Epiphany 6C (OT 6)

Photo: A Field Sermon” by Anna Ancher (wikimedia)



Psalmist: Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Luke 6:17-26

Initial Thoughts

  • What did we skip?

    • 5:12-16 Jesus heals a man with a skin disease

      1. “Lord, if you want, you can make me clean.”

    • 5:17-26 Jesus heals a paralyzed man

      1. Friends lowered him through the roof

      2. “Friend, your sins are forgiven”

      3. Pharisees mutter

    • 5:27-32 Jesus calls Levi the tax collector

      1. Levi has a banquet for Jesus

      2. Pharisees grumbled

    • 5:33-38 Jesus vs Pharisees vs John

      1. Pharisees and John’s disciples fast and pray, Jesus drinks and eats

      2. “Don’t pour new wine into old wineskins”

    • 6:1-11 Jesus eats grain on the Sabbath

      1. Pharisees grumble

      2. Human One is the Lord of the Sabbath

    • 6:12-17 Jesus chooses apostles

      1. Simon, whom he named Peter; his brother Andrew; James; John; Phillip; Bartholomew; Matthew; Thomas; James son of Alphaeus; Simon, who was called a zealot; Judas son of James; and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

  • A lot of this is Markan material, so it is found in Matthew too, but many of these stories never appear in Lectionary, or in similar Epiphany time of year that seldom gets covered.

Bible Study

  • This is another two-part mini-lection. This is the first half of the sermon. Next week we read the second half.

    • This week: Setting, first half of the sermon

    • Next week: Second half of sermon (“Love your enemies”)

    • Much like Matthew 5-7, but this version is much shorter.

    • This week is the setup, next week is the punchline.

  • V. 17-19 The setup

    • “Came down from the mountain” where he selected his 12 apostles

    • “For Luke, the mountain is a place of prayer, and there he chooses the Twelve. Now he moves to the plain below to be with the people, with whom Jesus identifies, as at his baptism.” (Fred Craddock, Interpretation: Luke, p. 86)

    • Came down to “a large area of level ground” Gathered three kinds of people:

      • 12 Apostles

      • Many disciples

      • Crowds from all over, including Tyre and Sidon

        • Very far away, far north. Barely on the map of Palestine

        • Referred to in Matthew 11:21 and Mark 3:8

        • In Matthew Tyre and Sidon are referred to as terrible cities, places that deserve destruction.

        • In Mark, they are simply named in describing how big the crowds are that are following Jesus (much like it is used here)

    • Crowds wanted to touch Jesus because “power is going out from him and he is healing everyone”

  • V. 20-23 The Happies

    • “Happy”? This doesn’t seem to fit. Happiness is just too temporal

    • Happy and Terrible needs to be seen through lens of Honor and Shame

      • Honor and Shame is everything to social framework of the time

      • Instead, “How honorable it is to be hungry now” - which is a complete reversal of cultural norms.

    • From The Message: “Then he spoke: You're blessed when you've lost it all. God's kingdom is there for the finding. 21 You're blessed when you're ravenously hungry. Then you're ready for the Messianic meal. You're blessed when the tears flow freely. Joy comes with the morning. 22 "Count yourself blessed every time someone cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and that that person is uncomfortable. 23 You can be glad when that happens - skip like a lamb, if you like! - for even though they don't like it, I do . . . and all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company; my preachers and witnesses have always been treated like this. Give Away Your Life “

  • V. 24-26 The Terribles

    • These are not warnings, these are pronouncements

    • “As pronouncements on the lips of Jesus, these statements are performative; that is to say, the words have power and perform or make true the kinds of life presented in the statement. Jesus is making the official proclamation of the way life is inside and outside the reign of God. These are not suggestion about how to be happy or warning lest one become miserable; blessings and woes as words of Jesus are to be heard with the assurance that they are God’s word to us and that God's word is not empty…. Does this mean that the entire passage is descriptive of a condition still in God’s future? Luke's answer is yes and no. Both the blessings and the woes are anchored in the present… There is a joining of present and gurue that reminds us that the eschatological reality is already beginning with the advent of Jesus.” (Craddock, p. 87, 88)

    • From The Message: “But it's trouble ahead if you think you have it made. What you have is all you'll ever get. 25 And it's trouble ahead if you're satisfied with yourself. Your self will not satisfy you for long. And it's trouble ahead if you think life's all fun and games. There's suffering to be met, and you're going to meet it. 26 "There's trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests - look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! Your task is to be true, not popular. “

Thoughts and Questions

  • David Ewart (Holy Textures) makes a great point - to remember who this is written for -
    Theophilus. Theophilus is not poor or weeping. Presumably, this would be a rich man who had some social standing. Luke is reminding Theophilus (through Jesus’ words) that following Jesus is going to be costly.

