Thursday, March 25, 2010

Palm Sunday Lessons for Year C, Luke 19:28-40

Luke 19:28-40


28After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, 30saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’” 32So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. 33As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34They said, “The Lord needs it.” 35Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. 37As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, 38saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” 39Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” 40He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”

Oremus online text: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+19:28-40&vnum=yes&version=nrsv

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

Textweek resources for Luke’s Gospel: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk19b.htm

A Prayer:

You Servant, Lord our God, speak the word that all the weary long to hear. Your Son humbles himself to carry the cross that your people long to embrace. As we enter this holy week, let the same mind be in us that was in Christ Jesus. Empty us of ourselves, and draw us close to his cross, that, comforted by his word of forgiveness and gladdened by his promise of Paradise, into your hands we may commend our spirits. We ask this through your Son, the Christ, our Passover and 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.
A Few Thoughts

This Sunday is Palm Sunday. We are tempted to preach on the passion reading. I have always struggled with this ancient tradition as in our culture I often find that it excuses people from coming to the services on Good Friday. Moreover, it clouds and complicates the wonderful readings we have in our Gospel for the day.

We are given for our lesson in year C the passage from Luke 19, beginning at the 28th verse. This passage is reaching towards the culmination of Jesus’ ministry and is often referred to as the prophet’s entry into Jerusalem. Here in this moment we see all of Jesus’ followers hoping for something new, more than likely a return to Davidic rule…meanwhile the prophetic mission of Jesus is unraveling before them and revealing quite a different mystery to behold.

We begin in the first verse with the narrator telling us that Jesus has gone up to Jerusalem. This very first verse is intimately connected with the parable that directly precedes our text today. Neither Luke 19:11-27 or our passage for this Sunday, Luke 19:28-40, can be read alone. Here is the parable Jesus tells before his entry:

12So [Jesus] said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to get royal power for himself and then return. 13He summoned ten of his slaves, and gave them ten pounds, and said to them, ‘Do business with these until I come back.’ 14But the citizens of his country hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to rule over us.’ 15When he returned, having received royal power, he ordered these slaves, to whom he had given the money, to be summoned so that he might find out what they had gained by trading. 16The first came forward and said, ‘Lord, your pound has made ten more pounds.’ 17He said to him, ‘Well done, good slave! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small thing, take charge of ten cities.’ 18Then the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your pound has made five pounds.’ 19He said to him, ‘And you, rule over five cities.’ 20Then the other came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your pound. I wrapped it up in a piece of cloth, 21for I was afraid of you, because you are a harsh man; you take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22He said to him, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked slave! You knew, did you, that I was a harsh man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23Why then did you not put my money into the bank? Then when I returned, I could have collected it with interest.’ 24He said to the bystanders, ‘Take the pound from him and give it to the one who has ten pounds.’ 25(And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten pounds!’) 26‘I tell you, to all those who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 27But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and slaughter them in my presence.’”

As we read this passage we see that Jesus is teaching that indeed he is the one who has the authority, he will exercise it, and he will give it away. As we project this forward we can easily recognize that the great prophet’s entry into Jerusalem will be messianic and kingly. We can imagine that he will soon and very soon give authority to his followers. He will even grant entrance into the kingdom to a thief. This exercise of authority and power will continue to be handed down through the apostles. So we look and see as he enters Jerusalem he is himself entering the distant country, where he will receive from God and claim as his own the rightful place as ruler in the reign of God. He is prepared for his death and to give away the authority to heal and reconcile the world to his followers. As we gather with Jesus on the hilltop, on the Mount of Olives, are we ready to receive the authority given to us? Are we ready to follow Jesus into Jerusalem? Are we ready to faithfully walk with him all the way to his cross and then to Easter morning?

The ancient pilgrim tales from Egeria recalls centuries of Christian practice on this palm day of rehearsing, re-imagining, and re-enacting Jesus’ entry. You can read more about this here: http://www.ccel.org/m/mcclure/etheria/etheria.htm.

We are reminded of Zechariah 9.9 with the colt which is sent for by Jesus and retrieved by his disciples. Again, a simple prophecy but one characteristic of Luke’s writings, reminding us of the power this particular king lords over all.

Jesus then begins to make his way into the city riding the colt, as people throw their garments down before him. Each of us may remember any number of movie portrayals of this image or re-enactments at church or summer camp, in these reenactments and films we are touched in our heart with the true sense of wonderment at participation with Christ in this moment of triumphal entry. “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven! Glory in highest heaven!.” We are here connected to the kingship parable. The crowd is rejoicing in the presence of the visitation of God in Jesus.

