Proper 23B (OT 28)




Voice in the WILDERNESS: Nelson Pierce

Psalmist: Richard Bruxvoort Colligan


Psalmist: Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Mark 10:17-31

Initial Thoughts

  • So many good parts in these verses - one of the downfalls of the lectionary

    • Stewardship

    • Sacrifice

    • Who can be saved?

  • Great Resource: Binding the Strong Man

Bible Study

  • The goodness of Jesus

    • Jesus denies being good

    • Could Jesus have sinned? Would it matter? It would to Paul in Hebrews

    • Is this simply Jesus rejecting the ruler’s attempt to flatter him

  • Chiastic structure:

    • A question about eternal life

    • B Rich man cannot leave possessions and follow

    • C Jesus explanation and the disciple’s reaction

    • B’ disciples have left possessions and followed Jesus

    • A’ Eternal life question is answered

  • Story of the man

    • Who? Just a “man”: not “young” as in Matthew or “a ruler” as in Luke,

    • Man is not identified as being rich - only as having many possessions - Like me….and maybe like you

      • When I (Eric) last moved I found out we own 3.5 tons of stuff and I was grieved because we had many possessions)

    • Juxtaposition of earthly treasure and heavenly treasures - the man is asked to give up his earthly treasures in order to gain “treasure in heaven” only after receiving this treasure should he come and follow Jesus

      • What are treasures in heaven?

    • Like the prodigal son’s brother we do not know what the “man” decides

  • Wealthy entering Heaven

    • Camel and the eye of the needle:

      • Is not about a door in Jerusalem: Is there a door in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher known as the eye of the needle? yes. It was built in the 16th century...clearly not about this passage

      • Is this a typo wherein Jesus meant a rope or cable (kamilos) instead of camel (Kamelos)? possible not not very probable.

      • Could Jesus actually be using hyperbole? Yes considering that Jesus does this repeatedly: pluck out your sinful eye, cut off your sinful hand, put a millstone around your next and throw yourself into the sea, etc.

    • So what’s the point? relationships and your neighbors matter more than your possessions (see also parable of the sower in Mark 4:18-19)

    • Not about wealth and possessions, but our attitude about wealth and possessions.

      • do you place your trust in God or your possessions?

      • Family after WW2- lost everything, but had each other and thus were rich

  • Who can be saved?

    • vv.28-31 is the antithesis of the prosperity Gospel

    • Isn’t it impossible to put others ahead of ourselves and to live completely in the Kingdom of God- YES, but with God all things are possible. Good connection with Hebrews

    • God’s grace in Jesus Christ shows u how to live with love, forgiveness and compassion (as God has taught previously in the commandments and the prophets)

    • The kingdom of God requires sacrifice- what are you unwilling to sacrifice for the Kingdom of God? Why?

    • We will receive 100 fold in many things: houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, field and …. persecutions - WHAT?!

      • Perhaps what Jesus is referring to here is the church - eternal life is not about what comes after death but the Kingdom of God

      • Will not all our houses be shared, will not all people be our brothers and sisters, will we not raise our children as family village and when we live like that - others will persecute us.

      • “If a gospel is preached without opposition, it is simply not the gospel which resulted in the cross. In short, it is not the gospel of love” Reinhold Niebuhr

Thoughts and Questions

  • How do you address the human nature of Jesus? Was Jesus sinless (like Paul says in Hebrews) or is Jesus sinful (as perhaps indicated by only God being “good”)? Can Jesus/God truly know what it is to be human and yet remain sinless? Does our sinful nature and our response to sin define our humanity?

  • We know what earthly treasures are- what are heavenly treasures? If you were to make an Amazon wish list of treasures of heaven what would it include? Relationships, forgiveness, love, grace?

  • The challenge presented to the “man” are also presented to each one of us. How would you respond?

    • what are you unwilling to sacrifice for the Kingdom of God? Why?

Hebrews 4:12-16

Initial Thoughts

  • Hebrews Series

    • Oct 14, Hebrews 4:12-16

    • Oct 21, Hebrews 5:1-10

    • Oct 28, Hebrews 7:23-28

    • Nov. 4, Hebrews 9:11-14 (if not All Saints Sunday)

    • Nov 11, Hebrews 9:24-28

    • Nov 18, Hebrews 10:11-25

  • Hebrews skips chapter 3 and first half of 4

    • Ch. 3 compares Jesus and Moses. Both faithful to the end. Moses tried to lead the people to rest, but they rebelled.

