Easter 3C

image: John 21:1-14. Once more Jesus showeth himself to Peter and others by the Sea of Galilee by William Hole (wikimedia)


162: April 10, 2016

322: May 5, 2019

Voice in the Wilderness: Lee Saylor

Featured Musician: Rob Leveridge

Psalmist: Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Voice in the Wilderness: Cheryl Kerr

Psalmist: Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

John 21: 1-19

Initial Thoughts

  • Eastertide in John

    • Easter 3C is John 21:1-19, Jesus appears among the fishermen.

    • Easter 4C is John 10:22-32 Conflict with Jewish opposition over identity.

    • Easter 5C is John 13:31-35 Farewell Discourse: Jesus’ new commandment: Love each other.

    • Easter 6C is John 14:23-29 Farewell Discourse: Jesus bid peace to his disciples

    • Easter 7C is John 17:20-26 Jesus prayers for disciples before his arrest.

  • The ending of John...part deux

  • WTF!? Jesus said he was sending them and yet they have returned right o where Jesus found them- fishing on the sea of Galilee /facepalm

Bible Study

  • Miraculous Catch

    • Connection with Luke 5:1-11- John makes is a resurrection story (in Galilee)

    • From Call story to post-resurrection story

      • Possible the author of John has access to Luke (Crossan)

      • Are we to see it as our own call story now?

  • 153 Fish – does this matter?Maybe...but probably not

    • 153 was the number of nations at the time of John’s writing (David Ewert)

    • 153 was the number of different kinds known species of fish at the time (Jerome)

      • Matthew 13:47

    • 153 was the size of the local early Christian community

    • The number doesn’t matter- there simply were enough fish to provide for the disciples as they began to share the Gospel (John Wesley)

    • “Because in this story, the promised memory is abundant life, and here again, it is. Abundant fish. Don’t metaphorize this. And I don’t care if that’s not a word. What if it was really true? 153 fish? That is a crazy amount -- and why? Because that is how much God loves us.” (Karoline Lewis, Working Preacher)

  • Jesus- was he present physically or spiritually?

    • Is this a full resurrection appearance or does the appearance of fish and the act of breaking bread together change them

      • They remember breaking bread and fish with Jesus (miraculous feeding)

      • They remember the miraculous catch (call of Peter, James and John)

      • In remembering they are inspired to do what Jesus asks them to do: Go out and share the good news!

  • Miraculous Feeding

    • Eating bread proved he was not a spirit/ghost but was bodily resurrected

    • Eucharist?

      • Earlier depictions of the Eucharist were of bread and fish not bread and cup

      • Reminiscent of the multiplication of loaves and fish

      • Not all the eucharistic verbs- only took and gave

  • Peter and the Three Questions

    • Traditional Interpretation - the three promised are Peter’s way of repenting his three denials, rededicating his life to Jesus and symbolic of Jesus’ forgiveness

    • Greek geek Interpretation - It’s all about love and the special form of love that is used: agape v eros or philo AND the difference between knowing oida and deeper knowledge ginosko

      • Jesus asks “Do you agape me?” and Peter says “I philo you”

      • Peter first says oiko the first 2 times and ginosko the last

      • Gail O’Day of the New Interpreter's Commentary is not impressed by either of these (and neither is Eric)

    • Faith is tied to action

      • If you love Jesus - do something about it

      • The love of Jesus is transformative- it changes you and makes you show that love to others through concrete action - it should move you out of your life before Jesus, not lead you back to as if nothing happened.

    • Do you love me?

      • “Jesus demonstrated his love for us, his ‘lambs’ and ‘sheep,’ by laying down his life for us. When we are told to feed his sheep, we are being entrusted with his most valued possession. Jesus identifies the proper motivation for Christian ministry. He asks the one great question that must be reflected upon and answered by each person in ministry: ‘Do you love me? As with Peter’s response, our answer to this question cannot be superficial…. True and effective ministry to God’s people must flow out of our love for Christ. Our love for Jesus is reflected in our love for his sheep. This love is our calling.” (African Study Bible, footnotes on p. 1567)

Thoughts and Questions

  • What is your experience of a crazy amount of grace? When were you blindsided, knocked over by grace? Consider your version of 153 fish - a helluva lotta fish.

  • How do we live out our faith in action? When will be get beyond the old argument of faith and world and realize that it is both- love is shown through action and action must be rooted in articulated love.

  • How do we experience Jesus in our midst in the Eucharist, other sacraments and worship? In what way can we facilitate these Jesus moments?

