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Wrestling with the Word, episode 16: The Resurrection of our Lord, Year B (April 12, 2009) March 23, 2009

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The Resurrection of our Lord

Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! The words express the way Christians greet one another on this Easter Day. However, much more than a greeting, the words define our faith and what it means to be Christians. Paul wrote, “… if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain” (1 Cor. 15:14). Everything depends on the truth of what God accomplished this day. At the heart of the matter is the trustworthiness of God and God’s ability to accomplish whatever God promises. In the resurrection of Jesus and in God’s word of promise that we will join Christ and one another, we find comfort and a future with hope. That joining begins even here and now as we eat and drink together in Jesus’ presence as a community of faith. This community consists of all people who believe in Jesus, confess his name, and go into the world as witnesses to what God has done.

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 16: The Resurrection of our Lord, Year B.


Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
Use in Judaism
This psalm is the last of six Hallel psalms (113-118) used as part of the liturgy for autumn feasts and Passover (see Mark 14:26: “and when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives”).

Form: Individual Song of Thanksgiving
The psalm is one of praise and thanksgiving to God after deliverance from a life-threatening situation. The tone of thanksgiving sounds clearly right at the outset. That both a lament and the Lord’s answer has preceded the thanksgiving is stated at v. 5. The answer from the Lord appears again in our verses at v. 21. The description of the distress that pits the “nations” against Israel is understandable from the perspective of Passover but it runs counter to the other lessons for this day (see vv. 10-13). The attention of the verses selected for us is focused on the celebration of thanksgiving following the deliverance (vv. 14-29). Of particular significance for Easter are the words of vs. 17: “I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord.” Then, of course, is the resounding announcement, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Use in New Testament
V. 6. “With the Lord on/at my side, I will not be afraid. What can mortals do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6)
V. 18. “The Lord has punished me severely, but he did not give me over to death” (2 Cor. 6:9)
Vss. 22-23. “The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes…” (Matt. 21:42//Mark 12:10-11//Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11-12; 1 Peter 2:7)
V. 24. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Rev 19:7)
VV. 25-27. “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord” (Matt. 21:9//Mark 11:9-10//Luke 19:38//John 12:13; also Matt. 23:39//Luke 13:35)


Isaiah 25:6-9
Against all the hunger, suffering, death, and mourning of the present age, God promises in the kingdom to come a banquet and the end of death itself, in response to which the people of God rejoice.

The so-called Apocalypse of Isaiah begins at 24:1 and continues through chapter 27. Because of the apocalyptic themes, it appears to be the latest section of the Book of Isaiah. The heavenly battle occurs in 24:21-23, and the victory of YHWH over the heavenly and earthly foes leads to the Lord’s enthronement on Mount Zion. Such a sequence of victory–reign–feast is common in the mythology of the Babylonians and the Canaanites.

Key Words
V. 6. we‘āsā YHWH tsebā’ōt lekol-hā‘ammîm bāhār hazzeh mištēh = “And on this mountain the Lord of Hosts will make for all peoples a feast”: In the Canaanite religion Mount Zaphon was the place of the banquet for 70 gods and goddesses that celebrated the victory of Baal over the chaos of the Sea. The mountain of God’s holiness serves as the scene for banquets throughout Israel’s history. Mount Sinai/Horeb is the scene where Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the 70 elders of Israel “ate and drank” (Exod. 24:9-11). Mount Zion, the home of the temple, is the place where the people of Israel offered sacrifices and “ate and drank” together (Deut.12:18; Ps. 22:26; 116:13, 17). The banquet of the Day of the Lord will be open not only to Israel but also to “all peoples.”

V. 7. billa‘ hammāvet lānetsach = “he will swallow up death forever”: In the Canaanite poetry, Death (the god Mot) “swallows up” the fertility god Baal. In this prophecy, the Lord will have Death for dinner—as the entree.

V. 8. kî YHWH dibbēr = “for the Lord has spoken”: The words of this promise can be believed because the word of the accomplishes what it promises.


Acts 10:34-43
Since God shows no partiality, God sent Peter—one of those who ate and drank with Jesus after his resurrection–to announce to Gentiles that God’s acts in Jesus’ ministry of preaching, teaching, healing right up to his death and resurrection—result in forgiveness of sins for everyone who believes in him.

