Friday, May 21, 2010

Pentecost Sunday Year C

Pentecost Sunday Year C and Ordinary Time


Tens of thousands of Christians who aren't waiting for denominational leaders to fix things. They're just getting on with it.
Brian McLaren
Here is a great site with thoughts about the Holy Spirit Moving in 100 words or less: http://www.patheos.com/Resources/Additional-Resources/How-the-Holy-Spirit-Moves-Today.html


John 14:8-27

8Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” 9Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.

12Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

15”If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

18”I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” 22Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.

25”I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

Resources

Oremus online text: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+24:1-12&vnum=yes&version=nrsv

Textweek general resources: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/pentecdc.htm

Textweek resources for John’s Gospel this Sunday: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk24a.htm


Something for Everyone:

Chris Haslam’s commentary: http://montreal.anglican.org/comments/archive/cpentl.shtml

Augustine’s Commentary: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf107.iii.lxxi.html

A sermon by Martin Luther on Pentecost: http://www.lectionarycentral.com/pentecost/LutherGospel.html

William Loader: http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/MtEaster6.htm and http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/wind.htm

Interesting article on worship in the 4th Gospel: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0LAL/is_3_36/ai_n26964923/?tag=content;col1

Tony Campolo: http://www.csec.org/csec/sermon/campolo_4001.htm

Prayer

Most Holy God, the Word of life comes forth from you in the communion of your Holy Spirit. Bring together in perfect unity the people you have redeemed and make us one as you are in Christ and Christ is in you, that the world may believe that you have sent this Christ, the beginning and end of all creation, the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year C, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.
Some Thoughts

In this the last of Jesus’ teachings to his disciples the topics focus upon the issues of leadership that will be present upon his leaving.

Jesus is concerned pastorally for his followers. In part because his followers understand death’s victory. We must remember at this time there is NO victory over death. They look at the oncoming trial and sure death sentence at the end. They perhaps see it as the end of the movment, the end of the work towards the kingdom, the end of their own ministries, the end of a friend’s life, the end of (dare we say) hope.

In the immortal words of Jim Morrison and the Doors:

This is the end

Beautiful friend

This is the end

My only friend, the end



Of our elaborate plans, the end

Of everything that stands, the end

No safety or surprise, the end

I'll never look into your eyes...again



It hurts to set you free

But you'll never follow me

The end of laughter and soft lies

The end of nights we tried to die



This is the end



This is a really creepy song but it captures and tells of the reality that life’s pleasures will not keep death from its work. So Jesus is combating the very real understanding of death’s finality. Jesus offers them this understanding, He “demands that they have faith in him” and that this is more than a request but a necessary piece of participation in the victory over death that is to come. (R. Brown, John, Anchor Bible, vol II, 624)

Jesus is saying, have faith in me. This is a very real living faith that unites them with God. In the victory of resurrection they will come through death’s door to dwell with God and with Son.

And, to do this, to make their journey, they must be prepared. Just as Jesus goes to prepare a place, the follower must be prepared too. (625)

They are to be prepared by doing the same work as Jesus, even greater works. Jesus tells them to ask for great things and he will on their behalf. God will be glorified in this relationship, this conversation between worlds. It seems then that part of the work, part of the preparation is prayer ad continued relationship with Jesus even after his death. The disciple must trust and engage in work, and do so in prayer conversation with Jesus.

The work they are to do is to follow Jesus’ commandments and love him. The commandments are simply to love one another, to love God above all else, and to love Jesus. This is the Maundy, the commandment of love within the apostolic community. A love for one another that mirrors the love of God. Love for one another that spins out action in the world at the same time as it draws others into community. The work of the disciple is to work and to work out of the empowering relationship of love with God - the Trinitarian community.

The family of God metaphor is revealed again in the paradigm of children of God who are united to the community of God when Jesus promises not to leave them orphaned. Jesus reflects that he is going away, but within this apostolic community he will never be far away and in fact will be one with those who participate in the commandment to love. Moreover, Jesus himself and God will be glorified and revealed in the uniting spirit of this community, the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, the perfect love of Father for Son, and Son for Father.