As we reenact this event Sunday I will be thinking not of doing something that was done long ago but rather my own celebration of Christ’s eternal presence with us. Christ is with us this week. Christ has been with us through Lent. Christ is present in the life of the church. Christ is known to us and before us. Our Lenten journey is almost fulfilled and thanks to the presence of the risen Christ we may walk with Jesus into the last days of his life, his trial, and his crucifixion.

The Pharisees call out and rebuke the crowd. They even tell Jesus that he is to silence the people. They are objecting to the cry that Jesus is king. As Luke Timothy Johnson points out, that this shows us clearly that they are the ones from the parable “who would not have him rule over them.”

Jesus retorts that even if they were silenced the stones would cry out. He is the king and nothing and no silence will make it different. We may remember God’s promise on the plain to Abraham that the children of God will be raised up from these stones. For more on this please refer to the following passages in Luke’s Gospel: 19.44; 20.17,18; 21:5-6; 24:2 and Acts 4:11. Furthermore, Luke Timothy Johnson continues the exegesis of this passage bring to life more fully the kingdom parable on pages 298 and following in his text Luke.

From this triumphal entry Jesus is making his way to the Temple where he will claim in, cleaning it out, and make it the seat of his prophetic Word. The prophet king has come to claim his people and to offer to them a place in the reign of God.
 
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, March 19, 2010

Fifth Sunday in Lent, The Anointing of Jesus and the Poor

John 12:1-11


12Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5“Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” 9When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, 11since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

Oremus online text: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=John+12:1-11&vnum=yes&version=nrsv

Textweek general resources for this Sunday: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/lentc5.htm

Textweek resources for John’s Gospel this week: http://www.textweek.com/mkjnacts/jn12a.htm

Chris Haslam’s commentary: http://montreal.anglican.org/comments/archive/clnt5l.shtml
A Prayer:

Infinite is your compassion, O God, and gracious the pardon that Jesus, the Teacher, offers to every sinner who stands before him. Gladden our hearts at the word that sends us on our way in peace; and grant that we, who have been forgiven so much, may embrace as brothers and sisters every sinner who joins us at this feast of forgiveness. We ask this through Christ, our peace and our reconciliation the Lord 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.


A Few Thoughts
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him.

We are taking a break from the Lukan journey to the cross this week in Lent as we pause for special material out of the Johanine chronicle of Jesus’ last days. Here we have a meal; probably Saturday evening after the Sabbath has ended (as in John’s Gospel that is from Friday to Saturday). It could in fact be the traditional meal to end Sabbath – the Habdalah. Furthermore, we are told the meal is taking place in the town of Bethany identified with the raising of Lazarus.

3Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

The perfume used for the anointment is myron which is a generic form made from nard rather than from myrrh. Nard is mixed with oil from the storax shrub to create an ointment. All this is to say in the accounts by both Mark and John we should be careful of going too far with the idea of the gifts of the magi being gifts of this type of oil.

4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him)

Judas is identified in scripture as the son of Simon. A little family tree from the New Testament scholar J. N. Sanders places Jesus in the house of Simon the leper. Simon the leper is father to his eldest son Judas Iscarot, Lazarus whom Jesus raised, and then Mary and Martha. Sanders describes Judas as a “masculine Martha gone wrong!” (As quoted in Raymond Browne, Anchor Bible, v 29, p 448)

4But Judas said, 5“Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.)

If we remember that one denarri was a day’s wage. We then can do a little biblical math to understand that 300 silver pieces or denarri is indeed a great sum. This means that we have a lot of money being spent on the anointing. As Browne puts it, “this was a pound of expensive perfume indeed.” (448) It is fascinating to think about the amount of bread this could really have purchased. Interesting comparisons on the amount can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denarius  Today in U. S. Dollars a worker earning minimum wage would earn about $58 and when we multiply that as equal to 1 Denarri we have: $17,400.

7Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial.

There is some debate about this piece of scripture as Mary has no role in the embalming of Jesus.

8You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” 9When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, 11since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

This is of course a quote from scripture, a paraphrase of Deuteronomy 15:11: “Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, ‘Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land”

So what do we make of the passage? Certainly John is leaning on a synoptic tradition that many scholars believe he had some access to, specifically Mark’s Gospel. While there is much debate about whether John and the synoptics are describing the same scene, this seems somewhat to miss John’s unique message in the scene along the way to Jerusalem with Jesus’ face set as a flint towards his prophetic death and resurrection.