    • Be careful not to fall into the same trap. Don’t fall away just because it’s difficult.

    • Jesus is even better than Moses, and we are partners with Jesus

  • Ch. 4 “enter the rest”

    • God keeps creating, giving us a chance to enter “the rest”

    • We keep denying it. First Moses, then Joshua, then David.

    • Now Jesus is giving us another chance to “enter the rest”

Bible Study

    • Three part summary of what has come

      • Cannot hide from God

        • God’s word is living, active, and sharper than any two-edged sword.

        • There is no fooling God, or putting on airs.

        • God reads hearts and actions.

      • Hold onto Jesus

        • Who knows us.

        • Who understands suffering

        • Who is the High Priest who offers us rest

      • Draw near to the throne.

        • In this way we receive mercy and grace.

        • Jesus’ glory in eternity was won through living on earth and suffering.

        • While we suffer, we may draw from his strength and the glory he already has.

    • “Parabola of salvation”

      • “Jesus the Son traveled from the heavenly throne of God down into the earthly realm, moved through history as a suffering pioneer, becoming a full participant in human experience, and then swept triumphantly back up into heaven where he is seated at the right hand of God.” (Interpretation: Hebrews, p. 63)

        • Jesus’ suffering was not at the hands of an angry God who needed to punish

        • Jesus’ suffering was an act of radical intimacy - for God to fully know the human experience.

        • Human suffering comes because of the disorder that sin has caused. It is not God punishing people for their sin. Jesus, to restore us from our sin, must fully experience the consequence of that sin.

      • The preacher of Hebrews continues to go over this parabola.

        • “The first time through the parabola (1:1-4), the Preacher’s goal was confidence… The second time around (2:5-18), the Preacher’s goal was hope;... On this third pass through the parabola, however, the Preacher’s goal is prayer. He seeks to encourage the congregation toward a bolder and more vital prayer life by emphasizing that when Jesus the divine Son was traversing the parabolic arc he was filling the role and performing the function of a ‘great high priest.’” (Long, p. 63)

        • Bold prayer is connected to deep trust. So there is a parabola that the congregation must travel as well:

          • Confess in Jesus.

          • Trust in Jesus through the trial.

          • Be bold in approaching the throne

    • God’s word is one of judgment and grace

      • Important to remember God’s judgment

      • More important to hold onto God’s grace.

Job 23:1-9, 16-17

Initial Thoughts

  • Skipped a lot, but can be summed up pretty easily. Job has lost everything. He has suffered greatly. His family, material possessions, status, and his health are in ruins. After sitting in silence for an extended period, his friends take turns trying to convince Job why he is suffering. They each hold onto the idea that Job has suffered because he has done something wrong. Job maintains his innocence.

    • “Eliphaz lays direct and specific charges against Job, in an attempt to bring him to an admission of his (supposed) wickedness. Then he concludes as he had done in his first speech- he appeals to Job to repent and submit to God.” (J Gerald Janzen, Interpretation: Job, p. 161)

  • Friends: Talk about God. Job: Finally talks to God.

Bible Study

  • Complaint

    • Lamentation is ultimately an act of hope. Complaining about the way things are implies that there is a way things should be.

    • Complaint/Lament is an address to God. It is not about trying to figure out God, replace God with logic, or defer to another source.

  • Job’s complaint

    • Convinced of his innocence, Job’s complaint is not about what has happened to him directly. It is about God’s perceived absence.

    • Job wishes to lay his case before God. Still confident in God’s justice, he wishes for an audience, but finds nothing.

    • Job’s complaint is about being forsaken.

    • “At the heart of Job's complaint is neither that he is suffering, nor even that God would allow such a thing, but that God feels distant, absent, so far removed as to be unknowable. A longing for a sense of God's presence, for God's attention, is what drives Job's complaint and is its tacit substance. This may not be the easiest of texts to preach. It may be difficult to even read. But we would do well not to leave the text alone, either ignored or left hanging.” (Karl Jacobsen, Working Preacher)

  • Eliphaz has tried to convince Job to submit, but Job will not yield.

    • Job considers such a settlement for peace to be no peace at all. “By strange paradox, the only loyal  act under the circumstances is rebellion… Job’s rebellion takes the form of a prayer for justice… That such an act of rebellion is an act of loyalty is indicated not only by the posture of the hand outstretched toward God in prayer, but by the content of Job’s yearning in the following verses.” (Janzen, p. 165).