God had brought together two quite different men for the purpose of spreading the good news about Jesus. Cornelius was a centurion of the Italian Cohort. Peter was a Galilean fisherman who spent the previous years as a disciple and apostle of Jesus. God spoke to each of them in visions. In addressing Cornelius, the angel of God told the man about Peter who was staying in Joppa. In a vision to Peter, God taught the apostle that the line between clean and unclean has been erased. That led to Peter’s trip to Caesarea where he preached the sermon to Cornelius and his household. Thus begins the witnessing to the gospel to the ends of the earth (Acts 10:1—28:28)

Key Words
V. 35 all’ en panti ethnei ho phoboumenos auton kai ergazomenos diaiosynēn dektos autō estin = “but in every nation anyone who fears him (God) and works righteousness is acceptable to him”: The universal nature of Peter’s sermon occurs also at v. 36 “Jesus Christ—he is the Lord of all”; v. 38 “healing all that were oppressed by the devil”; v. 39 “we are witnesses to all”; v. 42 “judge of the living and the dead”; v. 43 “everyone who believes in him.”

V. 43. toutō pantes hoi prophētai martyrousin aphesin hamartiōn labein dia tou onomatos autou panta ton pisteuonta eis auton = “To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives the forgiveness of sins through his name”: Peter demonstrates that God has been in the forgiveness business for the people of Israel through the preaching of the prophets. In actuality, “forgiveness” is relatively rare in prophetic preaching. Passages like Isa. 33:24; Jer. 31:34; 36:3; Amos 7:2 are powerful simply because they are not common. However, in the Mosaic law, a major part of the sacrificial system is designed for the forgiveness of sins, and in the psalms “forgiveness” appears frequently as a statement of what God has done or is petitioned to do. The major point in this verse, however, is that the forgiveness of God that had been given to the people of Israel now extends to “everyone who believes in him.”


1 Corinthians 15:1-11
God (through the Risen Christ, the Spirit, the apostles) delivered to Paul the content of the Christian faith, the message about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and this is the tradition that Paul transmits to the Christians in Corinth and to us.

Paul moves rather abruptly from the discussion about prophecy and speaking in tongues in chapter 14 to a profound discussion of the resurrection from the dead. These verses provide the background for the following presentation on the resurrection of the dead as essential to the faith.

Key Words
V. 1. parelabete = “you received”: The verb tense indicates they received this message over a period of time. In v. 3 Paul indicates that he himself received the gospel tradition but not its source; at 11:23 he reports that he received from the Risen Lord the tradition of the Lord’s Supper.

V. 3. apethanen huper tōn hamartiōn hēmōn = “he died for our sins”: reference to the Suffering Servant at Isa. 53:5, 8 (LXX).

V. 4. tē hēmera tē tritē kata tas graphas = “on the third day according to the scriptures”: The expression is identical to Hos. 6:2, the only reference in the OT to a resurrection from the dead on the third day.

V. 5. ōphthē = “he appeared”: The term is used for post-resurrection appearances; cf. Luke 24:34 (to Simon); Acts 9:17 (to Paul); 13:31 (to the apostles who became witnesses); 26:16 (to Paul).

V. 8. tō ektrōmati = “as to a miscarriage”: The word in LXX refers to a premature birth (Num.12:12; Job 3:16; Eccles. 6:3).

V. 10. chariti de theou eimi ho eimi = “But by the grace of God, I am what I am”: God’s grace defines Paul and assigns him the commission to preach what he had received, namely, the gospel of Jesus Christ. The expression is similar to but not identical to God’s definition of self to Moses, “I am who I am” (egō eimi ho ōn) at Exod. 3:14.

V. 11. houtōs episteusate = “you believed”: aorist tense, that is, a spontaneous act.


Mark 16:1-8
In confronting us, the Risen Christ calls us to respond to the miracle of his resurrection with fear and trembling, even ecstasy.
Jesus affirms his divine authority by fulfilling the promise he had made earlier, namely, his resurrection and his reunion with the disciples in Galilee.