Furthermore we can get caught up in the issues that arise from overly criticizing the texts and trying to figure out why Mary isn’t at the burial of Jesus for the anointing, and if she was to save some, why doesn’t she? These questions lead us in a different direction.

It is my belief that we have here THE anointing for his burial. That the tender moment described, and completely missed by Judas and so many of us on our first reading, is that this is in fact Jesus’ anointing and preparation for death. That is it happening in this moment at Simon’s house where his children, raised from the dead, the doers, the prayers, and the rebels all gather together for a meal. All nature of follower of Jesus is here and they are all witnessing a most powerful and incredibly intimate moment. This is as Raymond Browne writes, “the culminating expression of loving faith.”

I am always moved by this story when we reach this moment in our Lenten journey. In part because I find my senses have been tuned to a great devotion of our Lord, and so I am truly touched and begin to look myself to our Holy Week time and veneration of the glorious cross; not out of a sense of rehearsing the past but out of a truly contrite heart’s desire to give thanks for the grace and love Jesus expresses for us.

The moment of anointing stands in stark contrast to the backdrop of a Gospel very rarely focused on Jesus. In John’s Gospel we are constantly being reminded that all of this is for us and for the Glory of God. His goal is the restoration of creation. His work is to reorient our eyes upon God and to direct our prayers to his father who is in heaven. So here in this moment is John and the synoptics give us a glimpse into what our glorious and venerable worship of Jesus might indeed be like were we to observe it with the faith of Mary.

Let us not forget Judas though; it is as he points out an extravagant moment when tremendous amounts of wealth are being literally poured upon a man’s feet. But let us take a few steps back theologically and look at the whole testimony of scripture. We must remember Jesus’ connection of himself with the poor from the Gospel of Matthew, 25.31ff:

34Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

We should  mix the two passages and be reminded that Jesus is with us always in the poor. And that we have an opportunity to anoint the poor with service in such an extravagant manner, not unlike Mary in the anointing of Jesus. How would our towns and cities be changed if we through our great devotion to Jesus Christ, anointed the poor with fine oil?

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, March 12, 2010

The Fourth Sunday of Lent, The Father and His Two Sons

Luke 15:1-32

15Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3So he told them this parable: 4“Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. 8“Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

11Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. 14When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ 20So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate. 25“Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ 31Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”

Oremus text online: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+15:1-32&vnum=yes&version=nrsv

Textweek general resources: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/lentc4.htm

Textweek resources for the Luke’s Gospel this week: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk15.htm

Chris Haslam’s commentary for this week: http://montreal.anglican.org/comments/archive/clnt4l.shtml

A Prayer:

Forsaking your embrace, O good and gracious God, we have wandered far from you and squandered the inheritance of our baptism… Restore us now with the embrace of your compassion, and grant that we who have been found by your grace may gladly welcome to the table of your family all who long to find their way home. We ask this through Christ, our peace and reconciliation, the Lord who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, god for ever and ever.

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

A Few Thoughts  Luke 15:1-3,11b-32

We begin with the idea that the tax collectors and sinners are coming to listen, to hear, Jesus. If we look at the previous chapter we see this is in direct response to the words “let the one with ears to hear listen.” What follows is a complaint from those having a difficult time hearing, the Pharisees. They are complaining that Jesus is eating with tax collectors and sinners.

It is to these accusations that Jesus offers us a parable. I have a friend who believes that it is their charge that he ate with sinners which ultimately brought about Jesus’ death. There are many factors which contributed to Jesus’ death; Raymond Brown’s treatment of the texts in his book The Death of the Messiah seems an important resource on this topic. Nevertheless, I believe most will say that this action of hospitality was one of the most serious and perhaps inflammatory actions undertaken by the Son of God; made all the more scurrilous by the growing popularity of the his prophetic teaching and works of miraculous grace.

In this season of Lent one may very well be led by meditations to ask, “Who is this Messiah who stoops to choose me?” The answer is that it is exactly this Lord that we proclaim. And so we turn to the parable to better understand the meaning of this profound gesture.

I would note first that this is the first of three parables on the topic of those who cannot hear what God is doing in the reign of God. The next one is the parable of the shepherd with the one lost sheep and the third is the parable of the woman with the lost coin.

