On Tuesday morning the pastors of Lutheran Saints in Ministry gather in Fairborn Ohio to discuss the texts for Sunday.

These are the contributions that are brought to the table.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Readings for Palm/ Passion Sunday 2015

First Reading: Isaiah 50:4–9a

4The Lord GOD has given me
the tongue of a teacher, 
that I may know how to sustain
the weary with a word.
Morning by morning he wakens — 
wakens my ear
to listen as those who are taught.
  5The Lord GOD has opened my ear,
and I was not rebellious,
I did not turn backward.
  6I gave my back to those who struck me,
and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;
I did not hide my face
from insult and spitting.
  7The Lord GOD helps me;
therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like flint,
and I know that I shall not be put to shame;
  8he who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me?
Let us stand up together.
Who are my adversaries?
Let them confront me.
  9It is the Lord GOD who helps me;
who will declare me guilty?

Psalm 31:9–16

Second Reading: Philippians 2:5–11

5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
6who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
  7but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
  8he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death — 
even death on a cross.
  9Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
  10so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
  11and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.\

Gospel (Alternate): Mark 15:1–39 [40–47]

As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate.  2Pilate asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" He answered him, "You say so."  3Then the chief priests accused him of many things.  4Pilate asked him again, "Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you."  5But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.
6Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked.  7Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection.  8So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom.  9Then he answered them, "Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?"  10For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over.  11But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead.  12Pilate spoke to them again, "Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?"  13They shouted back, "Crucify him!"  14Pilate asked them, "Why, what evil has he done?" But they shouted all the more, "Crucify him!"  15So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.
16Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor's headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort.  17And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him.  18And they began saluting him, "Hail, King of the Jews!"  19They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him.  20After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
21They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.  22Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull).  23And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it.  24And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.
25It was nine o'clock in the morning when they crucified him.  26The inscription of the charge against him read, "The King of the Jews."  27And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left.
29Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, "Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days,  30save yourself, and come down from the cross!"  31In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself.  32Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe." Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.
33When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.  34At three o'clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
35When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, "Listen, he is calling for Elijah."  36And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down."  37Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.  38And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.  39Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, "Truly this man was God's Son!"
40There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome.  41These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.
42When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath,  43Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.  44Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time.  45When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph.  46Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.  47Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid.

Palm Sunday Text in Greek

Greek Study Mark 11:1-11

In Luke's gospel, the entry is tied to Jesus' journey to the cross, in fact it's not even an entry as such. The journey motif is present in Mark, yet for Mark the entry is a further unveiling of Jesus' credentials. Mark draws out the messianic significance of Jesus' triumphal entry with a number of observations which reveal His royal status: 
  1. the disciples' act of respect by placing their garments on the colt making it into a makeshift throne
  2. the crowd's respect in laying out the red carpet by setting their garments on the road, along with leafy branches, a symbol of the Royal Maccabean House
  3. the shout of "Hosanna", meaning "save now" and the proclamation that Jesus is the fulfillment of Psalm 118:16. 
All these taken together depict a triumphant Messiah. Both Matthew and Luke use this story in a very different way form Mark.  Luke even changes it – which is unprecedented!

v1 εγγιζουσιν (εγγιζω) pres. "they approached" - present historical tense also used by Jesus in his first words in Mark, “the kingdom of God is near”.
Βηθφαγη "Bethphage" - A village east of Bethany, it's exact site is not known.
Βηθανιαν (a) "Bethany" - village two miles east of Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives.
των ελαιων (α) gen. "[Mount] of Olives" adjectival, of location.
αποστελλει (αποστελλω) pres. "Jesus sent" - he sends ..... Sends with authority.
των μαθητων (ης ου) gen. "disciples" – actually "two from among his disciples."

