Proper 22A (OT 27)
240: Oct 8, 2017
Featured Musician:The River’s Voice (Trish and Richard Bruxvoort Colligan)
VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS:Mason Parks
PSALMIST: RICHARD BRUXVOORT COLLIGAN
Tasty Wafer:New Zealand Prayer Book
83: Oct 5, 2014
Featured Musician - Red Molly,
And The River’s Voice (Trish and Richard Bruxvoort Colligan)
Tasty Wafer: Easy way to memorize the Ten Commandments!
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, Lectionary Year A, p. 513)
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.
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.
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 (eternal life)
Problems with the classic interpretation
Allusion to Isaiah 5
The Vineyard = Israel (as found in Isaiah 5)
Therefore the tenets should be understood as the leaders (Chief Priests and Elders);
The vineyard of Israel continues to bear fruit (it is not superseded)
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.
Tenants who do now bear and share fruit are rejected and the kingdom or vineyard is given to those who do bear and share good fruit (Jew and Christian alike)
“The saving activity of God continues in that community where taking up the “yoke of the kingdom” means adherence to the Torah as fulfilled in Jesus Christ.” (M. Eugene Boring, NIB 8, p. 415)
Not Christians superseding Jews but faithful superseding unfaithful
The expectation of the new tenets are the same as the old: bear and share fruit (see cursing of the Fig Tree)
An alternative interpretation (Ken Bailey, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes)
Parable of the “noble” Vineyard Owner and his Son
A lot of connections to Isaiah 5, but with a very different result
Isaiah 5 leads to the total destruction of the vineyard
There is no wrath given here except by the assumption of the Pharisees
Vineyard Owner/God’s reaction
3 servants sent away in the midst of escalating violence
Vineyard owner is expected to “bring wrath” upon the wicked tenants, but instead chooses vulnerability- he send his son, unarmed
Great story about King Hussein and the Jordanian military coup (early ‘80s) see p. 418
Violence only leads to violence - the vineyard owner chooses a 3rd way
The hope is to remind the tenets of their humanity and empathy that they might feel shame in the presence of vulnerability
Incarnation and Atonement - God send God’s beloved son. “The short term result of the offer of love is the death of the son.” (Bailey, p.425) What will the long term effects be?
Christology - Jesus is consistent with the prophets and the beloved incarnate son.
Vineyard owner respond to violence with vulnerable love. Anger is reprocessed into grace (and “implies forgiveness for those willing to accept his offer of love”.
The vineyard is God’s - never the stewards or the tenets, never has been nor will be. The Tenets have a massive misunderstanding of squatter’s rights
Inheritance - Jesus’ inheritance is not the earthly kingdom or power, but the theological and ethical heritage of Abraham and Moses and the prophets
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.
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
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
There is a more thorough explanation and table here: http://www.bible-researcher.com/decalogue.html
“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.
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
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”
Literary context contains some dangerous anti-Jewish thinking if removed from Paul’s greater understanding.
Refers to “the dogs” who practice circumcision and refers to it as “mutilation.”
“The dogs” must refer to Jewish believers who insist on newcomers being first circumcised before they could be baptized. What we see is one side of a family fight. Paul’s harsh words must not be construed across time to include all Jews.
“Paul isn’t opposed to Jewish Christians who continue to keep the Law. Rather, his reaction to the dogs is against those who require non-Jewish church members to keep the Law in the same way Jews do. He argues that non-Jews experience a full relationship with God without adopting those elements of the Law that were intended only for Jews.” (Common English Study Bible notes. p. 378NT)
This passage begins with his response to this group that wants to require new believers to become circumcised.
“We are the circumcision. We are the ones who serve by God’s Spirit and boast in Christ Jesus. We don’t put our confidence in rituals performed on the body, though I have good reason to have this kind of confidence…” (Philippians 3:3-4)
V. 5-6: Paul’s resume
Wants to prove that he is an insider. He knows of what he speaks. When it came to the Law, he was all in.
