Proper 8A


226: July 2, 2017

69: June 29, 2014

Exegetical Notes

Matthew 10:40-42

Initial Thoughts

  • Completing teaching from last week.

    • Comes immediately after Jesus warns his followers that things won’t always go well for them.

    • Feels improper to separate this note of hospitality from the harsher teaching from last week.

Bible Study

  • Hospitality

    • Non-acceptance of the message was anticipated in the previous.  Here, welcome is anticipated.

    • The Hardest Question: Could it be that simple?

      • “It tells us to treat a stranger the way we would treat someone who is a guest in our home—can I get you something to drink. It is a way of seeing the world—seeing all people. It is about seeing the other as one of your own. It is about basic human kindness—it is just being nice.  The ethics of the Kingdom of God surely can have implications for global warming or may be able to address poverty and violence—but first it is concerned with being nice to people.” (Russell Rathbun)

  • Jesus is in all

    • “Underlying this saying is the shaliach conception of ancient Jewish law, according to which a man’s duly authorized messenger ‘is as the man himself.’” (Douglas Hare, Interpretation: Matthew, p. 118)

    • Foreshadows Matt 25:31-46 - the story of the sheep and the goats, where the receiving of the least of these is equated with the reception (or rejection) of Jesus himself.

    • The term “little ones,” is not about children.  It refers to “humble Christians who are not church leaders and who may also be poor.  Such persons must not be neglected or treated with disdain, because they too represent the Christ.” (Douglas Hare, Interpretation: Matthew, p. 119)

  • Context of Matthew’s community

    • This is a word to the disciples, but also to those that would be receiving them.

    • Matthew is only gospel that uses the word ekklesia, or church.

    • “Wandering Prophets” are described in the Didache.  They had certain guidelines to follow to separate themselves from other wandering preachers who were not legitimate.

    • “While all Christians were expected to spread the word, not all were called to be wandering missionaries.” (Douglas Hare, Interpretation: Matthew, p. 119

    • This reflects that even in the early church, the “division of labor” was happening.  Some are called to itinerancy, some are not.

  • 1 Kings 17:8-24 The poor widow receives the prophet Elijah

    • Summary

      • Elijah asks the woman for some water, and she does it.

      • Elijah asks for a piece of bread, and after some resistance due to the fact that she’s so poor she is going to starve to death, she does it.

      • Elijah then stayed in the widow’s home for several days.

      • The son became ill and died, but was raised by God through Elijah.

    • Easy to see the connection between the widow who “received the prophet”

    • Warning - We had a commenter remind us that the woman didn’t so much offer hospitality so much as she was compelled to take this man in. She had no power in the situation. It is easy to read this as a story about hospitality, but that is not really the case.

Preaching Thoughts

  • Could it really be that simple?  Give someone a cold cup of water?  What could a cold cup of water mean to someone? What are the ramifications of having access to clean water, and sharing that with someone - even a stranger.

  • There are  many types of calling.  Some are called to make tents.  Others are called to pitch them.  Being a missionary of Christ is not an easy job, and trouble should be expected.  It is important for those to receive prophets with hospitality and grace.  How often do we simply build silos of agreement?  Facebook friends, Twitter followers, News channels, blogs we follow - all a circle of agreement.  Do we allow the prophetic word to break in?

  • The Little Free Pantry

Genesis 22:1-14

Initial Thoughts

Bible Study

  • Literary context

    • Abraham will be the father of nations whose descendants will outnumber the stars

    • Doesn’t have a baby (with Sarah) until very late in life

    • The name Isaac means “to laugh”

      • in response to the unexpected joy of childbirth

      • in response to Sarah’s doubting the “messengers” of God

    • The second son Abraham will sacrifice - and God will provide for

    • Kathryn Schifferdecker “There is a Yiddish folk tale that goes something like this: Why did God not send an angel to tell Abraham to sacrifice Isaac?Beca use God knew that no angel would take on such a task. Instead, the angels said, "If you want to command death, do it yourself.”

  • Testing

    • v. 1 - Abraham is being tested

      • ancient and modern literature contains themes of testing:

      • Harry Potter and the Goblet of fire

      • Luke Skywalker in the Dagobah cave

      • Story of Job and Jonah

      • Labors of Hercules

      • Oedipus and the Sphinx

      • About any disney movie

    • How do we address issues of God testing us?

