163: Easter 4C (April 17, 2016)


163: Easter 4C (April 17, 2016)

Voice in the Wilderness: Acts 9:36-43 The raising of Tabitha by Lee Saylor

Featured Musician - The Steel Wheels, “All Stripped Away” from their album Live at Goose Creek. Find more of their music at .

Episode 163 Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C - April 17, 2016)
Hello and welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 163 for Sunday, April 17, 2016. The fourth Sunday of Easter,  Year C.

Introduction and Check-in  

  • Brussels, Yemen, Ivory Coast and more awfulness
  • Baseball opening day. Cubs are going all the way this year. Robb has written a lot about baseball over the years. See all of his blogs tagged baseball here http://fatpastor.me/tag/baseball/

Voice in the Wilderness: Acts 9:36-43 The raising of Tabitha by Lee Saylor

Featured Musician - The Steel Wheels, “All Stripped Away” from their album Live at Goose Creek. Find more of their music at .

DONATE: www.pulpitfiction.us/donate

Gospel Reading: John 10:22-30 Jesus on Solomon’s Porch

Initial Thoughts

  • Why we don’t like John as much - no stories. Walter Brueggemann: “Let the text be the sermon illustration.”
  • Good Shepherd Sunday
  • Strange chopping of story

Bible Study

  • Literary Context

    • Comes right after the “I am the good shepherd” saying, but some time has passed. It is not intended to be a continuation of that passage.
    • Jesus is in Jerusalem for the Festival of Dedication is Hanukkah.

      • “Solomon’s Porch” is a public place on south end of The Temple (
      • Antiochus IV, a Greek Seleucid Emperor, installed a statue of Zeus in the Temple, sacrificed pigs, and banned circumcision.
      • After Macabeean Revolt, the Jews cleansed and rededicated the Temple. Hanukkah became an eight day festival of burning oil and celebration.
    • Response of the “Jewish Opposition” is to stone him, saying “You are human, but you make yourself out to be God”

      • Jesus with creative reading of Psalm 82
      • Calls out their hypocrisy, couched in a way that criticizes their Biblical literalism.
      • Still, they wanted to arrest him, but he escaped (no further explanation).
    • Next story: Jesus crosses the Jordan River again, preaches where John had been baptizing, then discovers that Lazarus is ill.
  • Question is posed “How long will you test our patience? Are you the Christ, tell us plainly?”

    • Immediately before this, John tells us that “there was division among the Jews.” Now we hear from ‘the opposition.’
    • Feels like an adversarial confrontation, but Common English does this a little. They add “opposition” to what other translations just refer to as “The Jews.” This is a good thing, in that it helps to alleviate some of the rabid anti Jewishness that is inherent in the Gospel of John. It is a problem however, in that it was just established that the Jews were divided. It is unclear if this question comes from the opposition or from those that are supportive, but maybe a little skeptical, and need to learn more
  • Jesus’ answer, “I’ve told you, but you don’t believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me””

    • Does he mean “I’ve told you that I am, but you don’t believe,” or “I’ve told you that the works I do in my Father's name testify about me, but you don’t believe me”
    • Either way, Jesus reminds them that his works are what matters. They should know whether or not he is the Messiah by what he’s been doing.

      • Reminiscent of his response to John’s followers in Luke 7 and Matthew 11.
      • They want to know “Are you the one,” and he tells them, “Go and tell him what I’ve been doing.”
    • “Jesus answer reminds us that an understanding of who he is cannot be simply a matter of deciding whether Jesus measures up to some preconceived notion of how a divine figure ought to act. Jesus eludes prior categories, totally redefines even those cherished titles drawn from Israel’s past… Jesus transcends and transforms them all.” (Charles Cousar, Texts for Preaching, Year C, p. 303. Emphasis added by Cousar).
    • “Knowledge of the Messiah has to do with a reorientation of the knower, a change of location from one community to another. (Cosar, p. 303)
  • What do Jesus works mean?