v2 κατεναντι + gen. "ahead of" – lit. opposite,  an adverb of place. 
ευθυς adv. "just as" (immediately) temporal adverb, the use here seems local, i.e. the colt is at the entrance of the village.
εισπορευομενοι (εισπορευομαι) pres. part. "you enter" Given that Bethphage was on the Roman road to Jerusalem, it is likely Jesus has told his disciples to leave the road and go to Bethany on a side road to find the colt. 
πωλον (ος) "a colt" - the young of any animal, often a horse's foal. Matthew and John say it is the foal of an ass, but a Roman reader would read it as a "young horse", an appropriate animal for a king riding into his capital to claim a crown. Mark does not emphasize Jesus' humility. For Mark, Jesus is not the meek king of Zechariah 9:9 but the triumphant king of Zech. 14:1-4.
δεδεμενον (δεω) perf. pas. part. "tied there" - participle serves as an object complement asserting a fact about the colt.
ανθρωπων (ος) "no man" - partitive. "On which no man has ever sat".
εκαθισεν (καθιζω) aor. "has [ever] ridden" - here of sitting upon the back of an animal and therefore "ridden". Remember in Roman thinking only three kinds of people rode horses: Patricians (knights – the Roman upper class); Legates (generals) and Imperators (Emperors).  Riding a horse is a symbol of both wealth and power to Romans.

v3 ο κυριος (ος) "the Lord [needs it]" the "of it", αυτου (gen. pro. = possessive) goes with "has need" and not "Lord" otherwise we end up with "the Lord has need." This states that Jesus is the master of the animal, the Lord of it, which means he either has rented or owns it, if a Hebraic referent, "the Lord God" then the statement asserts the animal is needed for divine service. If attaining the animal was prearranged (i.e. if, as Mark asserts at the last supper, Jesus is a micro manager) then the words are a password authorizing the disciples to take what Jesus has already arranged for.
αποστελλει (αποστελλω) pres. "will send [it] back" the sense is someone brings (present tense) the animal immediately here, ie., to the disciples who have come to collect it. So, the words the disciples are to say to any person tending the animal are "The Lord [God?] has need of it." 
v4 Mark goes into detail when setting the scene; απηλθον (απερχομαι) aor. "went out/away" του αμφοδου (ον) "the street" - usually a village with a number of streets intersecting. The animal is tethered out in the street, rather than in a stable or yard, so it is ready to be picked up, as pre-arranged.
λυουσιν (λυω) pres. "as they untied [it]" - the tense in this narrative is typically present expressing the action as it happened.

v5 των ... εστηκοτων (ιστημι) gen. perf. part. "people standing" -. Note Luke has οι κυριοι "the owners / masters" question the disciples' action.  There are only two reasons Luke would depart from Mark’s received text. Thy are (in order of likelihood) 1) he has a different source so he chooses that over Mark, 2) he has a strong theological disagreement and/or he doesn’t understand the reference or 3) he is correcting a mistake.
λυοντες (λυω) pres. act. part. "[what are you doing] untying" the neighborhood watch at work.

v6 αυτοις dat. pro. "[they answered]" -  Dative of indirect object. 
αφηκαν (αφιημι) aor. "they let [them] go" apparently the answer of the disciples, "the lord has need of it", satisfies them so presumably they are aware of the arrangements, although Mark is possibly making an indirect point here about authority.

v7 εκβαλλουσιν (εκβαλλω) pres. "threw [their cloaks] over" - in place of a saddle. This is a strong demonstrative word, normally used by Mark to describe Jesus’ casting out demons.  