      • What does it mean to be tested by God and is this spiritually helpful or damaging?

      • “Now I know” - God has risked everything on Abraham and needs to know he is faithful

      • God is not omniscient- God does not know what Abraham will do

  • Sacrifice

    • Child sacrifice was part of other Ancient Near East traditions. Other Gods require child sacrifice- YAHWEH does not (see Lev. 18:20 and 20:2-5, Jer. 7:30-34, Ezekiel 20:31)

    • This is a story to explain the shift from human sacrifice to animal sacrifice

    • Carol Dempsey - connections between Isaac and Jesus

    • Clement of Alexandria made this connection and views Jesus as the new Isaac, but one whose sacrifice was carried through

      • both were “only sons”

      • Both carried the wood of their sacrifice (Isaac the firewood and Jesus the cross)

      • Theological focus is not on the death but on the resulting life: Isaac is spared, Jesus is raised

      • Ignores the historical context of sacrifice as well as the life and ministry of Jesus

    • Hebrews 11:17-19 - Abraham believed God could raise the dead

  • Obedience

    • Kierkegaard - three stages of faith development

      • Aesthetic - what feels good to me

      • Ethic - what is good for the community

      • Religious - what is good

      • Abraham has ascended to a higher level of faith

  • Faith

    • Are we willing to truth God  and place our future and our children’s future in God’s hands? How?

    • Many love the tune “Here I am Lord” when it calls us to go to seminary or help at a food pantry or be born again - but what about when God calls you to kill your child...that verse must have been left out of the song.

Preaching Thoughts

  • God does not demand child sacrifice

  • God does demand total devotion

    • What is total devotion to God? Love, grace and trust in God’s providence

  • What are we willing to sacrifice for God?

Romans 6:12-23

Initial Thoughts

  • Interesting Freedom implications for July 4 weekend

Bible Study

  • Second half of the argument - Justification and Sanctification

    • Romans 6:1-11 - Justification - we are justified through God’s grace, solely, through no action of our own. By that loving grace and acceptance we are reborn through baptism to live in God like Jesus did. (Saved from)

    • Romans 12-23 - Sanctification - justified through God’s act of grace, we are now able to live lives dedicated to God’s way of love and forgiveness. We are no longer bound by sin, but are able to live wholly and holy. (Saved for)

    • A life of transformation is evidence of grace already received, not a prerequisite of justification. We are justified through God’s grace and, if we accept that grace, then we are able to live sanctified lives.

    • Ted A Smith- beware of a purely sequential reading. There is sanctification in the first verses and justification in the latter verses.

  • Instruments vv. 12-13

    • Instruments (Gk. hopla) refers to the instruments of war: weapons, armor, etc. Paul is saying do not use the weapons or armor of wickeness/sin to protect yourself, but rather use the weapons or armor of righteousness. - Thoroughly undercutting the ends justify the means argument (which began chapter 6)

  • Become a slave

    • What does Paul mean?

      • Slavery- 300 years of racism, horror, social sin and evil - NOT WHAT PAUL IS REFERRING TO

      • Paul’s understanding of slavery is to surrender your life to the control of another and to give your ultimate allegiance, loyalty, obedience, and service.

      • This is very different than those who were hunted, kidnapped, imprisoned, and subjected to the horrors of “modern” slavery.

    • Think of some modern uses:

      • Slave to fashion, work, TV, screens, etc.

      • Who or what are you dedicating your life?

      • Who are what are you serving?

    • Paul’s dichotomy: There are only two things you can serve:

      • God

      • Sin (everything else)

Preaching Thoughts

  • Do we over-emphasize sequential justification to sanctification? Are we so worried about earning our way into acceptability and justification by works that we neglect to invite people into living a sanctified life?

  • What does a sanctified life look like? What does it mean to live a sanctified life and how has this changed from puritan piety to today?

  • How do we invite and encourage one another to live sanctified lives without judging one another’s lives as “unsanctified”?

  • We often use the ends to justify the means. This is never acceptable for God. Paul rightly declares that we should not use the tools of sin, but rather the tools (instruments, weapons and armor) of righteousness. What are those?


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 Paul and Storm for our closing music (“Oh No”).