Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Good Shepherd Sunday: John 10 and Psalm 23

For Good Shepherd Sunday, I offer commentary on two different texts:

I am the Good Shepherd
A small sampling:
καλος ("good"; 10:11)  Good is an entirely understated way to put this.  The word in Greek means beautiful, ideal, model.  Try any of these out:  Model shepherd, beautiful shepherd, ideal shepherd.  They get closer to what is going on, although model shepherd can lead us astray pretty fast.  Good is also an entirely wrong way to put this.  What kind of shepherd goes and gets himself killed?  A very, very bad one.

Psalm 23
For Good Shepherd Sunday I've looked at Psalm 23.  Given people's emotional resonance with the Psalm, this passage does not call for one's "exegetical underwear."  That said, reading the actual Psalm presents more "earthy" image than the bucolic landscape scene the Psalm often conjures in our minds.  There is wet grass to be eaten, wine to be poured, death to be encountered and God's disciplining rod to be felt slamming into our side. To put it another way, God doesn't simply want to paint pictures, but truly revive our soul that we might return to his temple, time and time again, even in our everlasting life, made possible by the Good Shepherd.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Luke 24:36-48

Summary:  This passage serves as a beautiful encapsulation of Luke's themes.  If you want your mind blown, read this passage alongside of the song of Zechariah from Luke 1.  I will let you have that discovery, but suffice to say, Zechariah's words are fulfilled.  Luke demonstrates literary genius here as he wraps up his Gospel with a few more surprises and a few more Old Testament links...

While this is great for a Bible study, I am not sure if this is helpful for a sermon.  For a sermon I would focus on the sending of the disciples (likely a group of men and women at this point).  We find here the core of the Christian missionary proclamation:
The What:  Resurrection of Jesus and the forgiveness of sins
The Where:  Planet earth, beginning with Jerusalem
The Who:  The disciples
What I find most moving is that the what, where and who all involve very earthly things.  In fact, this commissioning is very grounded in this reality.

Key Words:
λεγει (36, "speak") What is worth noting here is that this word is in the present tense.  Luke suggests that Jesus was repeatedly saying "Peace be with you."  A good sermon is a reflection on the passing of the peace that we offer in worship; it is the peace of Christ that comes about after hell, sin and the death have been defeated, not a wimpy excuse for a "shake another hand time" during church.

ειρηνη υμιν (36, "peace unto you")  As I note in my passage on John 20, English has trouble capturing the force and meaning of what Jesus says.  First, there is no verb.  It simply reads "Peace among or unto you."  Perhaps Jesus is simply declaring the fact that because he is in their midst, peace is with them.  Or perhaps it is an expression of blessing and wish:  Peace be with you!  The other tricky part is the word υμιν, which is a plural dative.  First, the peace is not just for one person, but is for the whole group.  Second, the dative can have a variety of meanings, for example, it could be a distributive dative, meaning that there is a slice of peace for all the people. 

I actually wonder if Jesus is really saying less of a blessing and more of a statement of fact.  Peace is among you.

διαλογισμοι (literally dialogues, "thoughts", 21:38)  The NET Bible suggests this is an idiom (based on BDAG).  The point here is that the literal translation is not entirely helpful:  "Why do dialogues arise in your hearts" seems to suggest that Jesus isn't interested in conversations about faith with us; rather this particular phrase means "doubts."

χαρα ("joy", 41)  The name Kara in English comes from this Greek word, meaning joy.  Joy is an important word in Luke (and the New Testament!)
1:14  Prophecy of John the Baptist's birth
2:10  Angles announcing Jesus' birth
10:17  Disciples discover they can do miracles in Jesus name
15:7 and 10:  Parables of lost sheep and coins
24:41  Jesus disciple cannot believe from joy
24:52  The last sentence of Luke's Gospel
It serves as book ends!  The story begins with joy and ends with the heavens come to earth.

hendiadys; hendiatris (21:44)  Jesus says the "law, prophets and psalms."  By using these three words Jesus means "the whole of the Old Testament"; indeed, the Hebrew Bible refers to its three sections: The Torah, The Prophets and the Writings.  In this way Jesus uses three words to mean one thing.  The fancy term for this is: hendiatris.  (One through three!)

διηνοιξεν (from διανοιγω, meaning "open", 24:45)There are two points in the Old Testament when things are opened using this verb:
Genesis 3:5 and 7 (eyes of Adam and Eve opened as they sin)
Exodus 13  (first born opens the womb)
In other words, this is a dramatic opening.  It is also fitting that just as our eyes were first opened to the painful realities of life, now are our eyes are opened to God's love in this world!

του συνειναι ("to understand", 24:45)  Jesus actually intends us to understand some things.  In this passage, Jesus is concerned about both "head" and "heart."  They mean different things in Greek, but that Jesus is concerned with both "doubts in the heart" and "opening their minds" affirms that God is into the whole person!!  (Yes, learning is an act of worship!)

Quick grammar note:  Greek often puts an article with an infinitive, "articular infinitive"  (του+infinitive in this case).  Because it is in the genitive, this suggests that it is an articular infinitive of purpose:  Opened their minds so that they could understand!

For another day:
I've run out of time this week for my blog.  I'll finish these off below later --
μετανοιαν εις αφεσιν 47  Forgiveness remains central to Luke and the message of Jesus.  Even in a Gospel all about inclusion and charity, the cross given forgiveness is not a side theme!

εις παντα τα εθνη (47)  The focus of Jesus preaching is the whole world

απο Ιερουσαλημ (47)  Jerusalem still matters

μαρτυρυς (48)  Witness.  My mind explodes here.  See my passage on the ascension story in Luke.