V. 5: From birth. Circumcised on eighth day, tribe of Benjamin. Hebrew.
V. 6: Into adulthood. Pharisaic observance of Law, Harrased Christians, Blameless under the Law.
V. 7: All of these things that at one time I would have counted as assets, I now move to the liabilities column
I have lost everything for Christ - but what I lost is sewer trash (or dung- CEB adds the word ‘sewer’ to denote a particular type of trash that the NRSV leaves out)
Place as an “insider” with God
Given up “chosenness,” and instead taken up Christ
Take up the suffering of Christ as well as the Resurrection.
Resurrection is more than life after death.
Death and Resurrection, Suffering and Perfection
“In verses 10-11 Paul speaks of Easter, Good Friday, and Easter. For Paul, the resurrection interpreted the cross, planting it centrally not only in his faith but also in the style of his life and ministry. Rather than erasing Good Friday, Easter was God’s vindication of Good Friday as the definition of God’s way in the world and for the world: obedience, suffering, death… Taking the form of a servant and being obedient to death took shape in word and deed, in concrete acts of ministry.” (Fred Craddock, Interpretation: Philippians, p. 61)
“Faith for [Paul] involved running, wrestling, striving, and fighting, none of which would end until the day of Christ” (Craddock, 61).
Pursuit of perfection
Resurrection is not about after death
Pursuing perfection is about this life.
“Forget about the things behind me and reach for the things ahead of me”
“Despite the significant change Paul has experienced, he is careful to acknowledge that he has not yet arrived at the goal. The goal itself appears to be of two sorts.”
Being with Christ following his own death
NRSV: “sharing of his sufferings;” CEB: “participation in his sufferings.” NRSV feels like an emotion of empathy, while CEB feels more active.
NRSV: “resurrection from the dead;” CEB: “resurrection of the dead.”
CEB feels like it is more about an age, not an event. Preposition from makes it feel like the Resurrection is of one particular body - presumably Paul’s. As opposed to Paul hoping to be a part of the Resurrection of the dead, which is not so much about dead and living bodies as it is about an age of full, whole, woken, authentic life.
“The English translation needs to be more forceful, as in ‘because I have been overtaken by Christ Jesus.’ Paul’s understanding that he was seized or captured by Christ, not that he initiated the relationship, or that he earned it somehow. Because of that seizure, which Paul now understands to have been a gift of grace, he continues to strive toward what lies ahead.” (Beverly Gaventa, Texts for Preaching, Year A, p. 512-3)
Common English translates v. 12 with language of “grabbed hold me”
Every person of faith should examine the question “I was _________, and because of Christ I am ________”
If you were building your resume, what would it be?
For Me (Robb): I was… born a Christian, a white male, middle class American.
Is it possible to truly give up these emblems of privilege?
Instead, perhaps we can give up the comfort, blind allegiance to status quo, complacency about the plight of others.
What have you given up for Christ? What do we take up for Christ? Give up a life that may have appearance of righteousness, but is really empty. Take up authentic life that is lived for a purpose. Take up life knowing Christ - Christ’s path, forgiveness, invitation, grace, and even his suffering.
The first five historic questions of John Wesley:
Have you faith in Christ?
Are you going on to perfection?
Do you expect to be made perfect in love in this life?
Are you earnestly striving after it?
Are you resolved to devote yourself wholly to God and his work?
“Paul’s interpretation of his own conversion is highly suggestive for contemporary reflection on what it means to proclaim the gospel. Unlike many traditional approaches to evangelistic preaching, which offer the gospel as the answer to problems in people’s lives, Paul understands the gospel to be just the opposite. It gave him no answers to problems, but instead it disturbed his answers and sent him in search of a new ‘solution,’ a new understanding. More precisely, it thrust a new understanding on him, an understanding that required radical reassessment of his past, present, and future.” (Gaventa, p. 514)
THANK YOU FOR LISTENING AND GET IN TOUCH:
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 Paul and Storm for our closing music (“Oh No”).