Raymond Brown writes so much better than I:

Jesus emphasizes that divine indwelling flows from the Father’s love for the disciples of His Son. In 3.16 we heard that God loved the world so much that He gave the only Son – if the incarnation (and death) of the Son was an act of the Father’s love for the world, the post-resurrectional indwelling is a special act of love for the Christian. In 2 we found the word “dwelling place” used for the heavenly abode with the Father to which Jesus would take his disciples; here [at the end of the lesson] it is used for the indwelling of the Father and the Son with the believer…in Johannine thought this was now the hour when men would worship the Father neither on Mount Gerizim nor in the Jerusalem Temple, but in Spirit and truth. (648)

The Lambeth Bible Study Method

This Bible study method was introduced by the African Delegation to the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church. It is known by both names: "Lambeth" and "African." This method is derived from the practice of Lectio Divina. The entire process should take about 30 minutes.

Question #5: "Briefly identify where this passage touches their life today," can change based upon the lesson. Find lesson oriented questions at this website: http://www.dcdiocese.org/word-working-second-question

Opening Prayer: O Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning. Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

1. One person reads passage. This person then invites a member of the group to begin the process.

2. Each person briefly identifies the word or phrase that catches their attention then invites another person to share.

3. Each shares the word or phrase until all have shared or passed using the same invitation method.

4. The passage is read a second time, preferably from a different translation. The reader then invites a person in the group to begin the process.

5. Each person briefly identifies where this passage touches their life today, and then invites someone who has not shared yet.

6. The passage is read a third time, also from another translation, and the reader invites a person to start the process.

7. Each person responds to the questions, "What does God want me to do, to be or to change?"

8. The group stands up in a circle and holds hands. One person initiates the prayer “I thank God today for …” and “I ask God today for…” The prayer goes around the circle by squeezing the hand to your right.

9. When the circle is fulfilled, the person who initiated the prayer starts the Lord’s Prayer, “Our father…”

Thursday, May 13, 2010

6th Sunday of Easter, John 17:20-26, Year C

The good news is that God’s power for life is at work in the world. This news contradicts the common assumption that the world, in its deathliness, has refused and rejected that power for life—and that our proper stance in the world is therefore one of fear enacted as anxiety, greed, selfishness, and violence. The text tells otherwise!
Walter Brueggeman
John 17:20-26

20”I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25“Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. 26I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

A Little Bit for Everyone

Oremus online text: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=John+17:20-26&vnum=yes&version=nrsv

Textweek general resources: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/easterc7.htm

Textweek resources for John’s Gospel this Sunday: http://www.textweek.com/mkjnacts/jn17c.htm

Chris Haslam’s commentary: http://montreal.anglican.org/comments/ceas7l.shtml
Some interesting articles on this passage:
Facebook page, have you seen this? http://www.facebook.com/textweek

Lectionary at Lunch site: http://www.csl.edu/Resources_AudioVideo_LectionaryatLunch.aspx

Suzanne Guthrie: http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=2122

Walter Brueggemann: http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj1005&article=refusing-the-deathly-world-of-anxiety


Prayer

Righteous Father, before the foundation of the world, your glory was with Christ the root and descendant of David, the bright morning star. Fulfill the prayer of Jesus: that the world which does not know you may come to believe. We ask this through the Lord Jesus, our Passover and our peace, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year C, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.

Some Thoughts

Jesus is in the midst of praying to God. We are actually in the third section of the prayer. The prayer itself is transitioning from the present to those who believe in Jesus and will come to be disciples in the future. The reading also marks the movement in our liturgical year from the time of Easter to the time of Pentecost so Jesus’ words are timely too as we move from pondering in our regular worship the Easter event to the Pentecost event.

He is asking God to make those who have followed him one. He is also asking that those who come to know Jesus and the Father through their witness may be one. He is praying that they may be one with one another, and one with the Father through Jesus.

This oneness we are to aspire to is to be as is the oneness of Jesus and the Father - to be together one in another. To be so closely united that one is inseparable. We proclaim by faith there is never a time with Jesus is not one with the Father. What would the world be like if we could claim to be so united with one another that we were constantly making decisions and determining our future based upon the intermingled relationship of one with another?

Jesus is praying that those who follow will be apart of the Godly community. And, his prayer implies that if his followers are not apart of the Godly community then it will be difficult for people to believe in Jesus and in God. Our witness to the world is damaged when we are not living in God AND one another!

Jesus then tells God that he has given to his followers his glory. This focus upon God’s given work, this act of worship through living, is an essential ingredient to our unity. When we are focused on the things that do not glorify God we are more likely to be divided.