The story of the crucifixion of Christ (15:21-39) is followed by the request of Joseph of Arimathea for the body of Jesus so that proper burial could occur in Joseph’s tomb (15:42-47). Singled out as knowledgeable about the location of Jesus’ body are Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses.

The details of the Easter story are sufficiently different in each of the four Gospels that it impossible to determine exactly what occurred. Each account is an expression of faith rather than a historical record, and so each account takes on the living faith of the evangelist and/or the community in which the evangelist lived. What stands out as consistent, however, is Mary Magdalene, the empty tomb, and the time as Sunday morning.

Key Words
V. 1. hēgorasan arōmata hina elthousai aleipsōsin = “bought spices so that they would go to anoint him”: Their mission was not possible because the tomb was already empty, but the unnamed woman in the home of Simon the leper had already anointed Jesus’ body for burying (14:3-9).

Vss. 1- 2. Kai diagenomenou tou sabbatoukai lian prōi tē mia tōn sabbatōn = “And when the sabbath was over … and very early on the first day of the week” The timing of the resurrection has resulted in the church’s assertion that the first day of the week is set over the sabbath as the day to celebrate God’s mighty act.

V. 6. Iēsoun zēteite ton Nazarēnon ton estaurōmenon ēgerthē = “you seek Jesus the crucified Nazarene; he has risen”: Jesus had predicted his suffering, death, and resurrection at 8:31; 9:9-11, 31; 10:33-34. The “young man” announced to the women that what Jesus had been telling the disciples had come to pass, that is, he had spoken with the authority of God. (Recall the discussion of Isaiah 25:8: “for the Lord has spoken.”

V. 7. ekei auton opsesthe, kathōs eipen hymin = “there (in Galilee) you will see him, just as he told you”: This conclusion to the messenger’s report further confirms that Jesus had spoken with the authority of God, that is, his word effected what he promised. Strikingly, we have no record in Mark’s Gospel of Jesus’ words concerning a reunion in Galilee.

V. 8. tromos kai ekstasis … ephobounto gar = “trembling and ecstasy … for they were afraid”: “The words “fear” and “trembling” appear together at 1 Cor. 2:3 as Paul’s style of ministry; at 2 Cor. 7:13 for the Corinthians’ reception of Titus; at Eph. 6:5 for the attitude of slaves toward their owners; and at Phil. 2:12 for the attitude in which to work out “your own salvation.” As for ekstasis, the word occurs at Mark 8:23 to describe the crowd’s response to Jesus raising from the dead the synagogue leader’s daughter. At Luke 5:26 the crowd is ecstatic over the healing/forgiving of the paralytic man. Likewise, at Acts 3:10 the word describes the crowd’s “astonishment” when Peter heals the man “lame from birth.” On the other side, at Acts 10:10 and 11:5, the word describes the “trance” that came upon Peter to make him receptive to the vision, at 22:17 Paul uses the same word for the “trance” in which Jesus warned him to leave Jerusalem.

Wrestling with the Word, episode 15: Sunday of the Passion, Year B (April 5, 2009) March 19, 2009

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Sunday of the Passion

This day begins the week that defines the Christian faith. When Jesus enters the area of Jerusalem for the celebration of Passover and Unleavened Bread, the fulfillment of his teachings about suffering and death begin to unfold. Apart from his own identity, the events that unfold have no more meaning for us than the unjust, undeserved, and horrible execution of any person, past or present. But Jesus’ identity as the Son of God is the issue that distinguishes this week from all others. And the ways in which the writers of the New Testament told the story of the Passion provide the events with meaning. That meaning, that message, that news, gave new life and a future with hope to the early followers of Jesus, for those who have became Jesus’ disciples for two millennia and for us today.

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 15: Sunday of the Passion, Year B.


Psalm 31:9-16
The psalm is one of lament and thanksgiving. The psalmist laments the suffering of some chronic malady and is now on the verge of a violent death. In verses 1 and 17 appears the plea “not be put to shame” (Isa. 50:7). The petitioner has become such a sorry sight that not only enemies but also friends have rejected him. In the midst of his worst hour the psalmist realizes that pouring out such a lament is not a complaint against God but a petition to a God who cares and understands. To this God the psalmist surrenders in faith and trust, especially in the words that Jesus quotes from the cross (Ps. 31:5 at Luke 23:46). The thanksgiving at verses 21-24 brings the psalm to a close.