v8 εστρωσαν (στρωννιμι) aor. "spread" - as for cushions on a bench or a bed. This seems to be a spontaneous action out of respect for Jesus.
στιβαδας (ας αδος) "branches" – literally “the stuff of mattresses”. Here probably foliage, but as it is from the "fields" it may well be just straw, or possibly olive branches. Palm fronds are an unlikely, although nice, thought (cf. John 12:13).
κοψαντες (κοπτω) aor. part. "cut" - cut .... having cut. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "branches"; "branches which they had cut." 
εκ + gen. "from/ out of [the fields]" - expressing origin.
v9 οι προαγοντες (προαγω) pres. part. "some went ahead" – led the way - participle serves as a substantive.
οι ακολουθουντες (ακολουθεω) pres. part. "some followed" - serves as a substantive. Some commentators suggest two groups of people, those who came up with Jesus and those who came out from Jerusalem to meet him. Mark is probably saying that Jesus was surrounded by a crowd. 
ωσαννα "Hosanna" - save us now – by this time the word is a common liturgical acclamation and so is not actually a prayer, although Mark is obviously well aware of its meaning as a prayer. By means of the blessing from Psalm 118:25-26, Jesus is acclaimed by the people. The quote is not strictly messianic, so it is unclear in what sense Jesus is being acclaimed. If it is a prayer, it literally means "God save the people". (Barclay).
ευλογημενος (ευλογεω) perf. pas. part. "blessed" The quotation from the Psalm is without a verb. With the participle ο ερχομενος, "the one coming", it serves as the subject; "the one coming is blessed", or "a blessing rests on him who appears".
εν + dat. "in [the name]" - to bear the authority of κυριου (ος) " the Lord" genitive is possessive.
v10 ευλογημενη (ευλογεω) perf. pas. part. "blessed" a nominative substantive, as above.
η ερχομενη (ερχομαι) pres. mid. part. "the coming" - participle is adjectival, limiting "kingdom"; "the kingdom of our father David which is coming." This phrase "the coming kingdom" is an unusual expression for a Jew, although not for a believer in the church.
βασιλεια (α) "kingdom" - The reign of God - domain and dominion.
του πατρος gen. "[our] father [David]" - a strange reference since "father" was normally reserved for the patriarchs.
ωσαννα "Hosanna en + dat. "in [the highest]" literally “in high heaven" so the acclamation is in heave as it is on earth. This is as close as Mark gets to heavenly choirs singing.
v11 το ιερον "the temple" - the whole temple precinct.
περιβλεψαμενος (περιβλεπω) aor. mid. part. "he looked around at
ουσης (ειμι) gen. pres. part. "since it was” οψιας adj. "a late hour" μετα + gen. he left  "with [the twelve]" – how anticlimactic is this? Yet it is consistent with the end of Mark’s Gospel which ends on the greatest anti-climax - an empty tomb!


Whom did he Serve?

Truly this man was God's Son! — an Unknown centurion (Mk15:27)

Whatever we may think about Jesus’ death, the least that can be said about it is that it impressed at least one person in Jesus’ own day. That on person was a Roman Centurion, a man who was commander and sort of father for about 80 to 200 soldiers whose training and upkeep he was responsible for and who he would lead from the front into battle was such a thing needed. He was to be a man of valor, accustomed to take orders, even unpleasant ones, and carry them out recklessly even to the extent of his own death. 
This centurion has spotted what everyone else either missed, denied, was afraid of, or was not brave enough to follow. He had spotted that Jesus was carrying out the will of another to whom he was obedient. He rightly assumes that the other is God. It is unknown if he had heard of Jesus prior to his entry to Jerusalem. It is doubtful that he had since Jesus hangs around Galilee until the very end of his earthly life. So, it seems that Jesus impressed the centurion with his bravery and resolve in dying. 
In life, Jesus has won every battle posed to him. He has met every challenge in such a way as to shame his opponents as inferior while retaining the honor of one who leads a faction of disciples. Until his arrest. Then all things seem to go wrong. His faction disappears immediately. His intellectual sparring opponents, the pharisees seem to have won the day, though they do so by lies and deceit. What follows is a death in shame and dishonor, driven home by the fact that two thieves are executed with him. 
But, on Palm Sunday everything is splendor and honor and praise. This is the Messiah. This is how Messiah is supposed to look. The week that follows brings a quick and drastic turn of fortunes. The centurion may have observed it rightly: Only obedience to something, someone, unseen but of great power can explain it. This is especially true for us who have, in the pages of the Gospels, walked along for the journey to Jerusalem. The priest would say mockingly: “Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.” (Mk15:32) If he is the Messiah, he certainly can do exactly that. If he is truly the Messiah, he will do nothing of the sort. Obedience to the Father in Heaven vetoes the impulse. 
But the centurion knows little or nothing of this. He is Roman and not tied to the silly little games and aspirations of the Hebrew nation that he is charged to keep in submission. He knows shame and he knows honor. He sees and commands Jesus’ final hours and concludes that he is looking at a man as honorable as a God. 
It is customary to meditate on Jesus’ anguish and suffering during Holy Week. How must he have felt? How much did he suffer? What must have been his pain? What must he have thought? There are books out there by medical doctors who theorize about the extent of the pain that must have gone on in crucifixion. “A Doctor at Calvary” has just gone into another edition having been first published in 1936 with the first english version published in 1949. Others have done similar work since then. Most of these, though instructive, have come from Roman Catholic sources. Luther seems to have once quipped that if one was to meditate or concentrate on the suffering of Jesus one was missing the point of the Crucifixion. That makes sense for Luther. It is not how much he suffered that counts it is how much was done for you by that suffering that you, sinner of Christ’s redeeming work, must make yourself aware of daily. 
The story of the crucifixion may just be asking its own questions though. It notes that Jesus is doing Holy week by himself after Thursday night. Everyone else is gone and gone with much resolve, witness the young man who leaves behind his clothes to get away from the arrest scene. (Mk 15:51-52) Is the battle that is going on one that only Jesus can fight? That is a fairly Lutheran colored question to be sure, but it has its basis in the fact that no one human draws near while it is happening. The story might also be asking the question: Where are you? We can use Peter as an example of the lack of faith of the disciples all we want. At least he was there in the courtyard. You? At least he heard the rooster and realized how he had dishonored the will of God and how he had abandoned the Lord on a quest that was not Peter’s quest anyway. At least he went and grieved his failure. You? Anyone? One wonders if Peter heard the rooster crow the first time but could not help himself in spite of the warning. How about you? Is your life without warning signs? But you, you pull up after the first crow, right? 