Oneness depends upon this focus of ministry, this focus of life. This glory which is given, this vision of life only comes from Jesus Christ. So when one sees a Christian living in oneness with other Christians focused on living a life and undertaking a ministry which glorifies God one sees and witnesses God and God’s love for them. As we spoke in previous conversations on John’s Gospel we know that this vision of glorifying God and the life of unity with Jesus and God and one another brings with it the gift of love. We may indeed have love for one another, but the love which comes from Jesus Christ is one born out of his love for God and is able to be enjoyed in the glorious “fellowship of the saints of God.”

Jesus then prays that his friends, his follower, those whom were given to him may be with him and see his own glory. He gives thanks that God loved him from before the foundation of the world. And, that such love birthed the ministry of glorifying, and being one with those who he has come to know. He sees the people he is one with as gifts from God.

If we were so focused on God’s Glory and its work, if we were one as the Father and the Son are one, if we received the gift of love, would we see our neighbors, families, and friends as gifts from God.

It is in this way that the world will know God. It is in this manner of life that the world will come to know Jesus. And, that the world will be able to participate in the life of the Trinity – the community of God.

Question that this Gospel introduces: The nature of ecumenical and inter-church unity and structure is an area of conversation around this text. It is not about that, but the text is used in many of these discussions. It seems clear that the context is a much more organic one than ecumenical dialogues might lead one to believe. Certainly though the dialogues are rooted in this question of unity though.

Truly this last portion of Jesus’ prayer is essential to the life of a community lived within the new covenant. Raymond Brown writes the following words which seem the correct ones to use here as we leave this passage:
It is fitting that th is beautiful prayer, which is the majestic conclusion of the Last Discourse, is itself terminated on the note of the indwelling of Jesus in the believers – a theme bolstered by Jesus’ claim to have given glory to the believers and to have made known to them God’s name. We have contended that he motif of the new covenant runs through the Johannine account of the Last Supper even though there is no explicit mention of the Eucharistic body and blood of Christ. We saw above that the commandment of love, mentioned in the first lines of the Last Discourse, is “new“ because it is the essential stipulation of the new covenant. So also the closing note of indwelling is an echo of covenant theology. After the Sinai covenant the glory of God that dwelt on the mountain came to dwell in the Tabernacle in the midst of Israel. In Johannine through Jesus during his lifetime was the tabernacle of God embodying divine glory, and now in a covenantal setting he promises to give to his followers the glory that God gave to him. In the language of Deuteronomy the Tabernacle (or the site that housed the Ark) was the place where the God of the covenant has set His name. So now the name of God given to Jesus has been entrusted to his followers. The Lord God who spoke on Sinai assured His people that He was in their midst. Jesus, who will be acclaimed by his followers as Lord and God, in the last words that he speaks to them during his mortal life prays that after death he may be in them. (RB, John, vol 2, 781)

The Lambeth Bible Study Method

This Bible study method was introduced by the African Delegation to the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church. It is known by both names: "Lambeth" and "African." This method is derived from the practice of Lectio Divina. The entire process should take about 30 minutes.

Question #5: "Briefly identify where this passage touches their life today," can change based upon the lesson. Find lesson oriented questions at this website: http://www.dcdiocese.org/word-working-second-question

Opening Prayer: O Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning. Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

1. One person reads passage. This person then invites a member of the group to begin the process.

2. Each person briefly identifies the word or phrase that catches their attention then invites another person to share.

3. Each shares the word or phrase until all have shared or passed using the same invitation method.

4. The passage is read a second time, preferably from a different translation. The reader then invites a person in the group to begin the process.

5. Each person briefly identifies where this passage touches their life today, and then invites someone who has not shared yet.

6. The passage is read a third time, also from another translation, and the reader invites a person to start the process.

7. Each person responds to the questions, "What does God want me to do, to be or to change?"

8. The group stands up in a circle and holds hands. One person initiates the prayer “I thank God today for …” and “I ask God today for…” The prayer goes around the circle by squeezing the hand to your right.

9. When the circle is fulfilled, the person who initiated the prayer starts the Lord’s Prayer, “Our father…”

Friday, May 7, 2010

Sixth Sunday in Easter, John 14:23-29, Year C

Michael R. Lomax, The African American Lectionary, 2008.

"In the present, God gives us a 'tour of heaven' to provide strength until we are completely made whole in God’s future. But, while we are down here waiting, this tour also gives us the audacity to hope against hope and to struggle for healing to come on earth as it is in heaven."
John 14:23-29

23Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.