Isaiah 50:4-9a
God enables the servant to endure suffering in order to be the Lord’s witness in a hostile world.

The passage is the third of the so-called “servant songs” in Second Isaiah, the others being (1) 42:1-4; (2) 49:1-6; (4) 52:13–53:12. The speaker of songs 1 and 4 is the Lord, while in 2 and 3 the speaker is the servant himself. The identity of the servant has been the subject of scholarly debate for centuries, answers ranging from the prophet himself, to the king, to the exiled people of Jerusalem, and of course, to Jesus. The immediate context is interesting since vv. 1-3 speak of the Lord as having the power to deliver the people from their exile and then our verses attest to God’s accomplishing that deed through the servant.

Key Words
V. 4.  limmûddîm = “those who are taught”:  The expression appears twice in this verse but nowhere else in this exact form. The term seems to imply the gift of wisdom, i.e., those who are wise, perhaps even “a teacher” (NRSV). The purpose of this God-given wisdom is not for the servant’s own glory but “to sustain the weary (yā‘ēp) with a word.” The weary can include even “youths” who are exiles in Babylon, but the Lord who does not grow weary “shall renew their strength” (Isa. 40:28-31).

V. 6.  gēwî nātattî  lemakkîm ûlechāyay lemōretîm = “I gave my back to those who smite and my cheek to those who make bare (by pulling out the beard)”:  The submission to an act of violence sounds like that at Neh. 13:25.

V. 7.  kî-lō’ ’ēbôš = “for I shall not be put to shame”:  the same expression occurs in the wisdom Psalm 119 at v. 6. The plea to never “be put to shame” appears in Ps. 31:1, 17. Note the repeated concern about not being put to shame at Ps. 25:2, 3, 20. This psalm of lament contains also the plea that the Lord “teach” the petitioner (vss. 4-5) along with all those “that fear the Lord” (v. 12).

V. 9.  kullām kabbeged yiblû = “all of them will wear out like a garment”:  The imagery appears also in terms of the created order at Ps. 102:26 and Isa. 51:16 in contrast to YHWH who remains forever.


Philippians 2:5-11
The humiliation and exaltation of Jesus Christ causes the entire universe to bow at his name and confess him as Lord, so that God might be glorified.

Paul wrote this epistle from prison, but we do not know which one. If this imprisonment was the one in Rome (Acts 28:14-31), he wrote the letter about 59-60. If his imprisonment was in the one in Caesarea, described at Acts 23:33—26:32), then he wrote about 56-58. If, however, this imprisonment is in Ephesus (1 Cor. 15:30ff; 2 Cor. 1:8ff.), then he wrote this epistle between 53-55. In any case, at 1:27 Paul turns to issues of life style among the Christians at Philippi. Against opponents who teach a false gospel, Paul urges them to “stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving for the faith of the gospel.” Here he provides the hymn to demonstrate Jesus as the role model for humility. Jesus’ humiliation paves the way to exaltation, a theme that Paul takes in a slightly different direction at 2 Corinthians 8:9: “… that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.”

The verses represent a pre-Pauline hymn or creed. The word hos in v. 6 is typical of the beginning of creeds and hymns; see 1 Tim. 3:16. Attempts to define its origin have ranged from a Christian Aramaic psalm to a Hellenistic myth about the first human.

Key Words
V. 5.  phroneite = “have an attitude”:  While the words are different, especially in Greek, one wonders about the connection with the “transformed mind” Paul urges in Romans 12:2.

Vv. 6-7.  morphē theou … morphēn doulou:  “form of God … form of servant”:  The contrast alone explains the significance of the term for Paul. The LXX word for “image (of God)” in Gen. 1:26-27 is eikōn not morphē; only in Dan. 3:19 is Hebrew/Aramaic tselem (“image”) translated by morphē in LXX.

V. 6.  harpagmon = “robbery, prize, booty, a thing to be grasped for or held on to”:  Since Christ already had the “form” and did not need to grasp for it; the translation “held on to” seems more appropriate.

