Epiphany 4C (OT 4)
152: January 31, 2016
309: February 3, 2019
Any preachers out there preach at their home church - where they grew up? Isn’t this the kid that was playing D and D in the youth room? Isn’t this somebody’s son who was kind of a screw up?
Continuation of last week’s message
How much does the response affect the efficacy of the sermon?
What angers the crowd?
Not his sermon, but his announcement that the good news is for the Gentiles as well as the Israelites
“spoke well of him”
“amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth”
Is this not Joseph’s son - not said in a bad way, but in amazement that God chose Joseph’s son
Universal Salvation in Luke emphasized
John’s message in Luke 3
Message of the birth narrative
Elijah and Elisha specifically seeking out Gentiles with whom to share God’s grace and power
Rage is sparked by Jesus’ proclamation that God’s message is for Gentiles and not the “chosen ones”
God continues to reach out - “unfairly” - to those whom we least expect: widows, orphans, Gentiles
Jesus’ message is much more consistent with scripture (in the OT) than the desire for one group to be considered special or privileged above others (cf. “Blessed to be a blessing” Gen 12:3)
“none of them” is repeated twice- is Jesus denying his hometown the opportunity to participate in God’s Kingdom?
Barbara Brown Taylor’s new book Holy Envy is not yet out, but includes a short study on this passage.
“[The people there] were not furious because Jesus had made special claims of himself. They were furious because he had taken a swing at their sense of divine privilege - and he had used their own scriptures to do it…. Once, in a minor attempt to preach it straight, I suggested that Christians who wanted to take Jesus’ sermon to heart might start by donating some of their outreach funds to a local Muslim community that was trying to buy land for a cemetery… Luckily, I was preaching in a town with no cliffs.”
Awkward difficulty of the text
“The response to Jesus is mixed: admiration, wondering, doubt. At verse 23, the narrative takes such a negative turn that some scholars have wondered whether Luke has joined two visits of Jesus to Nazareth, one in which he was favorably received and one in which he was rejected, this second one being reported in Mark 6:1-6.” (Fred Craddock, Interpretation, p. 62)
Both claims, Doctor heal yourself and Do here as in Capernaum are out of place
No stories about Capernaum yet
No charge of hypocrisy against Jesus
Why wouldn’t they want Jesus to do in Nazareth what he did in Capernaum- imagine if you were the parent of child hoping for healing or blind and hoping for sight?
Jesus throws their rejection in their faces while they are still basking in the amazed and gracious glow of his sermon.
He pre-empts their complaints and rejection
Interesting parallel with the passage which follows (but we skip to Luke 5:1-11 next week)
D. Gracious Words
F. Leaves (because they force him to)
Thoughts and Questions
Connection to current immigration controversy: We have all heard the argument, “We need to take care of our own before we let others in and take care of them.” Well, that is exactly the argument of the people who want to throw Jesus off the cliff. Jesus’ sermon and subsequent interpretation flies in the face of those who wonder why we care about foreign refugees when we need to focus on what is happening “here at home”
Connection to the Black Lives Matter movement - why are so many people upset by Black Lives Matters? Could it be that the very nature of the movement highlights both the radical nature and need for the declaration “Black Lives Matter” and the complicit active or passive support for the oppressive system which necessitates the need to proclaim “Black Lives Matter”
Jesus is not saying “Gentile/Widow/Leper Lives Matter More”, but is highlighting both the need for that implicit declaration and how the Jewish authorities have created an oppressive system which has isolated and marginalized gentiles, widows and lepers.
Connection with 1 Corinthians: The Gospel of Love will always meet opposition - will we let it end us to can we “pass through it”? Can we hear the opposition, the rejections and the rage and yet still continue our gospel of love?
Why does Luke tell this story so differently than Mark? In Mark, the details of what Jesus taught are not there. Look what Luke adds - the mission statement, and the fact that the good news is coming to all. The explanation of the Good News is celebrated, the universal nature of it is what causes disruption.
How have Christians taken this passage and done exactly with it what was done to Jesus the first time? Traditional reading of this text is to point to how this is the beginning of Jesus’ rejection. Jesus was rejected in his hometown, and this is programmatic of how the Jews rejected him. But they did not reject Jesus, instead they were clinging to an exclusivist understanding of their place in God’s plan. They were rejecting inclusivity, not Jesus. How many Christians have now taken this story and said, “we are the ones who are given this gift,” and reject any notion of the good news that does not demand exclusivity?