25”I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

28You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.

A Little Bit for Everyone

Oremus online text: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=John+14:23-29&vnum=yes&version=nrsv

Textweek general resources: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/easterc6.htm

Textweek resources for John’s Gospel this Sunday: http://www.textweek.com/mkjnacts/jn14d.htm

Chris Haslam’s commentary: http://montreal.anglican.org/comments/archive/ceas6l.shtml

Some interesting articles on this passage:

William Loader’s commentary: http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/LkEaster6.htm

Brian McGowan (Anglican from Australia): http://www.angelfire.com/journal2/laterallyluke/LLKJN142329EAST6.html

Suzanne Guthrie: http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=2125

Sermon by James Somerville: http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=647

Prayer

Jesus gave us peace. Do not let our hearts be troubled or afraid but send upon all the baptized the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to remind us of all that Jesus said. So may we keep your word and be counted among those whom you make your home. We ask this through the Lord Jesus, our Passover and our peace, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year C, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.
Some Thoughts

We continue our discourse with Jesus’ final teaching to his disciples. We are offered in today’s Gospel Jesus’ response to Judas’ question: how will you reveal yourself to us and not to the whole world?

Jesus’ response is that we, the followers of Jesus, will keep his word. Jesus’ revelation to his followers will in turn be revealed to the world through their action of keeping the word. Raymond Brown prefers keeping my word to keeping my commandment because he believes Jesus is speaking about the Spirit of Truth and its indwelling which leads the follower to right action not the keeping of rules in a works righteousness manner. (RB, John, vol 2, 650)

Jesus tries to explain to his followers, rightly concerned that he will leave him, that he is giving them this teaching while he is with them so they understand. And, that they need not fear because the Holy Spirit, the comforter, the Spirit of Truth, will soon be sent to be with them and to guide them. The Spirit of Truth will teach them everything they need. Somewhat like Psalm 25.5 which reminds the one in prayer that God will, “guide you along the way of all truth.” (RB, John, vol 2, 650)

Jesus then again tells them he is going away but leaving his Peace with them. He will be back, but this is less important that loving Jesus and being apart of the divine community. For in living and loving in the divine community not only keeps one close to Jesus but helps the disciple to see Jesus and the Father revealed. This essential love of one another within the community brings with it a peace and a witness of the Spirit of Truth into the world. I am convinced that Jesus understood that if his followers would live in the Holy Spirit and live in a loving community with one another he (Jesus) would be revealed in glory to the world and that the world would in turn have a revelation of God.

Peace in Jesus’ teachings stems from the grounding and sharing of love born from the Spirit of Truth, like the Holy Spirit itself it is a gift.

The first four lines of this verse are a majestic promise made by Jesus to the disciples he leaves in the world. The peace of which Jesus speaks has nothing to do with the absence of warfare (indeed it will come only after the world has been conquered: 16:33), nor with an end of psychological tension, nor with a sentimental feeling of well-being. Cyril of Alexandria identified pace with the Holy Spirit mentioned in the previous verse; his exegesis is wrong, but it is closer to the truth than many of the modern oratorical distortions of this verse, for it recognizes correctly that the peace of Jesus is a gift that pertains to man’s salvation…peace is one of the blessings of the souls of the just who are in the hand of God…in Johannine realized eschatology peace is enjoyed by Christians even during this life. (RB, John, vol 2, 653)

The Lambeth Bible Study Method

This Bible study method was introduced by the African Delegation to the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church. It is known by both names: "Lambeth" and "African." This method is derived from the practice of Lectio Divina. The entire process should take about 30 minutes.

Question #5: "Briefly identify where this passage touches their life today," can change based upon the lesson. Find lesson oriented questions at this website: http://www.dcdiocese.org/word-working-second-question

Opening Prayer: O Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning. Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

1. One person reads passage. This person then invites a member of the group to begin the process.

2. Each person briefly identifies the word or phrase that catches their attention then invites another person to share.

3. Each shares the word or phrase until all have shared or passed using the same invitation method.

4. The passage is read a second time, preferably from a different translation. The reader then invites a person in the group to begin the process.

5. Each person briefly identifies where this passage touches their life today, and then invites someone who has not shared yet.

6. The passage is read a third time, also from another translation, and the reader invites a person to start the process.