Do you understand what you have been baptized into? Do you understand what you have been invited to? An internet meme shows a boy triumphant on a bike, hands in the air riding freehanded. The caption says: “I asked God for a bike, but God does not work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.” Oh, how great was the pain of Jesus so I could have this bike — is my sarcastic codicil. No, the question is again about honor and shame: Seeing what you must see in the unfolding story that is Holy Week, how do you honor Jesus Christ? How do you follow Jesus Christ who insists on being obedient to the Father? If you have been baptized into him, have you any excuse not to be obedient with him? Jesus honored the Father by suffering the shame of the world so not to shame the Father’s will. What do you bring to the party? Jesus served whom? You or God? Don't’ let John 13 fool you into the wrong answer.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Texts for the Fifth Sunday in Lent, March 22nd, 2015

First Reading: Jeremiah 31:31–34

31The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.  32It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt — a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD.  33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  34No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, "Know the LORD," for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

Second Reading: Hebrews 5:5–10

5So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him,
"You are my Son,
today I have begotten you";
  6as he says also in another place,
"You are a priest forever,
according to the order of Melchizedek."
  7In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.  8Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered;  9and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him,  10having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Gospel: John 12:20–33

20Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks.  21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus."  22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.  23Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.

27Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say — 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.  28Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again."  29The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him."  30Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not for mine.  31Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out.  32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself."  33He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.

John 12::20-33 Greeek Study

John 12:20–33

20Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks.  21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus."  22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.  23Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
27Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say — 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.  28Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again."  29The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him."  30Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not for mine.  31Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out.  32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself."  33He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.

v20 Ελληνες (ην ηνος) "Greeks" – perhaps Greek-speaking Jews, but Gentile “God-fearers” is more likely in that they come to Philip rather than Jesus, and then Philip checks with Andrew, and then Jesus becomes quite agitated (Gentiles approaching Jesus indicates both, temptation  and a signification that the hour of the cross was near). The point John is making is that they are people of non-Jewish birth.
των αναβαινοντων (αναβαινω) pres. part. "those who went up" – on the other hand mitigates for Greek Jews as this is often a technical term for going on pilgrimage rather than just going up from the low country to the highlands.

v21 προσηλθον (προσερχομαι) aor. "approached” - why Philip? Bethsaida is actually in Gaulanitis, not Galilee, so possibly it's because he is from Gentile territory, John obviously doesn't see the connection.
ηπωτων (επωταω) imperf. "asking" actually “they kept asking him" so pestered or nagged
ιδειν (οραω) aor. inf. "[we would like] to see" the infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "we will." Here in the sense of "interview/converse with." They have already “seen him” and now want to talk with him.

