already at hand, and to give up every- thing for it." Finally, Floyd Filson in A New Testament History (p. 94) says that the Kingdom is the theme of the synoptics. Jesus announces the Kingdom or Realm as a present reality and a future hope. The announcement is preceded by a summons to repent. The appeal is urgent, for this Realm comes not by the brilliance and action of God's people--rather by God's intervention in the person of Jesus.

1b. Text: Mt. 4:12-23


12akousaV de oti iwannhV paredoqh anecwrhsen eiV thn galilaian. 13kai katalipwn thn nazara elqwn katwkhsen eiV kafarnaoum thn paraqalassian en orioiV zaboulwn kai nefqalim: 14ina plhrwqh to rhqen dia hsaiou tou profhtou legontoV, 15gh zaboulwn kai gh nefqalim, odon qalasshV, peran tou iordanou, galilaia twn eqnwn, 16o laoV o kaqhmenoV en skotei fwV eiden mega, kai toiV kaqhmenoiV en cwra kai skia qanatou fwV aneteilen autoiV. 17apo tote hrxato o ihsouV khrussein kai legein, metanoeite, hggiken gar h basileia twn ouranwn. 18peripatwn de para thn qalassan thV galilaiaV eiden duo adelfouV, simwna ton legomenon petron kai andrean ton adelfon autou, ballontaV amfiblhstron eiV thn qalassan: hsan gar alieiV. 19kai legei autoiV, deute opisw mou, kai poihsw umaV alieiV anqrwpwn. 20oi de euqewV afenteV ta diktua hkolouqhsan autw. 21kai probaV ekeiqen eiden allouV duo adelfouV, iakwbon ton tou zebedaiou kai iwannhn ton adelfon autou, en tw ploiw meta zebedaiou tou patroV autwn katartizontaV ta diktua autwn: kai ekalesen autouV. 22oi de euqewV afenteV to ploion kai ton patera autwn hkolouqhsan autw. 23kai perihgen en olh th galilaia, didaskwn en taiV sunagwgaiV autwn kai khrusswn to euaggelion thV basileiaV kai qerapeuwn pasan noson kai pasan malakian en tw law.

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

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


Jesus Begins His Ministry

12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people dwelling in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
on them a light has dawned.”

17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Jesus Calls the First Disciples

18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Jesus Ministers to Great Crowds

23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.

ESV © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

2. ANALYSIS: Matthew 4:12-23

Mt. 4:15 - Galilia ton ethnon - Literally, "ring of foreigners," referring to the far reaches of the Northern Kingdom. Jesus withdrew to Galilee (compare Mark 1:14, "Jesus came into Galilee") because: 1)he was from there, and 2) many who were baptized by John were also from there; hence, the message of the Kingdom would find readier acceptance among those who were most dissatisfied with current political, economic, social and religious conditions (a region of shadow and death, 4:16).

4:17 - ho Iesous kerussein - "Jesus began to preach" (AILL) - Literally, Jesus began proclaiming or announcing. Fundamentally, kerussein is the declaration of an event and not "to preach" in the usual sense. In Jesus, what is proclaimed is a creative force; it gives what it declares. Its goal is faith, rather than understanding. Its companion is "teaching," but "teaching" is reserved for believers, usually in the synagogue. Proclaiming is for sinners, and occurs anywhere.

4:17 - metanoiete....he Basileia ton ouranon - Metanoiete is "to change one's mind" - In the OT, the concept is one of "return," or doing an about-face. It had for the prophets and Jesus three facets:

l) obedience to God's will; 2) trust in God alone; and 3) turning aside from everything ungodly. God grants con-version as both gift and task. Repentance is not law, but gospel -- it is God's gift which binds one to joyful tasks. - He Basileia ton ouranon is synonymous with "Kingdom of God" - The kingdom is different, miraculous, not a human product. Jesus does not promise political

glory to Israel, but salvation to the world. The actualization of God's rule is future, but this future determines the present. It is a gift set before us, and with another gift -- repentance -- we are but in touch with a realm which comes apart from us.