7. Each person responds to the questions, "What does God want me to do, to be or to change?"

8. The group stands up in a circle and holds hands. One person initiates the prayer “I thank God today for …” and “I ask God today for…” The prayer goes around the circle by squeezing the hand to your right.

9. When the circle is fulfilled, the person who initiated the prayer starts the Lord’s Prayer, “Our father…”

Mapping Contents and Themes of Luke's Gospel

Introduction
What follows is a brief introduction to the contents and themes of the Gosopel of Luke. You can download a PDF of this teaching here.

One volume or two?
Like many scholars it is my belief that the Gospel of Luke is the first volume of a two volume work. Luke's Gospel and Acts take up more than 1/3 of the New Testament, so this particular Gospel plays a large part of our understanding of who Jesus is and how the earliest gentile followers understood his mission.

The prologue to Acts is a summary of Luke’s Gospel, and a great place to begin if you are interested in the cliff notes.

Luke Timothy Johnson writes, “The volumes are joined by an intricate skein of stylistic, structural and thematic elements which demonstrate convincingly that the same literary imagination was at work in both.” (LTJ, Luke, I)

Who wrote this Gospel?
Luke, follower of Jesus and partner with Paul, is the person identified in the work of patristic writers, (earliest Christian theologians) and in the letters of Philemon (24), Colossians (4.14) and 2 Timothy (4.11).

Early collections of Christian writings, like the Muratorian Canon, also mention that Luke traveled with Paul. For instance:

“The third gospel according to Luke. After the ascention of Christ, Luke, whom Paul had taken with him as an expert in the way (teaching), wrote under his own name and according to his own understanding. He had not, of course, seen the Lord in the flesh, and therefore he begins to tell the story from the birth of John on, insofar as it was accessible to him” (Muratorian Canon lines 3-9)

The “we” passages in Acts, are written from a first person perspective. This leads many to believe they are written from the vantage point of an eye witness, leading credence to the idea that the author traveled with Paul. These passages are: Acts 16:10-17, 20:5-15, 21:1-18, 27:1-28:16. (LTJ, Luke, 2)

Some say that would make the author too old. There is nothing to preclude a person from having traveled with Paul at age 20 in the year 50, to writing the Gospel in the year 80. Most mainstream scholars place the date of the Gospel of Luke around 70-80.

Some scholars question why Luke doesn’t include the letters of Paul or mention their existence in Acts. Still others aren’t so sure that there are not remnants of the Gospel of Luke in the Pauline letters.

Where do we get the tradition that Luke was a doctor? Eusebius thought he was a doctor from Antioch. And, Col 4, 14, Phlm 24, II Tim 4:11 testify that he was the beloved physician.

To Whom is Luke writing?
Both Luke and Acts are written for the same reader, Theophilus. Scholars believe that Theophilus might have been a new Gentile Christian or the benefactor of the two literary masterpieces. In my mind what is clear is Luke's intent on instructing those who follow Jesus. I have always believed that this reason is why Luke makes a wonderful first Gospel to read as it can help anyone come into contact with Jesus and provide direction and instruction on living a life that follows Jesus.

Luke is well educated, as his arguments and structure within the text demonstrate. He is most certainly a Greek – speaking author, and writing for a Greek – speaking reader. Leading us to believe his community was most likely very similar.

His first readers were Christians. As it says in 1.4, Luke is writing to confirm teachings already held by his readers.

Most of all Luke was a story teller. His intent is story telling, to tell the story of Jesus. He weaves a wonderful tapestry of conversations, events, and miracles along the way to Jerusalem. Luke is certainly an apologetic writer on behalf of the Gentiles. His view of the Empire is also without malice. This gives the tale quite a different reading than Mark’s Gospel for instance for instance.

Some recent scholarship invites speculation that perhaps Luke was writing not only an apology for Christians in general but an apology for Paul’s ministry specifically.


Prophetic Theme
Luke has a prophetic message for the Christian church today. Luke’s Gospel shows a Jesus lifting up the eyes of the people (mostly Gentiles) to see the coming kingdom and to prepare and work for its coming. In the midst of our own worries and church struggles we too need to have our eyes lifted up to the work of God in the restoration of creation.

The prologue leads into the first major section of the Gospel 1:5-4:13. This section moves through the historical antecedents: announcements of the birth of John to the baptism of Jesus, Jesus’ ancestry and his temptation. This section sets the stage that Jesus is himself the one prophesied, the Son of Man, to come and bring the Kingdom of God.