  • How are you transformed by the love of God in Jesus? How has it changed your life? And if it hasn’t then have you truly accepted Jesus’ call to discipleship?

Revelation 5:11-14

Initial Thoughts

  • For the love of God, please don’t call it “Revelations.” That is worse than pronouncing the ‘s’ in Illinois.

  • Apocalypse = apo: from, kalyptos: covering. As Barbara Rossing says, the purpose of the apocalypse is to reveal something. The purpose of Revelation is like Dorothy pulling aside the curtain to reveal the power of the Wizard was a fraud. Revelation is pulling back the curtain to reveal the power of Rome is the same.

  • This passage introduces the most important theme for the rest of the Book of Revelation, and that is “Lamb Power.”

Bible Study

  • Read all of chap 5

    • To get a proper perspective of the tension that is broken in this passage, include 5:1-5 at least, and probably the whole chapter.

    • The point of this passage is posed in v. 2 “Who is worthy to open the scroll?”

    • Without v. 1-10, the surprise twist that is found in 11-14 is lost to the reader.

  • The Lion who is actually a lamb

    • There is great mourning over who will open the scroll.

    • Weeping for no one was found worthy.

    • V 5 "Don't weep. Look! The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has emerged victorious so that he can open the scroll”

    • V. 6 “I saw a Lamb”

    • They were expecting that the one who would open the scroll would be the victorious lion, but instead it was the lamb who was slain. This, in a nutshell, is the gospel.

    • The people expected a victorious Lion to save them, but received instead the Lamb.

    • Without the beginning of the chapter, this surprise is lost. Essential part of the vision is the twist that is verse 6.

    • “The appearance of Jesus as the slain Lamb rather than the lion in chapter 5 of Revelation gives us the first and most important image for God’s model of conquering, the image of Lamb Power.” (Barbara Rossing, The Rapture Exposed)

  • All worship. Universal nature of Jesus’ rule.

    • Who was saved? “persons from every tribe, language, people, and nation”

    • Who worships? Millions and Millions.

    • Who praises? Everyone everywhere.

    • "Worthy is the slaughtered Lamb to receive power, wealth, wisdom, and might, and honor, glory, and blessing." The song is more than praise. It is a direct affront to the Emperor. “Worthy is a well-known political term in the Greek-speaking part of the Roman Empire.” (Walter Tayler, Working Preacher)

    • “Concentric circles from God through Christ to the living creatures, to the twenty four elders, to an innumerable host, to include absolutely everything that is“ (Eugene Boring, Interpretation: Revelation)

    • “Absolutely no one and nothing is excluded from this picture. Given this mind-expanding picture, it is impossible to see any part of the universe as ultimately rebellious and lost, just as it is impossible to see any part of the universe as existing apart from the creative weill and activity of the one creator God.” (Eugene Boring, Interpretation: Revelation)

Thoughts and Questions

  • “Lamb Power” is the prime model for the book of Revelation. The lectionary doesn’t take us deep into the war-like images, but all of the battles and wars and destructions needs to be read through the lens of “Lamb Power.” The ending of the book is foreshadowed here at the beginning of the grand vision. The final victory over Rome - whose power is summarized as four horsemen - comes not through the power of the conquering lion, but through the power of the Lamb who was slain. Lamb Power - not Roman power.

  • This glimpse of the victory gives the readers strength to endure all that is to come. The Lamb does not end the war, plagues, and famine. Nor does the Lamb bring them. “We need to put 5:11-14 into the context of what follows, as well as into the context of what has preceded.  In what follows, the six seals are opened, and the end-time woes or sufferings begin, and the battle with evil is engaged once again. But those listening can handle the images of destruction and death, because they know that the message does not stop with the coming of the four horsemen, the plagues, and violence, but goes beyond them to the word of salvation and joy announced in our text.  The glimpse of heaven also reminds us that the decisive victory has indeed already been won--which is why we are in the season of Easter. The future triumph is already present in heaven. What is left for us to do is to join in the worship.” (Walter Taylor, Working Preacher)

  • “The powerful metaphor of Jesus as “the Lamb who was slain” will become the central christological symbol of the entire book. This scripting of Jesus as a lamb is an obvious signal not to interpret the imagery of Revelation literally, but rather metaphorically. Just as Jesus was not literally a four-legged sheep or lamb, so Revelation’s other symbols and numbers should not be read literally. Revelation’s profound truth is not as a series of predictions to be figured out, but rather a deeper-than-literal truth -- a journey into God’s vision of hope for our world.” (Barbara Rossing, Working Preacher)