Year C - 1 Corinthians 12-15
Epiphany 4 - 1 Cor 13 Love of Christ
Epiphany 5- 1 Cor 15:1-11 Christ died for our sins
Epiphany 6 - 1 Cor 15:12-20 Resurrection of the dead
Epiphany 7 - 1 Cor 15:35-38, 42-50 Imperishable soul
Epiphany 8 - 1 Cor 15:51-58 (not used this year) Where O death is your victory?
One of the most well known and beautiful parts of scripture
NOT INTENDED FOR WEDDINGS!!!
This is about love within a divided and divisive community - this is a message more to those on the brink of divorce than the beginning of a relationship
Should not be preaching in isolation from I Corinthians 12 - the unity of the community and the value of each individual finds it foundation in love above all things- EVEN FAITH - a radical declaration for a church founder
However- Christ as the basis for that love and the exemplar of love is established previously in the letter: 1:30, 3:7, 8:6
Love is greater than any individual gift or status
Agape vs phileo – used interchangeably, often used to justify a later interpretation of the word – e.g. mansions in John 14 (not what the word meant 400 years ago)
Kenneth Bailey, New Testament Scholar, suggests that 1 Corinthians 11-14 is a series of six homilies organized chiastically (A, B, C, D, C’, B’, A’). These are laid out below- what do you think of them? Do you find this structure compelling? Why?
In the Church, Love is Central
Men and Women Leading in Worship: Prophets and How They Dress (11:2-16)
Order in Worship: Sacrament—The Lord’s Supper (12:1-30)
Gifts and the Nature of the Body (12:1-30)
The Hymn of Love (12:31-14:1)
Spiritual Gifts and the Upbuilding of the Body (14:1-25)
Order in Worship: Word—Prophets and Speakers in Tongues (14:26-33a)
Women and Men Worshiping: No Chatting in Church (14:33b-36)
What Love Is: Love is Greater Than Spiritual Gifts
The Spiritual Gifts (12:-21)
Love and the Spiritual Gifts (13:1-3)
Love defined (13:4-7)
Love and the Spiritual Gifts (13:8-13)
The Spiritual Gifts (14:1-25)
What Love Isn’t: Christian Love Does Not Boast in Its Gifts But in Its Giver
Continue in zeal for the higher gifts and I will show the way (12:31)
Love and the spiritual gifts (13:1-3)
Love defined positively (13:4a)
Loved defined negatively (13:4b-6)
Love defined positively (13:7)
Love and the spiritual gifts (13:8-13)
Purse love and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts (14:1)
[Original: “Continue in zeal for the gifts and run after love.” KB overlooks the reversed ordering of love and spiritual gifts; the reversal mirrors the earlier combination (12:31) and stitches the two (love and spiritual gifts) together. All this from David S Schrock https://davidschrock.com/2013/08/29/love-like-christ-a-look-at-1-corinthians-13/]
Being not doing (see more on this from Brian Peterson at WorkingPreacher.com)
Love does a lot. The traditional translation Love is patient, Love is kind, etc is incorrect. In vv. 4-8a, love is the subject 16 times in a row.
Better translation, “Love shows patience” and “Love acts with kindness”, love is paired with action verbs- Love is doing these actions not simply being these things. (see more on this from Yung Suk Kim at WorkingPreacher.com)
“love is a busy, active thing that never ceases to work. It is always finding ways to express itself for the good of others.” (Peterson)
“Paul never says that such love feels good, ... But true love is not measured by how good it makes us feel. In the context of 1 Corinthians, it would be better to say that the measure of love is its capacity for tension and disagreement without division.” (Peterson)
Thoughts and Questions
What difference does it make for you to locate 1 Corinthians 13 in the larger context of the church at Corinth and its challenges (and to take it out of the context of, say, a wedding service)?
Paul uses many powerful images in this chapter, (ex: a noisy gong). List all of the images you find here. Is there one that you find particularly provocative or memorable? Why?
The previous chapter was about Spiritual gifts and this chapter is about love. What is the relationship between spiritual gifts and love?
The term “love” may be used in many ways. We may “love” our job or a great book or chocolate. How should we define love? How does Paul define love?
Not a part of a larger teaching about/from Jeremiah. Stand along passage that will need some context. Probably need to do some further teaching
Not a bullfrog.
Not a good friend of mine.
Leaves out second part of chapter 1
God warns Jeremiah of what is coming:
A pot boiling over in the north
Trouble, war, armies coming.
“You are an armed city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall against the entire land… They will all attack you, but they won’t defeat you, because I am with you and will rescue you, declares the Lord.”