The second section of the Gospel is from 4:14-9:50, it is Jesus' ministry and mission to Galilee. These healings and this action move the reader from the first recognition of the disciples to the confession of Peter the second passion prediction. It also holds major teaching moments on topics such as the Sabbath, the sermon on the plain, and the parable of the sower. This is a very rich section.

The third section is from 9:51-13:30, and it is marked by Jesus beginning his journey to Jerusalem. We have the sharing of mission with the disciples in this section and sending out of the 70. This section holds a number of teachings on the nature of discipleship. Guidance on preparation for the judgment are given by Jesus to both disciples and people alike.

The fourth main section is 13:31-19:27, begins after the teaching to disciples and people and we see a marked and steady march to Jerusalem. This section has the most Lukan material. And, it is in this section that we see Luke’s particular vision of Jesus and how he lays the stage for the story of Acts. It is a major teaching section on discipleship with material dealing with: Jesus need to go to Jerusalem, sitting at table, parables of tower-builder and warrior, parables of lost sheep and lost coin, and the two sons, instructions on attitudes towards earthly goods, the parable of the unjust householder, how to deal with offense, reconciliation, faith, obligation and the blessing children. This section concludes with Zacchaeus almost as an exclamation point to the whole section on discipleship.

The fifth section is 19:28-24:53 where we arrive at Jerusalem and we see the actions unfold as prophesied. We have the last supper and arrest on the Mount of Olives, to the account of the crucifixion and the Easter message of the empty tomb. This last section sets the foundation for Acts. (1.1-1.14)

The Prophets
The Gospel of Luke is a book about the Holy Spirit. It is about the prophetic voice of Jerusalem foretelling through the power of the Holy Spirit the coming of the Messiah, the Son of Man. It is the story of how the Holy Spirit brings about the history of Jesus, who himself will be a great prophet of the Kingdom of God, and who will provide the Holy Spirit that those who follow him may work for the realization of the Kingdom of God in this world.

The apostles are seen as prophetic, these first followers of Jesus are men of the Holy Spirit, filled and empowered to be bold in their proclamation of the Good news and the Word of God. They are witnesses. They work signs and wonders themselves. They preach and perform these wonders among the people.

Jesus is a prophet like Moses. Luke makes major changes in the Joel quote from Peter in Acts (Acts 2:17-21). The changes he makes to Joel 2:28-32 in Peter’s speech. These changes are: after these things in Joel to in these last days. This appears to define the Pentecost moment as an eschatological event in and of itself. He adds the words, “and they shall prophesy” in verse 18, accentuating the prophetic character of the Spirit. And, he adds the words “sings on the earth below” in verse 19, tapping in to the signs and wonder imagery of Luke and in keeping with the idea that with Jesus’ birth a major event occurs that begins the revelation and realization of the kingdom of God in this world.

Luke hangs a great deal of this idea that Jesus himself was a great prophet upon the a passage from Deut 34:10-12. For Luke he believes that this particular passage reveals to the faithful that the the Holy Spirit is speaking specifically of Jesus. There has not arisen a prophet since, or in Israel, like Moses, whom the lord knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt…and for all the mighty power and all the great and terrible deeds which Moses wrought in the sight of all the people.

The people of Luke's time were people in expectation. They believed that God was going to “raise up a great prophet.” Luke recognizes Jesus as the great prophet and his resurrection takes on even greater meaning in this light. We see Peter in Acts 2:22-24 referring to Jesus in just this way:

“Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through him in your midst….this Jesus you crucified…but God raised him up.” (LTJ, Luke, 18)

If we hold on to this idea that Jesus is like Moses in the eyes of Luke and we turn again to Acts 7:35-37 we see perhaps a view of the parallel of lives lived.

“This Moses, whom they refused, saying “who made you ruler and judge?” God sent as both ruler and deliverer by the hand of the angel that appeared to him in the bush. He led them out, having performed wonders and signs in Egypt and at the Red Sea an in the wilderness for forty years. This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, “God will raise up for you a prophet from your brethren as he raised me up.” (LTJ, Luke, 18ff)

We cannot know if Luke’s idea of who Jesus was informed his idea of Moses, or the other way around. What is clear is the powerful imagery being used in the telling of this Gospel story for the purpose and empowerment by the Holy Spirit of God’s church.