v23 εληλυθεν ηωρα "the hour has come" - the time of his dying is near.  So the coming of the Gentiles triggers this response which indicates (maybe) that his work with and in Israel is complete and now he must turn toward the lost. But this ministry is not directly his, rather a ministry of the Spirit through his disciples and the church, so it is time for him to leave - the hour has come. 
ινα  subj. "so that. an epexegetic clause explaining the "hour".
υιος του ανθρωπου "the Son of man" - John's usage of Daniel's "Son of Man", the 
is slightly different from the synoptics. John sees him as "the heavenly Man incarnate, whose glory is achieved through humiliation."
δοξασθη (δοξαζω) aor. pas. subj. "glorified" - For John Christ is glorified in his crucifixion. 

v24 εαν μη + subj. "unless" - introducing a negated conditional clause, 3rd. class, where the condition has the possibility of coming true.
ο κοκκος (ος) "a seed" – though there is a definite article, the phrase is most likely representative. It is possible that the definite article is used to indicate that the seed represents Christ. 
του σιτου (ος) gen. "of wheat" (edible grain). genitive modifying "seed". "In rabbinic literature, the kernel of wheat is often used as a symbol of the resurrection.
πεσων (πιπτω) aor. part. "falls" - participle modifying "kernel of wheat".

v25 ο φιλων pres. part. "the man who loves " – literally “the one fond of the life”. The parallel in Mark 8:35 has "the person who wishes to save their life will lose it". Here the "lose" is not future tense but present continuous, so losing/destroying right now. The synoptics, as well as John, use "soul" in the sense of a person's real living self as opposed to their fleshly self. 
ο μισων (μισεω) pres. part. "the man who hates" – literally the one hating. the man whose priorities are right has such an attitude of love for the things of God it makes the affairs of this life appear hateful by comparison. As with the Synoptics, there is little in the context to explain how this disdain works out in practice. Discipleship seems the obvious allusion, but when applied we immediately find ourselves in a works righteousness frame. 
φυλαξει (φυλλασσω) fut. "will keep it" - preserve.

v26 εαν + subj. "if" - a conditional clause, 3rd. class, where the condition has the possibility of coming true; "if, as may be the case, [anyone serves me], then [let him follow me."
διακονη/ (διακονεω) subj. "serves" What this service is to Christ John says is
ακολουθειτω (ακολουθεω) imp. "must follow" - following involves being where Christ is. 
τιμησει (τιμαω) fut. "will honor" - this honor is undefined, but may have to do with "vindication" of those persecuted for His sake. 

v27 η ψυχη (η) "heart" – literally “soul/life” so "Now comes my hour of heart-break"
τεταρακται (ταρασσω) perf. pas. "is troubled" – agitated, shocked, fearful, horror struck. at the reality of the cross. 
ειπω (λεγω) aor. subj. "[what] shall I say" - [a deliberative subjunctive. the verb is ` important here; Jesus doesn't say "what shall I choose?"
σωσον (σοζω) aor. imp. "save" - best understood in the terms of Jesus musing over what he should pray. Often treated as a question, but best understood as his prayer; "What am I to say? The removal of the cup, an alternate way to the cross, is a powerful temptation.
αλλα "no" – (but) a strong adversative, the he same construction can be seen in "lead us not into temptation αλλα but deliver us from evil".

v28 δοξασον (δοξαζω) aor. imp. "glorify" - the divine answer states that the Father's name has been glorified in the revelation of Jesus' life and will be further glorified in the lifting up of His servant. 

v29 ο ... εστως (ιστημι) perf. part. "that was there" - participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "crowd".
ακουσας (ακουω) aor. part. "[and] heard it" - as above, although it may be treated as temporal; "when they heard the sound, the people standing by said it had …
γεγονεναι (γινομαι) perf. inf. "it had [thundered]" - the infinitive forms a dependent statement of direct speech expressing what the crowd said. They all heard something, a voice, thunder (which is used to express the power of God and often associated with theophany).
λαλαληκεν (λαλεω) perf. "[and angel] has spoken" - On a number of occasions in the Old Testament the Angel of the Lord speaks with Israel's great ones, cf. Gen.21:7, 22:11, 2King.1:15. Calvin noted that the crowd's failure to recognize God's voice (some think it is thunder, others think it is an angel) is paralleled by people's response to the gospel today; "may are as cold toward the teaching as if it came only from a mortal man, and others think God's Word to be a barbarous stammering, as if it were nothing but thunder."