Vv. 10-11. The words “every knee should bow, and every tongue confess” are virtually identical to the LXX rendering of Isaiah 45:23. There “all the ends of the earth” shall worship God. Here the picture is even bigger.


Mark 14:1—15:47
Because of who he was and who the crowd claimed him to be, Jesus died. his death is described by the pattern of the psalms of lament.

1. The anointing by the woman: 14:3-92.

2. The Identity of Jesus on Trial

  • 14:53-65 Jesus appears before the religious authorities. The High priest asks: “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus answers: “I am; and you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” For references on the use of “I AM” see : Exod 3:1-15; 20:1; Leviticus (manyentries throughout); Isaiah 40—55; Mark 6:50; John 8:24, 28, 58; 13:19; 18:4-6
  • 15:1-5: Jesus’ identity is on trial before Pilate
    Pilate asks: “Are you the king of the Jews?” and Jesus answers: “You have said so.”
  • 15:16-20: The soldiers mock Jesus “Hail, King of the Jews!”
    The title written: “The King of the Jews”
    Chief priests and scribes mock Jesus: “Let the Christ, the king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.”
    Centurion: “Truly, this man was the Son of God.” (Mark 1:1, 11; 3:11; 9:7; Ps. 22:27)

3. The use of Psalm 22 and other psalms of lament

  • 15:34: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Ps. 22:1)
  • 14:18 “One of you will betray me, who is eating with me” using lament Psalm 41:9: “Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted, who ate of my bread, has lifted his heel against me.”
  • 14:34 “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death” using lament Psalm 42:6, 11: “My soul is cast down within me”
  • 15:24 They crucified him (Ps. 22:16: “they have pierced my hands and my feet”)
  • 15:24 They divided his garments among them, casting lots for them (Ps. 22:19)
  • 15:29 They derided him, wagging their heads (Ps. 22:7: “All who see me mock at me, they make mouths at me, wagging their heads.”)
  • 15:36 One ran and, filling a sponge full of vinegar, gave it to him to drink (Ps. 69:21: “They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink”)

Why the use of psalms of lament, especially Psalm 22?

  • 15:39 Centurion: “Truly, this man was the Son of God.” (Mark 1:1, 11; 3:11; 9:7; Ps. 22:27)
  • 14:22-25 The Institution of the Lord’s Supper
    Jesus says: “Take eat; this is my body…. This is my blood of the covenant (Exod 24:3-8; Zech. 9:11), which is poured out for any. Truly, I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” (Ps. 22:26)

4. “Who killed Jesus?” (14:27 using Zech. 13:7)

Wrestling with the Word, episode 14: Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B (March 29, 2009) March 10, 2009

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Fifth Sunday in Lent

The lessons for this day leave no ambiguity about the depth of human sinfulness and the extent to which God goes to make us new. Rather than separating us into groups of good or evil, or bad and not-quite-that-bad, the Bible forces us to deal with our complicity in the rebellion of all humanity against God. Likewise, the forgiveness of God extends not simply to certain people but to all people so that all our lives and our life together might honor and glorify God.

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 14: Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B.


Psalm 51:1-12
This penitential psalm is striking because it focuses not on material sufferings but on spiritual ones. The plea for forgiveness in verses 1-2 sets the tone for the entire psalm and is offered only because of trust in God’s “steadfast love” and “abundant mercy.” The acknowledgement of guilt and confession in verses 3-6 moves beyond the understanding of sin as an ethical code. The depth of sin is nothing less than the dishonoring of God by all of humankind (see Isa. 6:5; Rom. 1—2; 11:32). The petition for forgiveness comes to focus in verses 7-12. Such forgiveness results in the newness of life that can come only from God (see Jer. 31:31-34).


Jeremiah 31:31-34
In contrast with the past and present brokenness between God and the people, God promises in the expected “Day of the Lord” a new covenant that will bring all the people into an intimate relationship with God.

