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Wrestling with the Word, episode 70: Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C (April 25, 2010) April 16, 2010

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

We have finished the Lenten season four weeks ago. The suffering of Christ has ended, and since then we are still enjoying the celebration of his resurrection. But for us, suffering continues, as it did for the early disciples of Jesus. We still get ill and suffer accidents. We still know the pain of rejection by friends and family. We still get traumatized over what people do to one another—individually or collectively. We still die, and so do our loved ones. The Resurrection of Jesus gives us all hope even in our tough times. It announces victory over the death that would keep us from one another and from God. It promises a future with hope that contrasts sharply with what we see and experience everyday. The Resurrection faith points to a party—a big party open to many people of different nationalities and races and agendas. It seems that the only ticket necessary is what names we call Jesus.

Download or listen to Wrestling with the Word, episode 70: Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C.

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Psalm 23
This psalm of trust is based on the development of the image of YHWH as the Shepherd of Israel (Psalm 80; Ezekiel 34) to the intimate relationship of YHWH to the individual worshiper.  The imagery speaks of the Lord’s guidance, presence, and protection through the valley of darkness.  (The traditional translation “the valley of the shadow of death” was based on reading Hebrew tsalmût = “darkness” as tsalmāwet = “valley of death”; however, there are no compound nouns in biblical Hebrew.)  The scene switches in verses 5-6 to a festive meal in the temple where the worshiper exults in the ongoing joy at participating in this different kind of intimacy with the Lord.  The worshiper has confidence for the future because of the constancy of God’s care past and present.

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Acts 9:36-43
Continuing the healing ministry of Jesus and endowed with the Holy Spirit, Peter raised Tabitha from the dead and restored her to her community, an act that inspired others to the faith.

Context
After reporting the conversion of Saul on the Damascus road earlier in the chapter, the author of Luke-Acts brings that section to a conclusion by announcing that the church in Judea and Galilee and Samaria walked in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.  Although in our liturgical calendar, we still wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, this chapter in the Book of Acts occurs nine chapters after that event.  It is important to realize that the church and its apostles have already been endowed with the Spirit as they go about their ministry.

Key Words
V. 36.  Joppa:  Jaffa, the modern name, is a city on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, only a couple of miles from the modern-day city of Tel Aviv.  The city is known in the OT as the place where Jonah tried to flee from the Lord’s command to preach to the city of Nineveh.

V. 38.  Lydda, also known as Lod, is located about 11 miles southeast of Joppa.  It plays an important role in the previous paragraph as the home of Aeneas, a man bedridden for 8 years, whom Peter healed.  The miracle brought many of the residents of Lydda and nearby Sharon to faith.

V. 40. Tabitha, anastēthi = “Tabitha, arise”: When Jesus performed a similar miracle for the daughter of Jairus, he said to the dead girl, “Talitha, cumi” (Aramaic) which means in Greek “Little girl, … arise” (Mark 5:41; however, the Greek word in Mark is egeire). The presentation of live Tabitha to others is similar to that of the little girl in Mark. The story recalls the miracles of the prophets Elijah (1 Kings 17) and Elisha (2 Kings 4).

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Revelation 7:9-17
Gathered around the throne of God and comprised of people from every nation, the community of the faithful singing the “hymn of all creation” learn the blessings to come in the kingdom.

Context
The vision of John the Seer throughout the entire book is written to provide people with hope in the midst of the persecution under Emperor Domitian in the year A.D. 95.  This particular piece is part of the vision that resulted from the Lamb opening the sixth seal.

V. 9. kai enōpion tou arniou = and before the Lamb”: Using a different Greek word (amnos), other NT writers speak of Jesus “as a lamb” (Acts 8:32) or “like a lamb without blemish” (1 Peter 1:19), although the author of John’s Gospel puts the title into the mouth of John the Baptist: “Behold the lamb of God” (John 1:29, 36).(This word amnos appears frequently in the LXX for the lamb in the sacrificial system.) As for the word arnios used here, John the Seer uses the word as a designation of Christ 28 times. Elsewhere in the NT, the word appears only of Jesus’ “flock” at John 21:15.

V. 14. en tō aimati tou arniou = “in the blood of the Lamb”: Clearly the sacrificial use of the lamb is clear here, especially as the title appears in v. 10 in regard to “salvation.”

V. 16. A quotation of Isaiah 49:10 where God’s word of salvation is addressed to the exiles in Babylon.

V. 17. hoti to arnion to ana meson tou thronou poimanei autous = “For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd”: The change from “lamb” to “shepherd” of the flock is striking, but with the title “shepherd” comes a rich OT image of God and of the Messiah (see Psalm 23:1: Ezek. 34:15, 23; note God’s naming Cyrus, king of Persia, as “my shepherd” at Isa. 44:28). In the ancient world, the title “shepherd” was common for royalty, used by such leaders as Hammurabi, king of Babylon, and Sennacherib, king of Assyria.

V. 17. kai exaleipsei ho theos pan dakryon ek tōn ophthalmōn autōn = “and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes”: The quotation of Isaiah 25:8 enhances the image of the eschatological blessings for those who in faith endure tribulations.

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John 10:22-30
More powerful than all others, Jesus and the Father can assure the sheep of the flock that no one can snatch them away and deprive them of eternal life.

Context
Jesus had just finished the saying about himself as the Good Shepherd (see Psalm 23; Ezekiel 34; Psalm 80) and as one who had the power to lay down his life and to take it up again.  These words caused division among the Judeans in the temple, some saying he has a demon and others claiming that no one with a demon could have performed such miracles as healing the blind. The conclusion of the dissenters was: “Why listen to him?”

Key Words
V. 22.  “the feast of the Dedication“:  The feast is Chanukkah, the celebration of the purification of the temple (164 B.C.) after it had been desolated by Antiochus IV Epiphanes (167 B.C.).

V. 24.  heōs pote tēn psychēn hēmōn aireis = “How long will you take away our breath/life”:  In vv. 11, 15-18 Jesus speaks of giving his psychē for the sheep and having the power to give it and take it again.

V. 24.  “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly”:  See the question of the Sanhedrin at Luke 22:67, as well as Jesus response there. Here the question comes from the Judeans who had gathered around him in the temple’s portico of Solomon.

V. 27-28. ta probata ta ema tēs phōnēs mou akouousin, kagō ginōskō auta kai akolouthousin moi, kagō didōmi autois zōēn aiōnion = “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give them eternal life”: The connection among hearing, being known, following is essential for discipleship and for the reward of eternal life. Voice recognition becomes critical for distinguishing those who hear and those who do not. For the result of life, see John 3:15-16.