What is important is the reality that in the Gospel of Luke we have a pattern of authority rooted in the Holy Spirit that follows the succession pattern of Moses. Jesus is a prophet like Moses. Jesus was not simply raised up because he was chosen; Jesus for Luke is the Lord of the Resurrection. Moses received and gave the living words to the people, but Jesus receives the Holy Spirit from God and pours it out on his followers. (LTJ, Luke, 20).

Other Themes
The Prophetic theme is not the only theme in the Gospel. Luke has a positive understanding of the world and history, the lost, the word of God, and conversion.

Affirmation of the World
To affirm the world and culture is not to mean that everything goes. The prophetic imagery leads to very clear religious expectation on social values. We see this especially in the section on discipleship and teaching about how to live life as a prophet of Jesus. (Third and fourth section described above.) Luke pays attention to women, outsiders of all kinds, the poor, and those in need.

The Lost
The prophetic work of the kingdom and its partners in ministry, their lives, and discipleship living in Luke is not given for the destruction of the wicked – but for the saving of the lost. Luke amplifies more than any other gospel the sense that this is Good News. Jesus is philosopher and king, he is savior too, bringing salvation, through signs and saving acts. This theme of salvation, the saving of the lost, is the theme of parables after the teachings on discipleship and daily living. Why do we do these things? To find the lost, comes the answer.

Word of God leads to Conversion
The Word of God is powerful in Luke’s Gospel. It is alive in the people and in their prophetic actions, and in the prophetic actions of Jesus.

Conversion and the disciples’ response are the last two major themes. “God’s restored people answer the challenge of his visitation with fruits worthy of repentance (Luke 3:8, Acts 26:20. People who hear the word are converted, by their turning around, their metanoia, literally their facing a different direction (away from worldly values to kingdom values). The followers of Jesus respond with faith, which for Luke is defined by hearing the word and patient endurance. It is not a momentary decision but a journey, it is a response daily. This is nurtured by faith in Luke’s Gospel. And, this work changes the way we live our lives. Following Jesus means that we change our social behavior to imitate God. Luke Timothy Johnson writes, “The opening of home and heart to the stranger is explicitly connected to the theme of accepting or rejecting the prophet. Luke provides concrete examples of the proper response of hospitality in Luke 10:38 and Acts 16. In the same way, as the Messiah showed leadership as a kind o table-service, so is leadership in the messianic community to be on of service spelled out in the simple gestures of practical aid.

The Road Map to the Gospel of Luke

When preparing to read through a Gospel it is good to see the landscape of the text. Here is a great road map to see the journey of Jesus and his followers through the Gospel of Luke.

The sections are according to Luke Timothy Johnson (Luke, Sacra Pagina, 1991.)
Descriptions by Werner George K├╝mmel (Introduction to New Testament, trans. Kee, 1973.)

The prologue
1:5-4:13
Chs. 1-2: names and places of origin of Jesus; genealogy of Jesus (1:1¬17); birth and naming of Jesus (1:18-25); homage of the Magi in Bethlehem (2: 1-12); flight to Egypt (2: 13-15); slaughter of the children in Bethlehem (2: 16-18 ); return from Egypt and residence in Nazareth (2: 19-23). 3: 1-4: 16: preparation for the activity of Jesus: John the Baptist (3 :1-12); baptism of Jesus (3:13-17); temptation of Jesus and residence in Capernaurn (4:1¬3) .

The second section
4:14-9:50
4:17-16:20. After the account of the call of Jesus' first disciples (4: 18-22) and his first teaching and healing activity (4:23-25), portrayal of his action through word (5-7: sermon on the mount) and act (8-9): ten miracles, interrupted by conversations (8: 18¬22; 9:9-17): healing of the leper (8:1-4); healing of the servant of the official from Capernaum (8: 5-13), of Peter's mother-in-law and of many sick (8: 14-17); dismissal of unsuitable followers; stilling the storm (8 :23-27); healing the Gadarene demoniac (8:28-34), of a lame man (9:9-13); question of fasting (9:14-17); healing of Jairus' daughter and of the hemorrhaging woman (9:18-26), of two blind men (9:27-31), and of a mute demoniac (9:32-34).