So we have the wayward sheep. The shepherd leaves all his sheep to find the one. He puts the lamb on his shoulders thereby insuring work for Tiffany stained glass manufactures for decades. Actually, most people may remember that first year bible class or the History channel’s explanation of this very ancient connection to the shepherd Hermes. Regardless of the historical birth of the image it is a powerful one of our theology of redemption and works deep on our mind and hearts as we think of our own lost selves and the good shepherd seeking after us. What is miraculous is that any good shepherd would actually, pragmatically, leave the rest for the one. I think this taps deeply into the real time imagery Jesus is offering his listeners. Were the Pharisees and scribes, the people of Israel themselves, not of enough value to the shepherd? Why wouldn’t the shepherd be satisfied with the sacrifices and faithful people so very focused on the Temple worship of Jesus’ day? The parable though puts an explanation point on the words of Jesus, “I have come to gather up the lost sheep of Israel.” Jesus is in fact illustrating his mission and our own. We are to be like Jesus more concerned with those outside of our safe pasture. Who are those in need?

We can easily echo Jesus’ mission to the poor, the oppressed, and the captives. Here is an example of how God is concerned and we are to be concerned, so concerned that we reach out and find the lost sheep. How often do we come to worship to receive? What would it be like to turn our gaze outward and seek the lost? How might this change our ministry concerns?

Before Jesus moves to the next parable he teaches those who are listening, “In the same way, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven at one sinner’s repentance that at ninety-nine righteous people who do not need repentance.”

The structure of the second parable of the woman and the lost coin is the same as the first parable. The invitation to rejoice accentuates the celebration of the work of our woman and her found drachma. It isn’t really very much, but read what she had to do to find it: she had to light a lamp, and sweep the house. That is a lot of work for a coin that might have been sowed to your wedding garment!

Then we arrive at the story of the man who had two sons. We commonly call this the story of the prodigal son, but this means we are too easily focused on one and not the other. I have often wondered if the more interesting story isn’t the part hardly ever spoken about: what the faithful son does and says. After all, as a full member of the body of Christ, a faithful servant, I am much more like the insider in this story than the outsider. What would it be like to engage in preaching and teaching that focused the church’s attention on the “good son?” Most everyone likes to be the good guy, the one with the white hat in the old westerns, the savior, and the best man. When it comes to bible stories we like to be the bad guy, the outlaw, the outcast, the last man. When we, the corporate we, do this as the church I think we may miss the better half of Jesus’ point.

So, let’s lean into this parable. So we have two sons, one of them asks for a share of the property. He is of course asking for an early share in the inheritance. If interested you may wish to look at Leviticus 27:8-11. He receives it and goes off to a foreign land. He certainly squanders his share, living without control. However, there is no suggestion of sexual excess. He literally scattered his wealth.

Then there is a famine. Our bad son ends up tending the pigs. This is really bad. Luke Timothy Johnson writes:

“Not eating pork becomes a test of fidelity to Torah in the time of the Maccabees. To tend the pigs of a Gentile is about as alienated as a Jew could imagine being. In the Mishnah, raising pigs is forbidden to Jews. The attitude toward Samaritans and pigs alike is captured by the saying of Eliezar, ‘He that eats the bread of the Samaritans is like to one that eats the flesh of swine.’ One rabbi, at least, considered the craft of shepherding to be equivalent to the ‘craft of robbers.’” (LTJ, Luke, 237)

Well after being filled with enough corn husks that he comes to his senses and decides to return to his father and tell him how wrong he was. He has sinned against God and he will only ask for a work, like one of the fieldworkers. Interesting though that even though he requests menial work he addresses the head of the house as father. All he wants is his daily bread. All he wants from the father who is connected to heaven is a small apportionment of bread.

When the father sees him, he runs, hugs, and kisses his son. Now we have extravagant gestures being offered. He doesn’t even have the opportunity to pray and ask to be treated as a daily worker. Let’s have the fatted calf and a robe for this celebratory return.

The son was lost but now found, dead but now alive. Here the son reflects the story of Jesus as a child found in the temple, he reflects Jesus after his resurrection. Today, like the past those who have been lost resonate with this moment.

But while you and I may have indeed had moments of being lost, and will surely have plenty more moments of being lost in our future…we must recognize today we are listening as one who is found. So, it is our story which comes next. Some days we are like the tax collector and the sinner in the beginning of the story, most days we are like the Pharisees and the good son.