4:19 - deute opiso mou - "Follow me" (AILL) - Opiso has such meanings as - behind, after, later and again. This invitation is a binding one to the person of Jesus--it is not simply a following that is asked of

the disciples, but a total commitment to and entry into the kingdom.

It means self-denial, cross-bearing, and self-surrender. There is no

going back, and exclusive belonging to Christ is the reality for the

one who follows.

4:20 - aphentes - "They left" (their nets) (AILL) - This term is more

akin to "release, leave behind, to let go." It is used most often in

the NT as a word for forgiveness, something constantly needed and

granted when requested if there is a willingness to do the same for

others. Forgiveness is God's act, bringing total renewal, and is

received when God's judgment is affirmed by the confession of sins.

4:23 - didaskon en tais sunagogais - "teaching in their synagogues"

(AILL) - (see note above on kerussein,4:17) - Jesus uses the form of

a typical teacher and his material is traditional. But he aims to

order all life in relation to God and neighbor, appeals to the will,

and calls for decision for or against God. The teaching is not in

reference to intellect, but to the total will of the hearer, their

whole personhood. What raises the hostility of other teachers is the

absolute claim that Jesus alone is the fulfillment of the law

(greater than Moses) and the way (for others) to its fulfillment.

4:23 - kai therapeuon - "and healing" - Physical healing, in the

sense of the total healing of the whole person is implied. With

Jesus, God's realm has broken into our suffering world. The real

miracle of healing is not the breaking of natural law, but victory in

the conflict with hardship.

3. STRATEGY: Matthew 4:12-23

There is an intriguing change evident in this text. The message itself is a call to change - "Repent, for the realm of heaven is at hand."

There is a change in Jesus from passive to active. With John's voice silenced, Jesus begins to proclaim the same message (Mark

1:15). Passive, in the sense of "being acted upon," preparation is over. Now comes the change from passive to active--going, preaching, teaching and healing. This change might serve as a model for Christians: first a need to be acted upon by the power of God, and then empowered by that power.

There is an implicit change for those drawn by the message.

There is no need for them to come to hear the message of God's gifts

of the Kingdom or repentance. Now the message goes forth in the

person of Jesus--the message and the messenger.

There is a change in the four fishermen. Note the immediacy of their response in the "M and M" gospels. Are they akin to our contemporaries who experience restless dissatisfaction with life or self? Weight-watchers, AA, Stop Smoking seminars, psychiatry, psychotherapy, counseling and doctors' offices are full of those engaged in activity which they feel is destructive, unfulfilling or unrewarding. These are people whose change must be immediate. And what of those called to follow? Were they perhaps restless about themselves or life? The preacher should jump into one of these fishermen's boats: is this all there is?--4 a.m. risers, stinking fish, putting up with brothers and others, and old man Zebedee, the CEO? Were they people who wished to find meaning in their life but could not?

Jesus ignited their imagination and set them aflame for the possibility of more joyful, satisfying service, and they followed immediately! Do not discount the effect of cold, dark January days and nights in the northern climes on people in the pews. Perhaps they are looking for some CHANGE or newness in liturgy, order of worship, method and style of preaching. There are myriad ways to "change" the setting and situation (one pastor actually wheeled a small boat into the nave for a children's sermon on this text). Change is grace--dare to be creative!

4. REFERENCES: Matthew 4:12-23

Bornkamm, Gunther. Jesus of Nazareth. NY: Harper & Bros.,1960.

Buechner, Frederick, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC. New York: Harper and Row, 1973.

Filson, Floyd V. A New Testament History: Story of the Emerging Church. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1964.


If not previously used, JESUS CALLS US, O'ER THE TUMULT (HB 549,550;LBW 494) is the most obvious hymn choice for the day.