v30 δι (δια) + acc. "[this voice was] for [your] benefit [not mine]" - expressing cause/reason; "on account of, for the sake of." Most commentators note the problem posed by the Father speaking for the benefit of the crowd, and then the crowd unable to identify the source of the voice. It was obviously only a word for those with ears to hear.

v31 του κοσμου (ος) gen. "[judgment] on the world" - the genitive is taken as verbal, objective, "now is the time that sentence is being passed upon this world",  or adjectival, possessive, "now is the world's judgment-day". 
εκβληθησεται (εκβαλλω) fut. pas. "will be cast [out]" - the Synoptics use the image of cast into outer darkness which may be what John has in mind. A number of commentators note that Jesus' pronouncement of judgment on the world and Satan doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the discourse. 

v32 καγω "and I" εαν + subj. "when" - if. a conditional clause, 3rd. class. The majority of these conditional clauses do not indicate the fulfilment of the condition, so it is assumed that the condition has the possibility of being fulfilled; "if, as may be the case, 
υψωθω (υψοω) aor. pas. subj. "I am lifted up" - purposely ambiguous. In one sense Christ is lifted up εκ "from (= separation) the earth as he is lifted up on the cross. So "lifted up" refers to crucifixion and death. In another sense Christ is lifted from the earth as one who is lifted up to heaven and enthroned, so "lifted up" as in glorification.
ελκυσω (ελκυω) fut. "I will draw" – literally drag- the purpose of Christ's "lifting up" is to draw 
παντας (πασ, πασα, παν) adj. "everyone" – perhaps “who are his flock" Universalism can be argued from this verse, but this is opposed elsewhere in the gospel. It might be a reference to “all” as in Gentiles and Jews without distinction.

v33 σημαινων (σημαινω) pres. part. "to signify" - participle is adverbial, expressing the intended purpose of Jesus' words in 32.
ποιω dat. pro. "the kind of [death]" - dative is instrumental.

αποθνησκειν (αποθνησκω) pres. inf. "[he was going] to die" -the infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "he was about. This phrase is repeated regarding Peter in chapter 21 of John

Eternal Life Revisited

The fifth kind is the worship of contrition and confession. As sinners we worship God, and prostrate ourselves before Him, needing His forgiveness, as it becomes servants. This happens in three ways. A man may be sorry out of love, or lest he should lose God's benefits, or for fear of chastisement. The first is prompted by goodness and desire for God himself, and the condition of a son: the second is interested, the third is slavish. — John of Damascus 