Thoughts and Questions

  • The Book of Job does not answer the question of suffering. All it does it deny one understanding - that the righteous are rewarded and the wicked are punished. But really, a cursory look at the way the world operates reveals this to be true. What Job reveals is how we should respond to suffering. It is not up to us to figure out why. These common platitudes are all equally wrong:

    • “God needed another angel.”

    • “God is testing you”

    • “Everything happens for a reason.”

  • Job does not answer the question, “Why?” It gives us a guide in the question of “What now?”

    • “At the end of this week's reading, we are still on the ash heap with Job, but we have learned from him how to lament. We have learned from him how to bring our anger, pain, grief and despair directly to God, even when we feel only God's absence. We have learned from him how to have hope, even if only a little, “ (Kathryn Schifferdecker, Working Preacher)

  • Permission to complain is an important part of good morale. Not allowing room for complaint can lead to rebellion or abuse.

    • Top Ten complaints for bosses

      • No 1. Not recognizing employees’ achievements (Job’s chief complaint is that he is blameless).

      • No 2. Not giving clear directions (mystery as to what Job is to do next. He questions his existence because he sees no possible future).

      • No 3. Not having time to meet with employees (“Oh that I might know where to find him).

    • You can go through the whole top ten list and see what Job is complaining about.

    • Give people people permission to complain to God. Complaint is not unfaithful. Complaint only happens when the complainer believes that something can be done. If complaints go un-noticed, then the relationship is severed. As long as complaints are heard, there is relationship. As long as complaints are heard, there is hope for something more.

Psalm 22

  • Not so hot on why…

    • Jesus Christ Superstar

    • Job

    • Matthew 27:46

  • Lament Psalm by an individual - components

  1. Complaint

  2. Affirmation of Trust

  3. Call for Help

  4. Vow to Praise

  • Heading indicates the tune for the Psalm

  • Complaint (v. 1-2)

    • Doubled “My God” indicates intensity

    • What God has NOT done – you

      • You have forsaken

      • You are far from helping

      • You do not answer

      • You are far off in time and space

  • Affirmation of Trust (v.3-5)

    • 3 – a word of praise, remembering who God is

    • 4-5 – trust. I remember the stories of our past when people felt like I do, yet they trusted and they made it through

  • Complaint Again (v.6-8)

    • A worm – farthest from God (enthroned above Israel v.3)

    • Job 25 – the final speech of Job’s friends attempting to explain his hardship:

      • ‘Dominion and fear are with God;
        he makes peace in his high heaven.
        Is there any number to his armies?
        Upon whom does his light not arise?
        How then can a mortal be righteous before God?
        How can one born of woman be pure?
        If even the moon is not bright
        and the stars are not pure in his sight,
        how much less a mortal, who is a maggot,
        and a human being, who is a worm!’

    • Like Job he psalmist is scorned for his belief in God and told to repent and praisein the midst of his suffering

  • Trust Again (v.9-10)

    • My God (Eli) echoes the beginning of the Psalm but in a positive manner

    • Recollecting God as creator in birth and vulnerability of infancy (4 times!)

    • Infants must trust – they have no other choice

      • How can we trust as an infant trusts? Wholly. Completely

  • Cry for Help (v.11)

    • First actual cry for help – description of God action (or inaction), but no petition until here

    • To trust in God is to ask God for help

    • Asking God to hear and be near

  • Nature of Trouble (v.12-18)

    • 12-13, 16a, 18 Persecution from the community

    • 14-15a, 16b-17 Physical pain and torment

    • I am in pain and the community doesn’t care- they only seek to devour what is left of me – they are already dividing up my possessions and claiming their inheritance, but I am not dead!

  • Petition Again (v.19-21)

    • Do not be far away

    • Amplifies the cry with the personal name of God: YAHWEH

    • Save me from literal and figurative trouble

  • Movement from Minor to Major key

    • 21b – Shift to praise!

    • Psalmist has been rescued!

    • God remembered God’s saving work in the past (v.3-5) and has now experienced it in the present (21b) and looks to see God’s saving acts in the future (30-31)

Thoughts and questions

  • The hurting one needs community – in both past (v. 4-5), present (v.22, 25) and future (v. 30-31)

  • “Why?” is never answered – like Job, the why doesn’t seem to matter in the end

    • Living the questions, not waiting for the answers

  • Jesus’ quotation (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34)

    • Jesus was suffering and in the midst of death and destruction, yet that was not the end- he was saved/redeemed and his salvation would speak for all generations to come.

Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (,@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.