Also recommended are "COME,FOLLOW ME," THE SAVIOR SPAKE (LBW 455), HAIL TO THE LORD'S ANOINTED (HB 616,LBW 87), HAVE NO FEAR, LITTLE FLOCK (LBW 478) and REJOICE, YE PURE IN HEART (HB 556,557;LBW 553 alt.) is a good processional hymn. Also, if a "healing" theme is pursued, THINE ARM, O LORD, IN DAYS OF OLD (HB 567,LBW 431) is an ideal hymn for the day.


ELW Suggestions:

Gathering: Thy Strong Word (ELW 511, LBW 233)

The Day: O Christ, Our Light (ELW 675, LBW 380)

Offertory: Come to the Table – 481

Communion: Now We Join in Celebration (ELW 462, LBW 203 or 224)

Sending: Lift Every Voice and Sing (ELW 841, LBW 562)

Exegetes: R. Ervin Walther & Philip H. Scherr



Lexegete © 2011

Tischrede Software

Dartmouth, MA 02747


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

+ Epiphany + T W O + 2010

Lexegete™ | Year A Matthew


January 16, 2011

Isaiah 49:1-7

Psalm 40:1-11 (8)

1 Corinthians 1:1-9

John 1:29-42

1a. CONTEXT: John 1:29-42

This is the testimony of John which parallels Matthew 3 and

Luke 3, and follows the account of the baptism of Jesus (Mt. 3:13-17)

on Epiphany I. Here the emphasis is on John the Baptist's

recognition of Jesus as his successor, the one whom his preaching

anticipated. Unlike the synoptic accounts, the Fourth Gospel

underscores this public acclamation of Jesus, a confessional formula

which links Jesus to Jewish apocalyptic. John's focus is on his

coming to awareness of who Jesus is, associated with descent of the

Spirit. Thus the passage becomes an important development of the

meaning of Epiphany, defined by Marion Hatchett as a "manifestation"

or "appearance." In the fourth gospel John's role as baptizer and

foreteller is subsumed under his recognition of Jesus as the Christ.

For John, Jesus becomes the source of the Spirit. After its

descent, it authenticates his person and witness. In turn the Spirit

abides in the church's witness, because it is mediated through Jesus.

Ever elusive, the Spirit assures unity and purpose to the community.

John the Baptist's role is to see the Spirit's descent upon Jesus.

John can link who Jesus is and what Jesus does. In turn, John

becomes the paradigm for the believer and for the Church. He

perceives the transfer of the Spirit through Jesus to a new


However the new community, the Church, is not a total break

with the past. The calling of Simon and Andrew as Jesus' first

disciples occurs as a transfer. They are standing with John when

Jesus walks by. Again John acclaims Jesus as the eschatological

figure he has foretold. Andrew and Simon follow Jesus when they hear

John's identification of who Jesus is. The clear message is that

John's allegiance, including his following, has shifted to Jesus.

The theological implication is that John understands Jesus as the

legitimate heir to the Jewish apocalyptic expectation, as Israel's

fulfillment. John's contrast between a synagogue community and a new

community has encouraged scholars to believe that the fourth gospel

had a Christian group expelled from a synagogue as its backdrop. The

confessional formulae here argue that Jesus, in his person and in his

community, fulfill eschatological hope. Andrew's confession and

Jesus' designation of Simon as Cephas complete the creation of the

new reality.

1b. Text: John (NRSV)

Jn. 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, "Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Jn. 1:30 This is he of whom I said, `After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.'

Jn. 1:31 I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel."

Jn. 1:32 And John testified, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.

Jn. 1:33 I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, `He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.'

Jn. 1:34 And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God."

Jn. 1:35 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples,

Jn. 1:36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, "Look, here is the Lamb of God!"

Jn. 1:37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.

Jn. 1:38 When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher), "where are you staying?"

Jn. 1:39 He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon.

Jn. 1:40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.

