83: P22A (Oct. 5) Fiftee-Ten Commandments!


For Sunday October 5, Proper 22A/Ordinary 27A/17 Sundays after Pentecost. 

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SHOW NOTES -  10/5/2014
Episode 83: P22A (Oct. 5) Fiftee-Ten Commandments!
For Sunday, October 5, 2014
Image by Pascal

Welcome the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, where two local pastors discuss the  lectionary reading for the week. This is episode 82 for Sunday October 5, Proper 22A/Ordinary 27A/17 Sundays after Pentecost.

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Introduction and Check-in

  • World Communion Sunday

Featured Musician - Red Molly, “Foreign Lander” from their album James. Find more of their great music at redmolly.com. Find them on Facebook, Twitter @redmollyband, and YouTube

Primary Scripture - Matthew 21:33-46 The Parable of the Landowner’s servants
Initial Thoughts

  • Historic source for anti-Semitic violence.
  • “For three Sundays the Gospel lessons direct us to consecutive parables in Matthew’s narrative that seem pointedly aimed at the Jewish rejection of the Messiah and the movement of the Christian message to a non-Jewish world.  And yet, with all three parables, a careful reading of the texts reveals a broader concern and a wider audience than merely the case for a Gentile mission.” (Charles Cousar, Texts for Preaching, Leactionary Year A, p. 513)

Bible Study

  • Literary Context
    • Continuation of a story that the lectionary doesn’t tell very well.
    • This passage is a part of the temple controversies that started on Palm Sunday after Jesus enters the temple, turns over tables, and heals the blind and the lame.
    • Question was asked “By whose authority do you do these things?”
    • This passage is the second part of his answer.
    • The parable of the king and the wedding party (Matthew 22:1-14) is the third parable he tells - all in response to “Whose authority?”
  • Classic reading of the parable
    • Landowner planted a vineyard = God
    • Rented it out to tenant farmers = Chief Priests and Elders
      • He is still answering the question the Chief Priests and Elders, not addressing the crowds or ‘everyday’ Jews.
      • Dangerous to relegate Israel=Tenant farmers
      • Israel is the vineyard (Isaiah 5).  The farmers should be understood as the leaders;
      • The vineyard of Israel continues to bear fruit
    • Servants sent to the vineyard = Prophets
      • Again, they are looking for accountability with the leaders, not the people.
      • The mistreating, beating, and killing of the servants = the treatment that was given to the prophets.
    • Son = Jesus
      • He is killed as well.
      • Jesus has already made his prediction in Matthew about his own death and resurrection.
    • The Vineyard = Israel (as found in Isaiah 5)
    • Easy Reading of the parable = the Jewish leaders were the evil tenants, and the fruit of the harvest must be taken from them, and given to ‘other tenants.’ Namely, the Church.
      • In this reading, we can comfortably and easily put ourselves in the role of ‘other tenants,’ enjoying the fruit of the harvest.
    • Even in traditional reading, the judgment is not proclaimed by Jesus.  
      • The owner of the vineyard never renders this harsh punishment.  It is only assumed by the chief priests and elders that this is the only suitable punishment.
      • If they are to be understood as those that are under this harsh judgment, it is a judgment rendered by themselves, not by God directly.
      • While Jesus leads them to this conclusion, he does not - at least not explicitly - go there with them.
  • Another, more challenging way to read the parable sees it through the lens of the Psalm that is quoted
    • Jesus quotes Psalm 118:22-23, the stone that the builders rejected is now the cornerstone.
    • Faced with the destruction of the Temple, Matthean community was looking for blame.  
    • Blame could be heaped on the religious leaders or on those that caused the rebellion.
    • Jesus offers a different way of interpreting these events.  The vineyard itself is no longer important.  Jesus is the beginning of something new entirely.  Blame for destruction of Temple is pointless. New Kingdom is what Jesus is calling for.
    • In this reading, the vineyard is not Israel, but the Kingdom of God, which is now opened up to other tenants.
    • Here though, the Kingdom reflects not just a salvific relationship, but a relationship between the tenants and the owner that requires something.  The Kingdom, like a vineyard, is expected to bear fruit (see cursing of the Fig Tree)