It is time for a transition in the Gospel of John. We are done with the miracles. We are done with holding the crowd spellbound. We are done arguing with the authorities. Three years seem to have elapsed between the cleaning of the temple, the wedding in Cana, and the visit of Nicodemus. Three years and the cold words of John 1:11 are still true: His own did not receive him, his own do not honor him. That which was made through him still does not recognize him.
Honor will never come. That is only somewhat true. From the world there will be nothing. True honor will come but it will come from God. Father will glorify the Holy name by what will be accomplished in the Son by the Spirit. God will be glorified and by that the Son of Man will be glorified. The Son gives honor to Father, the Father glorifies the Son, and the Spirit testifies to it, and those who are of water and Spirit somehow understand this mystery. 
The world, a dismissive term in John, will give honor and glory by its own counsel. The world will see that the honor it gives is being judged as dust. True honor is to give life, not to take it. (12:24) True honor is given by the Father in heaven who honors Jesus by Resurrection because this Jesus has given his life as a resume for many. He is the Passover Lamb who gave his blood to signal the angel of eternal death: “do not enter here.” He is the passover lamb, no bone broken, whose body will give the new Israel strength to make the journey out of bondage in a world of hardened hearts. Those who want to truly leave Egypt rejoice. Those who like the fleshpots of Egypt are revolted. (6:56-58)
Death and Jesus have met. They met at the tomb of Lazarus. It did not go well for death that day. Once the mystique of death is dispelled, once the veil is pulled back and it is seen that there is no end if God wishes otherwise, little is left. The Greeks: Did they hear this and realize what was loose in the world? Is that why they wish for Jesus? We know no more of them than that they showed up and wanted to see Jesus. At their arrival Jesus proclaims that the time has come. Are they intellectually curious? Or is this a genuine longing to believe?
The Lazarus story hangs heavy over this text still as it is mere verses away from it. It asks difficult questions: Believers die just as the most vile of those who live for this world only. What is this eternal life good for? Jesus says that it is like wheat. It does not die when it is buried in the ground. It does not remain there. It bears much fruit and in doing so, it gives life. It is not too much to suppose that at the grain’s death it is most alive. Those who die — let us not even talk of martyrs here — those who change life so radically that their old self is “dead” but are alive in the Lord and in service to the Lord are the most alive precisely when they are in the process of giving up their life because that that moment they are embracing the will of the Father and they are leaving the world behind. Eternal life is a present reality. 
In other words, Eternal life gives life. One of the modern questions in the Ignatian Examen of Conscience asks: “When have I been on the side of life today and when have I given life to another?” Most of us will struggle with this question if we are honest. It is not so much that we are on the side of death. That would be obvious to anyone and 99.9% of us would avoid it on a normal day. No, the problem is that we are not actively on the side of life. It is not so much that we hide from the light as the world in the scheme of John would, but that we do not shine it or actively seek it. Those who advocate to seek again the fleshpots of Egypt are not held back or discouraged by those who offer no opinion. They are instead opposed by those who would have freedom and who settle for no less. 
This life by water and Spirit is lively and active participation. It is not a simple drift-along. St Thomas can say: “Let us go with him that we may at least die with him,” (Jn 11:16) but he merely goes along. Jesus is going to be active. Something will happen when he arrives.

And though he is the Lamb led to the slaughter, he does not merely go to die. No, in John he is going with purpose and resolve. (Jn 12:27) He will, as he did in the case of Lazarus, go to be on the side of eternal life and he will draw many to himself and to that life doing so. This grain does fall into the ground with the expressed purpose to give fruit. Those who follow him, will they fall into the ground able to say: “This life of mine that I now hand back has given life?” It is an aspiration worthy of the Lord. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Texts for March 15th, 2015, the Fourth Sunday in Lent

First Reading: Numbers 21:4–9

4From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way.  5The people spoke against God and against Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food."  6Then the LORD sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died.  7The people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned by speaking against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD to take away the serpents from us." So Moses prayed for the people.  8And the LORD said to Moses, "Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live."  9So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.

Second Reading: Ephesians 2:1–10

You were dead through the trespasses and sins  2in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient.  3All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else.  4But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us  5even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved —  6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  7so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God —  9not the result of works, so that no one may boast.  10For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

Gospel: John 3:14–21

14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,  15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
16For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

17Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  18Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.  19And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.  20For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed.  21But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God."

John 3:14-21, Greek Studies

Greek Study John 3:16-21

v16 γαρ "for" - Expressing cause/reason; introducing a causal clause explaining why God made eternal life available to those who believe, namely, because he loves his creation.
ουτως adv. "[God] so" - expressing manner. Usually taken to mean "in this excessive way" = "so much." God's love for his creation, particularly human creation, was so great ωστε "that as a result" he gave up his Son to the cross.
ηγαπησεν (αγαπαω) aor. "loved"  John is focused on this word, using the verb 36 times in the gospel. He notes the Father's love for the Son and the Son's love for the Father, the Son for disciples and disciples for the Son. The particular meaning is dictated by the context, the common thread involving a relational process rather than just expressing feelings. A word like "compassion", may suit. The consequence of God's love for "the world" is the sending of Christ to be lifted up.
τον κοσμον (ος) "the world" - Not the creation as such but rather the world of humanity and human activity.
ωστε + ind. "that" - so that, in order that. Introducing a causal clause, "so that, consequently, therefore, so".
εδωκεν (διδωμι) aor. ind. act. "he gave" - in the sense of "sent" to the cross. The tense indicates a shift from Jesus' words to John's reflection.
τον μονογενη adj. "only Son / one and only Son" - only begotten, one of a kind, unique. John is stressing Christ's unique relationship with the Father. Only John uses the word "son" of Jesus and never of Jesus' disciples. This serves to underline the unique nature of the relationship between the Father and the Son.
ινα + subj. "that" - a purpose clause. 
ο πιστευων (πιστευω) pres. part. "[whoever] believes" - [all the ones] who believe / [all] the believing ones. The participle may be taken as a substantive, understood as a generalizing construction.
αποληται (απολλυμι) "perish" - The natural state of humanity is death. Only God possesses life, and by extension, those who believe in Christ.
αλλ (αλλα) "but [have eternal life]" - Adversative, as NIV.