The call of Jeremiah at 1:4-10 indicates that the young man is given that word of God that “plucks up and breaks down,” but also that “builds and plants.” Much of the first part of the book contains sermons that  indeed “pluck up and break down.” The judgment came in 597 BCE when the Babylonian armies of Nebuchadnezzar plundered the temple treasures and took as captives many of the leading citizens of Jerusalem. Jeremiah’s preaching continued back home for those who were left behind, and to the exiles he sent a letter, encouraging the exiles to make Babylon their home until a distant date when God would bring them back (29:4-28). Beginning at chapter 30 the prophet begins his “building and planting,” for the word of God is bringing comfort to the afflicted (see 31:28).

Key Words
V. 31. hinnê yāmîm bā’îm = “Lo (the) days are coming”: Used as an equivalent to “the Day of the Lord” or “on that day,” “in those days,” “in the latter days.” This expression is particularly common in Jeremiah, sometimes as the time of judgment (7:32; 9:25; 48:12; 51:47, 52) but most often for the salvation of Israel and Judah (16:14; 23:5; 31:27; 31:31, 38; 33:14). The phrase is used also in Amos as a time of judgment (4:2; 8:11) and of peace (9:13). See also Luke 17:22; 23:29.

V. 31. berît chadāšâ = “a new covenant”: Only here in OT but used at 2 Cor. 3:6 and Hebrews 8:8, 13; 9:15; 12:24.

V. 32. weānōkî bā‘altî = “and I was their husband”: For the relationship of YHWH to Israel as a husband, see also Isa. 54:5; Jer. 3:20; Hos. 2:16.

V. 33. wehāyîtî lāhem lēlôhîm wehēmmâ yihyû-lî le‘ām = and I will be God for them, and they shall be to me a people”: The same expression appears at 24:7; Ezek. 11:20; 37:23, 27; Zech. 8:8. The first part of the expression “I will be God for them” appears also at Gen. 17:8.  The term appears, therefore, to be a priestly formula, for all the authors of the passages cited were trained to be priests.

V. 34. de‘û ‘et-YHWH = “know the Lord”: the expression seems to have something to do with receiving the word of the Lord at 1 Sam. 3:7, with worship by the Egyptians at Isa. 19:21, with a marital bond at Hos. 2:20. The Hebrew word “to know” appears often to denote an intimate relationship rather than mere awareness.

V. 34. kî ’eslach la‘avōnām ûlechattā’ām lō’ ’ezkor-‘ôd = “for I will forgive their sin and their iniquity I will no longer remember”: The Hebrew word “remember” means not simply the act of recalling but even of bringing into existence. Therefore, “not remember” actually indicates elimination. God’s threat to not remember Israel (Jer. 11:19; Ps. 83:5) or the Ammonites (Ezek. 21:32; 25:10) would make them extinct.


Hebrews 5:5-10
God appointed Jesus Christ, perfected by his suffering and faithful in obedience, as high priest so that he might serve as the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.

The authorship of this epistle is impossible to determine, except for the fact that the author excelled in Greek, was quite proficient in the LXX, and had a sound knowledge of Greek philosophy. The work seems to be more an essay than a letter, and so the intended audience is also a mystery. Many scholars consider his purpose to rejuvenate Christians who were becoming too complacent. To make his point in the book, the author has written of the identity of Jesus (1:1—3:6a), asserting his superiority over the angels and over Moses, and has begun to admonish them to endure (3:6b—4:13). From 4:14—10:18, the author teaches what Jesus has accomplished. The end of the book returns to admonishments.

V. 5. Outōs kai ho Christos ouch heauton edoxasen genēthēnai archiera = “So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest”: In the previous verses the author wrote that God chooses people to be high priests and that their function is to act on behalf of people and himself by offering sacrifices for sins. See Zechariah 3:1ff where God nominates Joshua ben Jozadak to be high priest; in the LXX his name is “Jesus.”

Vss. 5-6. The two quotes from the OT come from coronation psalms for Davidic kings in Jerusalem.  Psalm 110:4 speaks of Melchizedek as a priest. The author had previously quoted Psalm 2:7 at 1:15 as the first of several OT passages that demonstrate the superiority of Christ over the angels. The author will also Psalm 110:4 at 7:21. He devotes much of chapter 7 to a discussion of the priestly order of Melchizedek. In Genesis 14:17-24, Melchizedek is King of Salem (Jerusalem) and priest of the god El Elyon (God Most High).