“What's at stake for high-status Theophilus is revealed in Verse 22:

‘Blessed are you when people hate you,

        and when they exclude you, revile you,

        and defame you on account of the Son of Man’

Because for Theophilus that is exactly the fate that awaits if he joins the Jesus community.

As Malina and Rohrbaugh comment:

‘The social ostracism in Verse 22 is always the fate of the poor in agrarian societies. ... social ostracism may become the fate of the rich who join Jesus groups that include the poor. Luke knows the terrible costs involved for rich Jesus group members, but is uncompromising in his demand that these costs be paid.’ Might social ostracism still be the fate of those who befriend the poor?” (Ewart, quoting Malina and Rohrbaugh)

  • This fits with the themes given to us by Mary’s song and Jesus’ first sermon in Nazareth. The tables are being turned. There is social upheaval that is both

1 Corinthians 15:12-20

Initial Thoughts

  • Continuation from last week- deeply connection to last week’s reading

  • If preaching on this- read the rest of the chapter.

  • Issues to think about: organ donation, willful cremation, unwillful cremation and mutilation, etc.

Bible Study

  • Last week was the beginning of the answer of v. 12:

    • “If Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection?”

    • Paul is addressing Corinthians who believed there is no resurrection - a concern that persisted into the second-century and even today:

      • In his debate with Trypho the Jew, Justin acknowledges that there are “some who are called Christians ... who say that there is no resurrection of the dead [anastasis nekrōn], and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven.” Against such “godless, impious heretics,” Justin takes an uncompromising stand: “Do not imagine that they are Christians” (Dialogue with Trypho).

      • Richard Hays’s characterization of the Corinthian argument: “The resurrection of Jesus is a wonderful metaphor for the spiritual change that God works in the lives of those who possess knowledge of the truth. “Resurrection” symbolizes the power of the Spirit that we experience in our wisdom and our spiritual gifts. But the image of resuscitated corpses (anastasis nekrōn) is only for childish fundamentalists. Those of us who are spiritual find it repugnant.” (Interpretation: 1 Corinthians)

    • The difficulty is that this once (and possibly still) heretical believe is common among modern Christians.

  • Bodily Resurrection

    • anastasis nekrōn, translated as the resurrection of the dead literally means “the rising of corpses”. A fleshy resurrection.

    • Counter to the new-platonic world view that the rational soul would finally be freed of its flawed and  fleshy prison.

    • However it is unclear that Paul means the resuscitation of a dead body. Later (vv. 35-49) paul will argue the foolishness of that claim. There is a resurrection but our bodies will be completely changed - like a seed to a plant.

  • The First Fruits

    • Christ is the beginning glimpse of the eschatological resurrection

    • The resurrection Paul has in mind is NOT eternity in heaven upon death, but rather the eschatological vision of unity with God when the Kingdom of God is fully realized.

    • To claim there is no resurrection is not only to deny the victory of life over death and love over fear, but also denies the culminating Kingdom of God initiated by Christ’s resurrection. If Christ was not raised, then the Kingdom is not at hand. (Jerry Irish, Feasting on the Word: Year C, Volume 1: Advent through Transfiguration)

  • To deny the bodily resurrection is to deny the resurrection of Jesus, which is to deny the Good News:

    • If the resurrection is not real then:

      • The proclamation is in vain (v.14)  and we are false witnesses about God (v. 15)

      • Our faith is in vain (v. 14) and futile (v.17) and we are still bound by our sins (v. 17)

      • Those who have died in Christ (and otherwise) are lost forever. (v. 18)

    • In other words- if there is no resurrection, then death wins and love dies

Thoughts and Questions

  • Go back to last week- the appearance of Jesus are the evidence of the resurrection and culminating Kingdom of God. It is evidence:

    • “Jesus Christ is no less a presence in our world than in Paul's, but are we aware of that presence? Can we abandon our multitude of distractions, many of them rooted in the same status seeking that plagued the church in Corinth, long enough to experience God's love and live our lives in response to that love? As in today's reading, Paul's theology always couples death and resurrection, Christ's and our own. Marcus Borg writes that "death and resurrection become a metaphor for the internal spiritual process that lies at the heart of the Christian path." That process entails the death of our self-seeking ego, ...With that death comes a resurrection, a gift of new life empowered by God's gracious love.” (Jerry Irish, Feasting on the Word: Year C, Volume 1: Advent through Transfiguration.)

  • Resurrection acts as the divine stamp that marks Jesus’ life and ministry with victory. It moved Christianity from a ethical code to pursuing a transformed life.

    • How many of our church members are seeking transformation? How many are seeking a moral compass?

  • Why does the resurrection matter? Does it have to be a bodily resurrection?

  • What do we mean when we talk about resurrection? Does our faith, as Paul claims, rely on belief in the bodily resurrection? If it doesn’t then what are the fundamentals of our faith?

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.