v17 γαρ "for" - cause/reason. Often taken to introduce a causal clause, "because, for", although here more a clarification of Christ's mission so probably best not translated; "God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world; he sent his Son that through him the world should be saved".
ου απεστειλεν (αποστελλω) aor. "did not send" Used of an authoritative sending and therefore used of Christian mission, which meaning John obviously wants to convey. God's mission, in the sending of Christ, is not the condemnation of mankind, but rather its salvation.
ινα + subj. "to" - a final clause expressing purpose.
κρινη (κρινω) aor. subj. "condemn" - decide against / condemn  either sense is possible. Technically the word is used to offset salvation which is the purpose of Christ's coming. God sent Christ in order to save, not to condemn, although a consequence of Christ's coming is the reiteration of the condemnation already hanging over humanity. Note, the agent of condemnation is God, not Christ.
αλλ (αλλα) "but" – a strong adversative.
ινα + subj. "to [save]" – a final clause expressing purpose.
δι (δια) + gen. "through [him]" - expressing agency; the Father does the saving, through the Son.

v18 ο πιστευων (πιστευω) pres. part. "whoever believes" - puts trust in, relies upon. The participle serves as a substantive.
εις + acc. "in [him]"- [believes] into [him]. The prepositions eiV and en, when used for belief in Christ, probably take the same meaning, although some argue that eiV demands the sense "believes-and-trusts."
δε "but [whoever does not believe]" –here is adversative.
κεκριται (κρινω) perf. "stands condemned" - has been judged. In the "perfect tense the judgment is already past, but the sentencing remains.
ηδη adv. "already" – idiom; now = now after all this waiting. Temporal. 
οτι "because" - Here causal.
μη πεπιστευκεν (πιστευω) perf. "he has not believed" - The perfect tense is expressing "the settled state of unbelievers' condemnation and unbelief",  The use of the extreme negation  μη with the indicative is rare; the word ου is normal.
το ονομα (α ατος) "name" - For the ancients, a person's name represents the person. Insult a person's name and you insult the person.
μονογενους gen. adj. "only [Son] / one and only [Son]" - See v16. The genitive is adjectival, possessive; "the name that belongs to ..."

v19 δε "-" - but, and. Connective “this is the η κρισις (ις εως) "the verdict" - judgment, decision. Some scholars think that at this point in the passage it means "the process of judging" rather than a sentence of condemnation. 
οτι "that" - a dependent statement expressing the content of the verdict. to φως "the light" – is an Old Testament image used to describe both wisdom and  “law and prophets”. God's revelation is light - its enlivens because it is good. For John, Jesus is divine life, and this life radiates a divine truth which gives life. (1:9).
γαρ "because" - humanity / the world) loved darkness  and so preferred it.

v20 ο ... πρασσων (πρασσω) pres. part. "[everyone] who does" - a adjectival  limiting the ο φαυλα "evil ones
ελεγχθη (ελεγχω) aor. pas. subj. "will be exposed" – a phrase used of the Holy Spirit in 16:8. A person under the grace of God (light) is free from guilt and willing to have sin exposed, while a person apart from (the dark) God denies guilt and fears any exposure.

v21 ο ποιων (ποιεω) pres. part. "whoever lives by/does [the truth]" - participle serves as a substantive. In Hebrew the phrase would be "to keep faith". In the Dead Sea Scrolls uses the phrase: "the men of truth, the doers of the law, whose hands do not grow slack from the service of truth." 

εστιν ειργασμενα (εργαζομαι) perf. pas. part "what he has done has been done" - perfect periphrastic construction serves to underline the completeness of God's work through Christ in us.