Acts 9:1-6

Initial Thoughts

  • Acts in Eastertide:

    • Check out Matt Skinner’s guide on preaching Acts in Eastertide (http://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?m=4377&post=5304)

    • Easter 3C – Acts 9:1-20: Conversion of Saul

    • Easter 4C – Acts 9:36-43: Raising of Tabitha

    • Easter 5C – Acts 11:1-18: Peter’s vision opens gospel to the Gentiles

    • Easter 6C – Acts 16:9-15: Conversion of Lydia (a Gentile that “loved God”)

    • Easter 7C – Acts 16:16-34: Conversion of the Jailer

    • Pentecost

Bible Study

  • Saul

    • First introduced in Acts 7:58 as the one holding the coats of the witnesses to Stephen’s stoning

    • Acts 8:1 - Approved of Stephen’s stoning

    • “Spewing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples”, but no indication he actually committed attacks or murder against the disciples

    • Yes- he approved of Stephen’s stoning, but is forgiven of this by Stephen - Acts 7:60

    • Is Saul’s calling made possible by Stephen’s forgiveness? Robinson & Wall, Called to be Church.

  • Theophany

    • Typical appearance of the divine on a prophet (Ex. 19:6; Ezek. 1:4, 7, 13, 28; Dan 10:6)

    • Saul responds correctly - falling to the ground

    • Main difference - Jesus is introducing himself instead of sending the prophet

  • Conversion?

    • change of heart, change of perspective, not always a change of knowledge

    • He begins as a up and coming self-assured zealot for the High Priest (probably Caiaphas) and ends up blind and utterly dependent on others

    • He is blind- only when blind can he now see

      • Stories blind beggar - Luke

    • Not conversion but calling

      • No evidence Saul gives up his former faith, rather he remains proud of his faith and continues to appeal to Hebrew scripture

      • His calling changes from persecuting those following the Way to “a new understanding of the law which is otherwise an obstacle to the Gentiles. His ministry will be based on the specific conviction that the Gentiles will become part of the people of God without having to pass through the law.” Stendahl, Paul Among Jews and Gentiles.

    • Confirmed by members of the Jewish community (Ananias) and preached in Synagogues

      • Saul does not understand what has happened to him until Ananias interprets his experience for him and tells Saul what his calling will be.

      • Acts 22 - Ananias says to Paul, “The God of our fathers appointed you…” not a conversion - same God, just an expanded view of the law.

    • Saul’s name does not change until Acts 13 when his focus shifts to Rome (see more in Stendahl, Paul Among Jews and Gentiles)

  • Why is this important?

    • Saul/Paul was and remains Jewish - stop interpreting his words and ministry as anti-semitic and super-secessionist

    • Paul is a Jewish apostle to the Gentiles

  • Very different from the traditional, reformed and Lutheran interpretation of Paul

    • Paul is not the remorseful Jew looking for salvation - like Luther’s agony that he will never be able to meet the demands of the law and therefore comes to the gift of faith and justification by faith.

    • Paul sees himself as righteous and blameless in the eyes of God as a faithful Jew. He expresses regret at the way he treated followers of the Way after his call. There is no evidence he was theologically troubled prior to his change in call.

  • This is not a story about Saul but about God (and possibly Stephen)

    • God is the one who takes action - appears in a flash of light, speaks, commands

    • Saul falls to the ground and asks a question

    • Stephen perhaps does even more by forgiving Saul

    • “Saul was so completely caught up with his own agenda that he could perceive nothing outside it...Conversion in Saul’s case means that the Other, Jesus, intrudes--almost violently--into his life and agenda, driving him to his knees, blinding him with light, terrifying him by calling his name in a voice only he can hear...That voice break in on Saul’s self-centered ego.” Robinson & Wall, Called to be Church

Thoughts and Questions

  • What is the obsession for a Damascus moment? For Paul, the fact, he needed this theophany to follow Jesus acts against his ministry. He repeatedly seems to justify that he is indeed an apostle even though he used to persecute the followers of the Way. Now it seems those who are “converted” have a higher profile than those who have believed their whole lives.

  • Importance of laying on of hands – ordination- when else do we do this? When should we?

  • With the exponential rise of “nones and dones” We have come a long way since Horace Bushnell’s Christian Nurture. What does it mean to provide an experience of the Divine and then the support to interpret that experience? Is this not one of our primary functions as church?

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 (“Miserlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”,"Real Ride"and“Summertime”) and Bryan Odeen for our closing music.