V. 7. meta kraugēs ischyras kai dakryōn = “with loud cries and tears”: The agony of Jesus demonstrates he was human and not a spirit. Elsewhere Jesus expresses the emotions of anger (Mark 3:5; John 2:16-17), grief (Luke 19:41; John 11:33-36), and agony (Mark 14:33). The author here explains that God heard these cries because of Jesus’ eulabias = “reverent emotion” (NRSV) or “godly fear” (RSV). In the LXX God hears the kraugēs = “cries for help” of the Hebrews in bondage and promises to save them through Moses (Exod. 3:7).

Vss. 8-9. “he learned obedience through what he suffered … he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him”: The first part is reminiscent of Psalm 51, while the concluding words sound like those of the hymn Paul cites at Phil. 2:8.


John 12:20-33
On the basis of the visit by the Greeks, Jesus announces finally that the hour has come for him to be lifted up so that he might draw all people to himself.

This passage brings to a conclusion the so-called Book of Signs (chapters 1-12), and the words of Jesus here are his final public address in John’s Gospel. The pericope also draws to a conclusion a number of issues raised in chapters 11 and 12: the death of Lazarus “so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it” (11:4), death and resurrection (11:25-26), the gathering of the children of God beyond Israel into one (11:52), the fear of the Pharisees that “the world has gone after him” (12:19).

Parallels with the Synoptics
Vv. 25-26: losing and saving one’s life (Mark 8:34-36)
Vv. 27-28: the Gethsemane agony (Mark 14:34-36)
V. 28: hallowing God’s name by placing oneself at God’s will (Matt. 6:9-10)
V. 28: a voice from heaven (Mark 1:11; 9:7)

Key Words
V. 23. elēlythen hē hōra hina doxasthē ho huios tou anthrōpou = “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified”: Previously, Jesus had said the hour has not yet come (2:4) or promised that it is coming (4:21; 5: 28). At 4:23 and 5:25, Jesus says, “the hour is coming, and now is.” The evangelist also wrote that Jesus’ hour had not yet come (7:30; 8:20). Now that the hour has come, at 13:1 the evangelist connects “his hour” to Jesus’ departure from the world.

V. 27. nun hē psychē mou tetaraktai … sōsan me = “now my soul is troubled … save me”: the words are taken from Ps. 6:3-4, a psalm of lament. While Jesus utters the first part about the trouble, he rejects the psalm’s cry for help, since Jesus believes this suffering is his mission to fulfill for the glory of God. In Hebrews 5:7, our lesson for today, the author indicates that “Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death.” The tone of Psalm 51 resounds here. While Jesus utters the words common to laments, he rejects the psalm’s cry for help, since Jesus believes this suffering is his mission to fulfill for the glory of God.

V. 28. pater, doxasan sou to onoma = “Father, glorify your name”: In the OT, God often seeks glory, especially as a result of saving the people from their distress. Second Isaiah uses this “glory” motive quite often in connection with the deliverance from exile in Babylon: Isa. 40:5; 42:8;, 12; 43:7; 48:11. The Apostle Paul quotes a hymn that concludes with the goal of the humiliation-exaltation of Christ to be universe’s acknowledgement of God’s glory (Phil. 2:5-11).

V. 31. nun ho archōn tou kosmou toutou ekblēthēsetai exō= “now the prince of this world is cast out”: John uses this expression to refer to Satan (cf. 14:30; 16:11), but Paul comes close to this expression at 1 Cor. 2:6-8; 2 Cor. 4:4; see also Eph. 2:2; 6:12.

V. 32. kagō ean hypsōthō ek tēs gēs pantas elkysō pros emauton = “and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all to myself”: The reference to “lifted up” referred to the crucifixion at 3:14. Here, in spite of the evangelist’s reference to the manner of his “death” in v. 33, the verb seems to point as well to Jesus’ resurrection/ascension, that is, “from the earth.” The reference to “all” appears quite intentional in light of the appearance of the Greeks, that is, the representatives of the Gentile world, that is, the rest of humanity.