Jn. 1:41 He first found his brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated Anointed).

Jn. 1:42 He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas" (which is translated Peter).

Greek (Symbol font):

nen, oti prwtoV mou hn. 31kagw ouk hdein auton, all ina fanerwqh tw israhl dia touto hlqon egw en udati baptizwn. 32kai emarturhsen iwannhV legwn oti teqeamai to pneuma katabainon wV peristeran ex ouranou, kai emeinen ep auton: 33kagw ouk hdein auton, all o pemyaV me baptizein en udati ekeinoV moi eipen, ef on an idhV to pneuma katabainon kai menon ep auton, outoV estin o baptizwn en pneumati agiw. 34kagw ewraka, kai memarturhka oti outoV estin o uioV tou qeou. 35th epaurion palin eisthkei o iwannhV kai ek twn maqhtwn autou duo, 36kai embleyaV tw ihsou peripatounti legei, ide o amnoV tou qeou. 37kai hkousan oi duo maqhtai autou lalountoV kai hkolouqhsan tw ihsou. 38strafeiV de o ihsouV kai qeasamenoV autouV akolouqountaV legei autoiV, ti zhteite; oi de eipan autw, rabbi {o legetai meqermhneuomenon didaskale}, pou meneiV; 39legei autoiV, ercesqe kai oyesqe. hlqan oun kai eidan pou menei, kai par autw emeinan thn hmeran ekeinhn: wra hn wV dekath. 40hn andreaV o adelfoV simwnoV petrou eiV ek twn duo twn akousantwn para iwannou kai akolouqhsantwn autw: 41euriskei outoV prwton ton adelfon ton idion simwna kai legei autw, eurhkamen ton messian {o estin meqermhneuomenon cristoV}: 42hgagen auton proV ton ihsoun. embleyaV autw o ihsouV eipen, su ei simwn o uioV iwannou: su klhqhsh khfaV {o ermhneuetai petroV}.

Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition

© 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;

The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition

© 1975, United Bible Societies, London

2. ANALYSIS: John 1:29-42

Jn. l:29,36 - Tei epaurion blepei ton Iesoun erkhomenon pros auton,

kai legei, ide ho amnos tou theou ho airon ten hamartian tou

kosmou....kai emblepsas toi Iesou perpatounti legei: ide ho amnos tou

theou - "John saw Jesus approaching, and said 'Behold, the Lamb of

God, who takes away the sin of the world!'...and he looked at Jesus

walking by, and said, 'Behold, the Lamb of God!' (AILL) - Early

Christian eucharistic imagery of Jesus as the Lamb is powerfully

expressed here. The innocence and purity of the ancient Israelite

sacrificial lamb and the lamb's role in restoring human relationship

to God were prominent features of the early Church's faith. The

image of the Lamb received impetus from the Jewish apocalyptic

tradition of the conquering lamb and the Essene tradition of the

Messiah who purifies the world of its sin. This image helped the

community to portray who Jesus was and what he did.

1:33 - k'ago ouk eidein auton, all' ho pempsas me baptizein en hudati

ekeinos moi eipen: eph' hon an ideis to pneuma katabainon kai menon

ep' auton, houtos estin ho baptizon en pneumati hagioi.... - "I

myself did not know who it was; but the one who sent me to baptize

with water said to me, 'The person on whom you see the Spirit descend

and remain, this is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.'..."

(AILL) - This verse parallesl a number of NT instances (Luke 3:22,

Mt. 3:16, Mk. 1:10, Acts 2:33, Acts 10:38) where the Spirit's descent

on Jesus revealed that he was holy. In John's Gospel, the Spirit's

descent has less to do with the performance of baptism than it does

with John the Baptist's recognition of who Jesus is.

l:34 - huios tou theou - Son of God ("Child of God" - AILL) is the

title of Jesus most characteristic of the Fourth Gospel. Jesus is

unique, beyond merely human origin (1:12-14). Jesus is sent to save

the world (3:16), and is equal with God (3:35f.). Jesus does not

need to testify to himself. The divine sonship becomes apparent to

those who are properly attentive. This emphasis on Jesus' identity

reaches its height in the Fourth Gospel.