    • Is believing in Jesus simply an act of acknowledging his great works?
    • There must be more to his identity than doing cool tricks.
    • There has to be more to following Jesus than proper i.d.
    • “The works testify to Jesus not because they are extraordinary and attention-getting… and not because they offer conclusive proof of his Messiahship, but because they are the Father’s works.” (Cousar, p. 304)
    • The works only matter because of Jesus’ relationship with God. Jesus and God have a relationship so intimate that they cannot be separated. Therefore, Jesus works are seen simply as God’s works.
    • The proper i.d. For Jesus is a full change in identity. Acknowledging Jesus is itself a transformative act.
  • Dismissive of the questioner.

    • “You just don’t get it, and you never will.”
    • It is encouraging the community that they are, in fact, in the flock. But it can go deeper than that.
    • David Lose in Working Preacher:

      • “This time he explains that, in a sense, there is little point in more conversation because those who are part of Jesus’ flock will recognize and follow his voice, while those who are not will simply not believe. All of which raises a question: Is any of this fair? I mean, it almost sounds like all of this is determined ahead of time.”
      • “Then, as now, I was fascinated by why we behave as we do. One of the most interesting things I learned in my first psychology class was that while I tended to think that belief shapes behavior – that is, our actions follow our convictions – the truth turned out to be the exact opposite: more often than not, our behavior shapes our beliefs.”
      • “All of this helps me make sense of what Jesus is saying. Yes, those who believe in him are part of his flock and follow him. And, at the same time, those who are following him are more likely to believe in him and identify as part of his flock. We tend to separate out “believing” and “following,” but according both to Jesus and modern psychologists the two actually go together. Or, to put it another way, it’s really, really hard to be an armchair Christian. Only by getting out of our chairs – or, as the case may be, pews – and actually living the Christian life do we come to deeper faith and commitment.”

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • Cutting off the lection at 30 deprives the hearers of this story a chance to be challenged. Jesus quotes Scripture and rattles our clear understandings of godliness. Even though he says, “I and the Father are one,” he doesn’t go so far as to say that this is a totally unique relationship. He forces us to question what his messiahship looks like. Is Jesus Messiah because he turns water into wine? Why is he called Son of God? Why is Jesus unique? This exchange offers us a chance to really think about things like Jesus, divinity, humanity, messiah. In the end, Jesus reminds us that the question that matters is, How are we to be transformed by this relationship?

Psalm Nugget: Psalm 23 with Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist)

  • v1 The Lord is my shepherd…

    • name for kings, a title for YHWH
    • Political
  • … I shall not want.

    • Invites a question of us: in what sense do we “not want?”
    • Revs: how is this disruptive in an entitlement culture
    • Tension in a world where a great many seem to be in want. Brueggemann- world as it is, as it could/should be?
    • A life of trust
  • v2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;

    • not necessarily comfort (McCann)
    • forest of Hereth? (I Sam. 22:5)
  • v3 he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.

  • v4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me.

  • v5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…

    • eating with Jawas and Sandpeople
    • Robot Chicken - lunch with Darth Vadar in the City of Clouds
  • …you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

    • about oil
    • “I shall not want” theme again
  • v6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…

    • Hesed!
    • Radaf! YHWH as badass stalker and other uncomfortable metaphors
    • Have you ever wanted to get away from God? Tevye in Fiddler, Psalm 39
    • Stuck with covenant God: Ps 139, John 10, I John 3
  • …and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

    • connotations of tabernacle, temple, clan, family

Second Reading: Revelation 7:9-17 For All the Saints
Initial Thoughts

  • Revelation and the End of All Things by Craig Koester
  • All Saints Day reading
  • What about chapter 6?! Chapter 6 is chapter of the 7 seals

    • Seals 1-4 are the four horsemen
    • Seal 5- the multitude of the martyrs dressed in white
    • Seal 6- earthquake, sun turns black and moon like blood and the stars fell to the earth
    • V.17 - who can stand? No one can be saved

Bible Study

  • Leads into chapter 7 - “Salvation belongs to God!”

