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Wrestling with the Word, episode 73: Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year C (May 16, 2010) May 10, 2010

Posted by fostermccurley in Wrestling With The Word podcast.
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Seventh Sunday of Easter

In the musical Camelot, King Arthur tells Guinevere on the day of their meeting about his teacher Merlin. Arthur says, “He lives backwards… He can remember the future… He can tell you what is in it.” The Bible abounds in visions of the future. Those visions give us hope in difficult times. But they also give us direction in how we live our lives in the present. That guidance is not the result of magic but of revelation. Committing ourselves to follow the guidance begins and ends with confession and praise.

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 73: Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year C.

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Psalm 97
This psalm extolling the glorious reign of God, like the similar Pss. 47, 93, 95, 96, 98, 99, bases the reign of God on the divine act of creation. Clearly, since God is the creator of the entire universe, God cannot be made like the idols of the peoples. Clear also is the promise of the Creator God to preserve the life of the saints and deliver them from the wicked. That posture of God is appropriate because God rules with “justice and righteousness (as) the foundation of his throne” (v. 2).

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Acts 16:16-34
Though the messengers of God are constantly opposed by religious, political, and financially-threatening forces, God manages to bring the risk of witnessing to fruition, with the result that others come to rejoice over their belief in God.

Context
The immediate context is the city of Philippi where the apostles are guests in the home of Lydia. The larger context of opposition and imprisonment continues the experience of Jesus, the other apostles, and certainly Stephen.  Paul and his group experienced such opposition in Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-9), in Beroea (17:10-14), in Corinth where he was imprisoned, and in Ephesus where he escaped the crowd’s wrath.

Key Words
V. 16.  pneuma pythōna = “a spirit, a divination”:  Young women with such gifts of divination were called pythōnes, literally pythons.  They were persons inspired by Apollo, the Pythian god who was symbolized by a snake (the Python) at Delphi.  Like the oracle at Delphi, such persons of divination brought visitors from far and wide, seeking to receive answers to their puzzling questions. Obviously, such oracle-giving could become a profitable business, as indeed it was for this woman’s owners. Interestingly, although Paul was annoyed by her constant presence, she spoke the truth.

V. 30.  kyrioi, ti me dei poiein hina sōthō = “Lords, what must I do to be saved?”:  Recall the question of the Jewish lawyer at Luke 10:25:  ti poiēsas zōēn aiōnion klēronomēsō = “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  The response to the question after the resurrection is different from the one Jesus gives in Luke 10.

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Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21
To those suffering persecution for their faith, the Risen Christ promises to come soon with the gift of life in the New Day.

Context
In the final vision John the Seer saw a tree of life on each side of the river and a city with nothing accursed in it.  Now in the conclusion to the book, these themes occur in regard to the coming of Christ.

Key Words and OT Allusions
V. 12.  On the Lord coming with recompense see esp. Isa. 40:10; on repaying everyone according to deeds, see Ps. 28:4; Jer. 17:10.

V. 14.  On the righteous entering the city by the gates see Ps. 24:3-6; on the tree of life, see v. 2; Gen 2:9; 3:22, 24; and especially Ezek. 47:12.

V. 16.  On `riza as descendant of David see Isa. 11:10 (Rom. 15:12); Sir. 47:22 (Rev. 5:5); on the star as a royal Davidic image see Num. 24:17

V. 17.  hydōr zōēs dorean = “water of life as a gift”:  Recall Jesus’ words at John 4:14. In OT see Ezek. 47:1, 6b-12; Zech. 13:1; 14:8. On dorean = “as a gift,” “without price” see Isa. 55:1.

V. 20.  “I am coming soon”:  cf. Paul’s closing at 1 Cor. 16:22.

V. 21.  hē charis tou kyriou ‘Iēsou meta pantōn = “the grace of the Lord Jesus be with all”:  some ancient manuscripts add hagiōn = “the saints.”  In any case, the concluding blessing is potent in its indication that even now, while the faithful wait the new day to come, the grace of the Lord Jesus is present even in the midst of their persecution (cf. 2 Thess. 3:18).

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John 17:20-26
Jesus prays that the love of God and of Jesus for the disciples and their love for one another become the means by which the world will believe that God sent Jesus into it.

Context
In his prayer to God on the night of his betrayal, Jesus had just prayed that God not take the disciples out of the world but to protect them from the evil one.  Indeed, Jesus indicated that he has sent them into the world, just as God sent him into the world.

Key Words
V. 21.  ho kosmos = “the world”:  occurs 57 times in John’s Gospel against 9 in Matt. and 3 in Mark and in Luke.  The lack of the world’s knowledge of God is attested at 1:9-10; God’s love for the world at 3:16-17; God’s desire to save the world at 1:29; 4:42, etc.

V. 23.  teteleiōmenoi eis hen = “they might be brought to completion as one” (passive):  The same verb (active) appears only for the completion of the work of Jesus at v. 4; 4:34; 5:36; 19:28.

V. 23.  hina ginōskē ho kosmos hoti = “in order that the world may know that”:  This theme is common in OT that by some miraculous deed others would know that Yahweh is God:  used of the Egyptians at the exodus event at Exod. 7:5; 10:2; 14:18.  The expression appears most frequently in Ezekiel both for Israel’s knowledge of God through judgment, e.g., 12:16, 20; 13:9, 14, 23, and for the nations’ knowledge of God through the salvation of Israel from exile (36:23; 37:28).