It is this good son who is so angry he cannot even go into the feast he is so angry. Notice here the similarity to the other son. He does not come in, but is out on the roadside. The father runs out to meet him as well. He comes out and he comforts him. He feels compassion and pleads with him to enter, this is the meaning of the Greek in this instance (LTJ, Luke, 238).

Here comes the comparison. The good son wastes not a minute in telling father of how he has been mistreated. He feels a sense of injustice and resents being treated like a slave. He has been bound to his father with no freedom. He has played by the rules. And, they never even killed a goat for him. Then he does something interesting, the good son says that the bad son has been about sexual immorality. It seems important that the son supplies something of his brother’s story not supplied by the narrator Jesus. The good son is quick to show how the bad son is completely unlike him and should not be here at all. Here is the parabolic twist for the Pharisee who is complaining that Jesus is eating with sinners.

Here again are the words of compassion equally given to both sons. The elder son is friend and companion who have shared everything in a community of possessions. Not unlike Luke’s Acts where the community of faithful followers of Jesus share everything in common with one another.

So we hear the final teaching of Jesus in the mouth of the father: we must celebrate the lost who are found and the dead who are alive.

I quote from Luke Timothy Johnson’s conclusion here:

“If the first part of the story is pure gospel – the lost are being found, the dead rising, and sinners are repenting because of the call of the prophet – then the last part of the story is a sad commentary on the Pharissaic refusal out of envy and resentment to accept this good news extended to the outcast. The allegorical level of meaning is irresistible: they, like the elder son, had stayed within covenant and had not wandered off; they had never broken any of the commandments. But (the story suggests) they regarded themselves not as sons so much as slaves. And they resented others being allowed into the people without cost. The son refusing to come into the house of singing and rejoicing is exactly like those who stand outside the heavenly banquet while many others enter in (13:28-30). And if this all were not obvious from the wording of the final scene, then Luke’s compositional frame makes it unmistakable: he told these stories to righteous ones who complained about the prophet accepting sinners. (15:1-2)” (LTJ, Luke, 242)

Are we ready for the banquet? Are we ready to rejoice with those who are found today? Are we facing inward looking at the party or outward like Jesus and the Father and welcoming people in? Are we more ready to make up stories about how others can’t possibly be part of us? Or, are we more ready to great them, clothe them, and feed them?

This is a powerful message for the institutional church considering mission and ministry outside of its walls. This is a powerful message for the institutional church seeking to understand its work of welcoming the stranger.

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, March 4, 2010

Third Sunday of Lent

Luke 13:1-9


13At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? 3No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. 4Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”

6Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. 7So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ 8He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. 9If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”
Picture is from the Old City of David, and believed to be the ruins of the Tower near the Pool of Siloam.

Oremus text online: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+13:1-9&vnum=yes&version=nrsv

Textweek general resources: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/lentc3.htm

Textweek resources for the Luke’s Gospel this week: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk13a.htm

Chris Haslam’s online commentary: http://montreal.anglican.org/comments/archive/clnt3l.shtml

A Prayer:
God of Abraham, god of Isaac, god of Jacob, you revealed your name to Moses in the burning bush and your mercy to every generation in the teaching of Jesus. Tend us patiently as the tree you have planted, and do not let us perish. Cultivate us with compassion, and nurture us with forbearance, until, by your grace, we bear at last the abundant fruit of conversion. We ask this through the One into whom we have been baptized, our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, 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.
A Few Thoughts on Luke 13:1-9

This passage comes to us after a series of natural disasters and in the midst of war. Death is a perennial companion with life but in recent months we discover the pain of death that comes at the hands of natural disasters and we wonder as did the ancients do these deaths mean anything about the faithfulness of those who lost their lives. This often comes after considering the feeling of being blessed by being granted life in the midst of such tragedy. Chris Haslam reminds us in his commentary for this reading that both Jews and the Hellenists of Jesus time believe that pain and premature death were signs of God’s “adverse judgment.” We see this not only in Luke’s Gospel but Jesus addresses this idea in John’s Gospel 9:2-3, Jesus rejects the idea that a man was born blind because of his or his parents’ sinful ways.

This then is the context in which we pick up our first verse of today’s passage where in a few who had gathered around Jesus talk about how Pilate mingled the blood of Galileans with the blood of the sacrifices they were making in the Temple. While we do not have a historical account of such events, the story does match in theme and tone other accounts of Pilate’s cruelty to the Jews.