The third section
9:51-13:30
Conversations follow in Chs. 11 and 12, framed by the discourses of Chs. 10 and 13 and introduced by a new description of the teaching and healing work of Jesus (9:35-38). Sending out of the twelve and address to the disciples: instructions for the mission; words concerning the fate of the disciples; warning about fearless confession and suffering (10: 1-11:1); Jesus and the Baptist (11: 2-19); pronouncement of woe on the cities of Galilee (11:20-24); shout of joy and summons of the Savior (11:25-30); conflict conversations with the Pharisees (Sabbath conflict; defama¬tion of Jesus as being in league with Beelzebub, demand for signs) 12:1-45; the true relatives of Jesus 12:46-50; seven parables of the kingdom of God (Sower, with explanation; mustard seed, leaven; treasure; pearl; fishnet) 13 :1-30.

The fourth section
13:31-19:27
Jesus’ rejection in Nazareth is found in (13:31-58). Then follows a series of reports which show Jesus as itinerant, beginning and ending with the question who Jesus is (14: 1-16 :20) : Herod's opinion about Jesus (14: 1-2); arrest of the Baptist (14:3-12); feeding of the five thousand (14:13-21); Jesus' walking on the lake and Peter's sinking (14:22-23); healings in Gennesaret (14: 34-36); discourse on clean and unclean (15: 1¬20) ; Jesus and the Canaanite woman (1 5:21-28); healings of the sick (15:29-31); feeding of the four thousand (15:32-39); de¬mand for signs (16:1-4); warning about the leaven of the Phari¬sees (16: 5-12); Peter's confession at Caesarea Philippi (16: 13 -20) . 16:21-25:46. First prediction of the passion (16:21-23) ; sayings about the sufferings of the disciples and the coming of the Son of man (16:24-28); transfiguration and conversation about the return of Elijah (17:1-13); healing of the epileptic boy (17:14-21); second passion prediction (17:22-23); question about the temple tax (17:24-27); discourse on discipleship (sayings about behavior toward the "little ones," about offenses, about behavior within the community, parable of the roguish servant, 18:1-35); conversations about marriage and divorce (19: 1-12); blessing of children (19:13-15); the rich young man (19:16-26);

The fifth section
19:28-24
We begin this last section with a teaching on the reward for following Jesus (19:27-30); parable of the workers in the vineyard (20:1-16); third passion prediction (20:17-19); Jesus and the sons of Zebedee (20:20-28); healing of the two blind men near Jericho (20:29-34); procession toward Jerusalem (21:1¬11); cleansing the temple (21:12 f); homage of the children in the temple (21:14-17); cursing of the fig tree (21:18-22); ques¬tion of authority (21:23-27); parable of the dissimilar sons (21:28¬32), of the evil vineyard-workers (21:33-46), and of the royal marriage (22:1-14); question of the Pharisees about the tribute money (22:15-22) ; question of the Sadducees concerning the resurrection (22:23-33); question of the Pharisees about David's son as Messiah (22 :41-46); discourse against the Pharisees and scribes, including seven woes (23:1-36); lament over Jerusalem
(23:37-39). Eschatological chapters: 24-25; destruction of the temple (24:1f); warning signs of the End (24:3-14); the great tribulation (24:15-28); the parousia of the Son of man (24:29¬31); determining the End (24:32-36); parables of the flood, of the watchful master of the household, of the faithful and slothful servants, of the ten maidens, of the entrusted talents (24:37-25: 30); prediction of the judgment of the world by the Son of man (25:31-46).

Conclusion: Passion Narrative and Resurrection Report 26:1¬
28:20. Passion narrative (26:1-27:56): decree of death (26:1-5); anointing in Bethany (26:6-13); Judas' betrayal (26:14-16); preparation of the Passover (26:17-19); identification of the be¬trayer and institution of the Lord's Supper (26:20-30); prediction of the denial, Gethsemane, capture of Jesus, hearing before the high council, denial of Peter (26: 31-75); handing over Jesus to Pilate, death of Judas, proceedings before Pilate, condemnation, mocking, way to Golgotha, crucifixion and death of Jesus (27:1¬56); burial (27:57-61); guard at the tomb (27:62-66). Resur¬rection report (28: 1-20): message of the resurrection at the empty tomb (28:1-8); appearance of the risen Lord to the women (28:9 f); the Jewish lie about the theft of the body of Jesus (28 :11-1 5); final word of the risen Lord to his disciples on a mountain in Galilee: command to evangelize and to baptize (28: 16¬-20).