    • A New Seal - the  seal of the living God holding back the four winds of destruction
    • Chapter Seven can only be understood in light of chapter 6 and 7:1-4
  • The 144000

    • Interpreted by Jehovah’s witnesses to be the faithful who must be converted in order to prepare for the end time
    • Pre-millenial Dispensationalists believe the 144000 must be composed of 12000 of each of the 12 tribes

      • Anti-semitic to demand the conversation of these Jews
      • It never actually says they convert, but rather that 12000 will be taken from each tribe
    • Perhaps this is a recognition of the place of Jews within God’s plan of salvation - a direct contradiction of more conservative interpretations

      • 12000 from each of the 12 tribes is not necessarily an exact accounting but rather a symbol of completeness that all of the 12 tribes will be redeemed
  • So is it 144000 or a great multitude? YES

    • The grace of God is offered to the all the Jews (144000) and all the Gentiles (a great multitude)
  • Who are the ones in White?

    • Those who have accepted the saving grace of God
    • The ones who have suffered (6:9-11)- and yet have remained faithful throughout their suffering

      • Those who cry out in lament also sing praises to God (cf. Ps. 22)
    • Those who worship God continually
    • Those who are spared the trials and wrath of God
    • NOT spared from suffering though- just spared from suffering at the hands of God

      • Rev. 11:7; 12:11; 13:7-10
  • Echo of prophetic salvation

    • 7:15 and Ezekiel 37:27 - “My dwelling will be with them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
    • 7:16-17 and Isaiah 49:10 - “They won't hunger or thirst; the burning heat and sun won't strike them, because one who has compassion for them will lead them and will guide them by springs of water.”
    • 7:17 and Isaiah 25:8 - “He will swallow up death forever. The LORD God will wipe tears from every face; he will remove his people's disgrace from off the whole earth, for the LORD has spoken.”
  • So what?

    • Chapter 5 - Lamb power over Lion power
    • Chapter 6 - Everything you have placed your confidence and trust in: nations, wealth, food, health will fall away and lead you into destruction
    • Chapter 7 - Those who place their confidence in God and accept God’s offer of loving grace and salvation will be saved/redeemed

Sermon Thoughts and Questions

  • Where do we place our trust, our energy, our time and resources? Health, Wealth, Gluttony (in various forms) What would happen if that same amount of energy were spent loving God, neighbor and self?

    • Trust in God
  • What is the purpose of hope for the sake of hope? What can hope inspire us to do or to refrain from doing?

    • On Sunday morning the “saints” gather for worship and some have “been through the ringer”, they have lamented, are now asked to sing God songs of praise, only to go back into a broken world of suffering (like the Saints in this passage) how do we reconcile this juxtaposition
    • It is the Lamb- who died at the hands of human sinfulness and suffering who will now Shepherd the faithful through their own journeys of faith in the world.
    • Erik Heen - “It is this very same victim of human sinfulness who, in an odd reversal, has become the Shepherd who leads the faithful through their own encounters with evil.” Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary - Feasting on the Word – Year C, Volume 2: Lent through Eastertide.
  • Marvin Ellison, Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary - Feasting on the Word – Year A, Volume 4: Season After Pentecost 2 (Propers 17-Reign of Christ) -  Excellent list of 7 preaching points- here are two:

    • “How might the reality of suffering, even martyrdom, be recognized as the lived experience of many in a broken, unjust world, but without slipping into a glorification of suffering? Battered women, for example, need a theological response to imposed suffering that calls for resistance and change, not merely for endurance and patience.”
    • “Are saints "churchy" persons who are strictly observant religiously, or are they those who take responsibility for the world and actively resist evil and injustice, as Jesus did?”

Tasty Wafer of the Week:

Thank you listeners

Featured Musician - The Steel Wheels, “All Stripped Away” from their album Live at Goose Creek. Find more of their music at .

Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”, "Real Ride" and “Summertime”) and The Steel Wheels for our transition music(“Nola’s First Dance” from their album Lay Down, Lay Low) and Paul and Storm for our closing music (“Oh No”).