Jesus understanding perhaps their question responds by asking, “Do you think that they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? This response is what I like to think of as the Jesus twist. Here we have a group who thinks that there is a hierarchy of sin and punishment dealt out accordingly, Jesus points out to them that they think this in all likelihood because they are safe and therefore more holy. He knows they are arguing that the violence of one’s death relates to the darkness of one’s sins – an idea that is misused and popular throughout the Christendom of the middle ages and continues even today in some circles of believers. Jesus goes right to the point and is unwilling for his listeners to believe they are greater than or that they sin less or that their sins are lesser so he says: “Everyone must repent. Everyone is called to repent, repent early, repent often, repent now, and repent.” He tells them they are going to die too and suddenly and unprepared.

Jesus tells us of the story of the tower in Siloam, a city tower connected with the wall. Perhaps Jesus is speaking about one of the towers near the pool mentioned in John 9:7. Josephus mentions such a wall near the pool (LTJ, Luke, 211). And, Jesus drives his point home asking, were these people more indebt to God than others?

Next, Jesus moves into teaching mode and offers a parable about the fig tree planted in a vineyard. Notice that while Mark in 11:12ff and Matthew in 21:18ff both offer a story about Jesus and a fig tree, here we are told about how Jesus uses the fig tree image as part of a parable for the explanation of his words regarding the Galileans and those washing in the pool of Siloam. (LTJ, Luke, 211)

Jesus is drawing on very powerful images from Micah 4:4 and Joel 2:22 where it is used as a sign of God’s blessing.

So we have a man who is coming regularly to his fig tree. He was a blessed man, but he comes out one day to find that there was no fruit on it. So, he says “cut it down now.” The vinedresser, the garden helper, says “please don’t. Let’s see if it will bear next year. It needs for the soil to be aerated and it needs fertilizer. Then we can see, then we can cut it down.”

So, we see hear that Jesus is teaching those who will listen that they must repent. They must repent because they do not know what may happen and death may come at any moment. They must all repent. No one has more or less sin than someone else. Repentance is the daily work of the follower of Jesus. It is important and key as a daily exercise not because it prepares you for death but because it aerates the soil and provides fertilizer like the fig tree. Repentance is a daily diet that provides room in one’s life for the following of Jesus and eventually bears fruit in the work with Jesus of bring forth the reign of God.

How is repentance something that bears fruit? Repentance is the act of bring the ego into alignment with the soul and the Holy Spirit of God. Repentance is the taking of a fearless inventory that helps one to understand what the individual’s role is in brokenness and dysfunction. Repentance helps us understand the individual acts we take or do not take that have affects on the wider community. How do my habits of consumption affect others? How do my wants and desires get bruised when I don’t get my way? How do I lash out and blame others when I am at fault? How do I seek to have others give me esteem so I feel good about myself instead of understanding that God esteems me and loves me?

When we as Christians seek to get things in a healthy frame of living we discover that we are bringing in the reign of God. When we change our habits we change the world in which we live.

Luke Timothy Johnson’s words resonate with me as I read and ponder the meaning of this passage. He writes in his commentary on this passage, “…Jesus respond[s] to these reports of death in the city in classic prophetic style: they are turned to warning examples for his listeners. The people who died were not more deserving of death than others. One cannot argue from sudden and violent death to the enormity of sin. Indeed, Jesus himself wills suffer a death that appears to be as much a punishment for sin. But the prophet’s point is that death itself, with the judgment of God, I always so close. It can happen when engaged in ritual. It can happen standing under a wall. And when it happens so suddenly, there is o time to repent…The repentance called for by the prophet Jesus, of course, is not simply a turning from sin but an acceptance of the visitation of God in the proclamation of God’s kingdom.”

Luke Timothy Johnson continues regarding the fig tree parable: “…it is a parable that clearly has the function of interpreting this section of his narrative. The fig tree is not summarily cut down. It is allowed to have time; indeed, it has already had time to bear fruit. The comfort to Jesus’ listeners is that the Prophet is still on his way to the city; there is still time to respond.”

This is an important week to be preaching. This is an opportunity to tell about Jesus’ teaching on tragedy and death brought on by disaster. It is an opportunity to speak about the importance and ritual of repentance which is an ancient and essential practice of Christianity. And, it is also an opportunity to speak about how repentance bears fruit.

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).