3. STRATEGY: John 1:29-42

John's Gospel offers rich possibilities for an Epiphany homily.

Its emphasis upon Jesus' nature and identity lends itself to a rich

liturgical context. The passage is a treasure-trove of imagery of

the Eucharist and of the Church. It is appropriately confessional

without a triumphalist overtone. Rather it is an opportunity to

reflect upon the Church's dependence on its Lord, and the Church's

mystical oneness which has its source in the Spirit.

Themes of continuity and of change are a more subtle but

important aspect of this passage. John the Baptist presides over the

dissolution of his mission, realizing that the successor whom he

expected has arrived. Yet John the Baptist is not eclipsed. Instead

he is absorbed into a greater reality. The preacher might use John

as a believer's paradigm. He works not for his own glory, but for

the establishment of a cause that transcends any individual.

The passage also suggests an evangelism sermon. In the

twentieth century evangelism often stresses technique--what to do in

order to attract and to hold church members. Ultimately the care and

feeding of new members relies upon the recognition by all of Christ's

Lordship in the community. Faithfulness in ministry, more than any

technique, becomes the surest means of evangelism. When people are

acknowledged and seen for who they are, then Christ can be discerned

and worshipped. The passage could be used at an annual meeting, or

on a Sunday when ministry and evangelism are special foci.

4. REFERENCES: John 1:29-42

Brown, Raymond. The Gospel According to John. The Anchor Bible.

New York: Doubleday, 1966.

Hatchett, Marion J. Commentary on the American Prayer Book. New

York: Seabury, 1981.

Leon-Dufour, Xavier. Dictionary of the New Testament. San

Francisco: Harper and Row, 1980.

Smith, D. Moody. "The Presentation of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel,"

Interpretation, October, 1977.

5. MUSIC SUGGESTIONS: John 1:29-41


already used, is an excellent Epiphany hymn, as is CHRIST WHEN FOR US

YOU WERE BAPTIZED (HB 121). Alternatives would be AT THE NAME OF





(LBW 86).


Gathering: Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies (ELW 553, LBW 265)

The Day: The Only Son from Heaven (ELW 309, LBW 87)

Offertory: Come to the Table – 481

Communion: Jesus, Priceless Treasure (ELW 775, LBW 457/8)

Sending: We are Marching in the Light of God (ELW 866, WOV 650)


Exegete: William L. Sachs is the Assistant Rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Richmond, Virginia. Author of The Transformation of Anglicanism.


If evangelism is the sermon topic, an interesting book to read

is OF ONE BODY: Renewal Movements in the Church (Atlanta: John Knox

Press,1986) by this week's exegete, William L. Sachs and Joseph W.

Trigg, also a contributor to LEXEGETE. There is much tension today

between renewal movements and "mainline" Christianity. The thesis

of the book is that the church needs to learn from the phenomenal

growth of such movements, and can be strengthened by a healthy

dialogue between these two areas of faith and life in the Spirit.

This thought-provoking thesis is well-stated, as noted by Martin E.

Marty in his Foreword. It speaks to all who would tell Good News!

Since January 15 is the official observance of the Birthday of

the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this is a good time in the church

year to remember the life and ministry of Martin Luther

King,Jr. An "evangelist" in the best sense of the word, his powerful

book of sermons, Strength to Love (Phila.: Fortress Press,

1981), remains indispensable reading for such an observance. Sermons like

"Paul's letter to American Christians" reveal a keen homiletical

strategist whose communication style was intensely creative. His

epitaph lives on : "he tried to love somebody." He was not only a

"drum major for justice" but a prophet of non-violence in an age

and a land riddled with violence.




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