Preaching Thoughts

  • Two ways to elude the all-too-easy Anti-Jewish tone of this passage (from Douglas Hare in Interpretation: Matthew p. 250)
    • Understand that this is criticism of Jewish leadership leveled from a fellow Jew.  This cannot be used to justify violence toward current Jewish people.  Even if we feel that “Matthew himself abandoned all hope of Israel’s repentance, we must hold this pessimism in check by referring to Paul’s optimism in Romans 11:25-36.
    • Focus not explicitly on the failure of the Jewish leaders, but upon the responsibility of the newly anointed “others.”  If we are now the tenants of the vineyard, we have no less responsibility to bear fruit, and the judgment we are quick to level on others can just as easily be directed at us.
  • “There is no reason for Matthew’s initial (or modern) readers to gloat over the plight of the original tenants or to take unwarranted pleasure in their own membership in the ‘right’ community.  They cannot count on an automatic transfer, as if now they have been guaranteed tenantship.  The question is: Are they (we) a people producing ‘the fruits of the kingdom’?.” (Cousar, p. 514. Parenthetical comments by author, emphasis added).  In other words, When you point the finger at someone else, there are three other fingers pointing back.

Featured Musician - The River’s Voice, Trish and Richard  Bruxvoort Colligan, “Ten Commandments Song” from her album Seeds of Faith. You can find out more about their music at riversvoice.com

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Secondary scripture - Exodus 20:1-20 The Law given at Sinai
Initial Thoughts

  • Read the whole passage - including the explanations (vv. 5-6 and 10-11)
  • The story everyone “knows”
  • Challenge: make it new and make it relevant

Bible Study

  • Order of Commandments:
    • Augustine of Hippo changes the traditional order of the commandments by combining the first two and separating the 10th into 2 commandments (separating coveting property from coveting a spouse)
    • Discrepancies based on a comparison of Deuteronomy 5 and Exodus 20
    • See here for a comparison of the
    • There is a more thorough explanation and table here: http://www.bible-researcher.com/decalogue.html
  • Introduction:
    • “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;”
    • Salvation comes first not second- God’s grace is the foundation upon which the Commandments are based
    • Relationship with God:
      • 1.) 3You shall have no other gods before me.
      • 2.) 4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, 6but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
        • Judgement - 3-4 generations, Grace - thousandth generation: Grace > Judgement.
      • 3.) 7 You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
        • God will not “forgive” anyone...WHAT?! What do we do about this very disturbing passage?
        • Is this “causing the little ones to stumble” so the mill stone is cast around the neck and we take a swim?
        • TL;DR - This is a serious issue, not to be ignored!
      • 4.) 8 Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. 9For six days you shall labor and do all your work. 10But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 11For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.
    • Relationship with Others:
      • 5.) 12 Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.
      • 6.) 13 You shall not murder.
      • 7.) 14 You shall not commit adultery.
      • 8.) 15 You shall not steal.
      • 9.) 16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
      • 10.)17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. 
    • Equal commandments
      • We do not treat them equally- Keeping the Sabbath is not equal to murder
      • What would happen is we kept the commandments equally
    • You can focus on simply one commandment or do a sermon series. Examples:
      • 3 - wrongful use of the Lord’s name: how often is the name of God used to justify power, empire, domestic abuse, political gain, liberal or conservative agendas?
      • 4 - Sabbath: Perhaps the most overlooked- people are tired, yet what example to their pastors show them? Do we as churches hold up the Sabbath? You do as the pastor keep the “Sabbath”? Why not? Why is it less important?
      • 10 - Coveting: TV, radio, media all teach us to covet - the latest iphone, body image. “The only time you should worry about your neighbor’s bowl is if there isn’t enough in it.” postChristian and Louie
    • How do we balance out the Ten Commandments and Jesus’ greatest commandments?
      • Love is the foundation: the Ten Commandments are included in Jesus’ commandments not in opposition
  • Preaching Thoughts
    • Choose to preach on them as a whole or a couple?
    • Why do we chose that some commandments are more important than others when Jesus and God don’t seem to? What would happen if we took each commandment as equally as “Thou Shall Not Kill”

Tasty Wafers of the Week!

TY listeners

Shout outs:

Comments on the Website :

  • David Lick- great comments and nuance on Ray Rice, forgiveness, violence and the NFL

Our Featured Musicians -

Thanks to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Summertime”) and The Steel Wheels for our transition music(“Second of May” from their album Live at Goose Creek) and Paul and Storm for our closing music( “Oh No”).