Trouble is coming from within and without. Trouble for the people, and trouble for Jeremiah. But God will be there.
Context of Jeremiah
John Holbert gives a nice recap of the historical context.
“Thus, Jeremiah began his prophetic career in 627 B.C.E. He spoke God's word, this note says, through the reign of Josiah's son, Jehoiakim, and right up until the exile of Israel to Babylon in the fifth month of 587 B.C.E., the eleventh year of the reign of the last king of Judah, Zedekiah.”
Josiah was the great reformer, who was said to have found the Torah, and initiated vast reforms. His sons though, didn’t keep up his reforming spirit, and allowed the idols and various altars to go back up.
“Jeremiah is the longest and most complex prophetic book in the Bible. It’s also the most deeply anchored in suffering. Written for survivors of war and exile, the book is filled with pain and trauma. It bears witness to three Babylonian military invasions (597, 587, 582 BCE) resulting in the destruction of the Jerusalem temple and the royal palace complex, the taking of land, and the death and exile of thousands of people...The book of Jeremiah is disaster literature, then, but it also survival literature. It serves as a survival guide for a suffering people, the historic losers of war… When the prophetic text names Judah’s disaster and grieves its losses, when it refuses to let death and destruction have the final say, and when it imagines a future beyond destruction, it serves as a map for finding hope. In a world crushed with pain, the book imagines God shaping new beginnings from the ruins of fallen worlds.” (Common English Study Bible, introduction to the Book of Jeremiah, p. 1205-6)
This context is important to contemplate given that this is the beginning of the story. All of the sadness and pain is still ahead, but it informs even the start of Jeremiah’s journey.
“The Lord’s word came to me.”
This wasn’t Jeremiah’s doing. He didn’t initiate the relationship, but he was aware of it.
Jeremiah gets a sense of God’s intimate relationship, one that has existed from before he was born.
Set apart - not above.
Prophet to the nations - not just interested in local affairs or even just Judah. God’s authority is set above all nations, so then is God’s prophet.
“I don’t know how to speak because I’m only a boy.”
Probably means 10-12 years old.
Reminiscent of Moses, who also says he does not know how to speak.
God’s reply reinforces that it is not about Jeremiah. His agency is not important. God’s direction and words are what matter.
Promise to rescue.
Implies that there will be danger.
Things are not going to go well for Jeremiah, but God’s presence is promised. More than that, God’s rescue is promised.
“Then the Lord stretched out his hand and touched my mouth”
Reminiscent of Isaiah, who was touched by the hot coal.
God said “I’m putting my words into your mouth”
Dig up and pull down, destroy and demolish, build and plant”
Again, reminiscent of Ecclesiastes
Reflects the various “theologies” of Jeremiah. There is never one pure explanation of why these things happen.
“Four (pluck up, pull down, destroy, overthrow) of the six verbs God uses to describe Jeremiah’s appointment have negative connotations. Only two verbs (build, plant) have positive connotations. The use of twice as many negative verbs as positive ones affirms that Jeremiah’s message will largely focus on destruction and devastation.” (Alphonetta Wines, Working Preacher)
Thoughts and Questions
Jeremiah called to a purpose, not to a good and happy life. Many preach that God wants us to live a life of meaning and prosperity, but Jeremiah is not called to a happy life.
“We who have been taught to think of God as a way to get what we want may find it hard to hear that we are God’s way to get what God wants! Time and again in scripture, God seems to think nothing of placing otherwise contented, happy people’s lives in peril… Here’s the hard question: Can it be that a loving and merciful God is also willing to hurt and imperil faithful lovers of God?” (Will Willimon from The Hardest Question)
In a culture - and church culture in particular - so intent on trying to build up (save, rescue, restore) the church. How are we supposed to feel when we are called to pull down, destroy, demolish. What are we called to destroy? Broken systems? Apathy?
“The complexity of his message is reflected in the ambivalence of his love-hate relationship with his assigned task. Though compelled to preach, Jeremiah seems to retain the reluctance of his youth throughout his ministerial career” (Alphonetta Wines, Working Preacher) How many of us feel a similar ambivalence? Can we be honest about it? Are there times when we feel as if “the Lord’s word has brought me nothing but insult and injury, constantly I thought, I’ll forget him, I’ll no longer speak his name, But there’s an intense fire in my heart, trapped in my bones. I’m drained trying to contain it; I’m unable to do it.” (Jeremiah 20:8b-9)
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 Bryan Odeen for our closing music.