Welcome to Episode #76 of the Sunday Scripture Podcast!
John 20: 19-31 Common English Bible (CEB)
19 It was still the first day of the week. That evening, while the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you don’t forgive them, they aren’t forgiven.”
24 Thomas, the one called Didymus,[a] one of the Twelve, wasn’t with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples told him, “We’ve seen the Lord!”
But he replied, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, put my finger in the wounds left by the nails, and put my hand into his side, I won’t believe.”
26 After eight days his disciples were again in a house and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus entered and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here. Look at my hands. Put your hand into my side. No more disbelief. Believe!”
28 Thomas responded to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Jesus replied, “Do you believe because you see me? Happy are those who don’t see and yet believe.”
30 Then Jesus did many other miraculous signs in his disciples’ presence, signs that aren’t recorded in this scroll. 31 But these things are written so that you will believe that Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son, and that believing, you will have life in his name.
Three Points of Discussion
Quote #1 - Of all the characters Jesus meets in the post-resurrection world of John’s Gospel, none has left a stronger mark on the imagination of Western Christianity than Thomas. We love him. He is the incredulous non-believer who hides inside every believing Christian—the questioner in us that resists easy answers to hard questions of faith, who always wants a little more proof. In the annals of Christian theology, there are numerous accounts of why Thomas doubts, each reflecting the skeptical impulses of the era in which they arose. In the early church, doubters questioned whether God, as eternal and divine, could die and still be God, and Thomas bore the weight of those Trinitarian debates. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor. Feasting on the Word: Year B, Volume 2: Lent through Eastertide (Feasting on the Word: Year B volume) (Kindle Locations 14096-14101). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition
Quote #2 - A chronic temptation for the church is to stay behind closed doors. In the experience of the Western church since the advent of the modern world, enlightenment pressures have conspired with this perennial temptation to place the church squarely behind the closed door of the private and personal domain. Behind this door are found the personal, spiritual, and familial dilemmas that occupy humans in their private existence. The message of the gospel is taken seriously and with some urgency behind this door, with the prospect of healing and wholeness embraced enthusiastically for this area of life. On the other side of that door stand the public and social worlds that occupy humans when they venture forth from “home.” Beyond that door are found the economic, political, and civic realities that occupy people most of their waking hours. Here the gospel’s promise is scarcely acknowledged or, if glimpsed, is deemed out of place. Ironically, even in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when Western Christians undertook to bear the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth, they tended to share a gospel that stays behind these same closed doors. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor. Feasting on the Word: Year B, Volume 2: Lent through Eastertide (Feasting on the Word: Year B volume) (Kindle Locations 14143-14151). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.
Quote #3 - The Easter miracle of John 20:19–31, and the homiletical heart of this lesson, is that Jesus comes again and again to these scared and confused disciples. The disciples have not warranted a second visit by Jesus, but they get one, and a renewed gift of his peace (v. 26). Thomas is given exactly what he has requested—a chance to see and touch Jesus for himself. Importantly, the story does not tell us that Thomas did touch Jesus, because Thomas touching Jesus is beside the point. The point is Jesus’ offer of himself, over and over again, to people who long to see him. With no questions asked, Jesus offers himself and gives the repeated gift of his presence and his peace. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor. Feasting on the Word: Year B, Volume 2: Lent through Eastertide (Feasting on the Word: Year B volume) (Kindle Locations 14261-14265). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.
Welcome to Episode #75 of the Sunday Scripture Podcast! Today we read an incredibly significant story to Christians. Having hastily placed Jesus in tomb because it was getting dark, walking away heartbroken that they had lost their loved one in such a violent way, reflecting on every aspect that went so fast in front of their eyes, three people go back to the tomb to properly care for his body. They want closure, they want to care for their loved one, they surely want to cry, and then this happens...
Mark 16: 1-8 Common English Bible (CEB)
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they could go and anoint Jesus’ dead body.2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they came to the tomb.3 They were saying to each other, “Who’s going to roll the stone away from the entrance for us?” 4 When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away. (And it was a very large stone!) 5 Going into the tomb, they saw a young man in a white robe seated on the right side; and they were startled. 6 But he said to them, “Don’t be alarmed! You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.[a] He has been raised. He isn’t here. Look, here’s the place where they laid him. 7 Go, tell his disciples, especially Peter, that he is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.” 8 Overcome with terror and dread, they fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
Three Points of Discussion
Quote #1 - Dealing with death is inevitably complex. Grief is almost always in the forefront. But other, less mentionable feelings swirl through the experience as well—relief, to name one. For the things that lead to death frequently place heavy burdens on those who only stand and wait—the stress of caregiving, the anxiety of finances, the challenge of placing one’s own life on hold, and the boredom of numbing sameness as one day unfolds into the next with no change in the situation. As deeply as grief may go, certain gains accompany the loss that death brings. Though we are generally disinclined to publicize it, we are often relieved as well as grieved when death comes. One of the reasons we bear up so well postmortem is that we are buoyed by this sense of relief. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor. Feasting on the Word: Year B, Volume 2: Lent through Eastertide (Feasting on the Word: Year B volume) (Kindle Locations 12508-12513). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.
Quote #2 - The women on their way to anoint Jesus’ body in the tomb were no exception. Their intended act was one of deep devotion. It was a last act of personal and religious loyalty, no doubt undertaken as one more step by which they might work through the obvious pain and loss Jesus’ crucifixion had brought upon them. Thus it promised closure. But in this case the closure was closure not just upon an important personal relationship, but also closure on a world-embracing dream. They were making peace not only with the death of a person but with the death of God, with the death of Jesus’ claim to embody the reign of God for the well-being of the world. Thus they had uncommon reason to grieve deeply and profoundly, and somehow to make peace with the death of this dream. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor. Feasting on the Word: Year B, Volume 2: Lent through Eastertide (Feasting on the Word: Year B volume) (Kindle Locations 12514-12519). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.
Quote #3 - Mark recognized, as many contemporary Easter preachers do not, that one does not need to illustrate or elaborate on the triumph of Easter. What the preacher is called to do is to bring his or her worshiping community into direct and immediate encounter with the cosmic transformation that is the resurrection. The words with which Mark ends—“So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid”—are the necessary beginning point of any Easter proclamation. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor. Feasting on the Word: Year B, Volume 2: Lent through Eastertide (Feasting on the Word: Year B volume) (Kindle Locations 12627-12631). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.
Mark 11: 1-11 Common English Bible (CEB)
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”
4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5 some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go.7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
Three Points of Discussion
Quote #1 - Up until now Jesus has cautioned the disciples and others not to say anything publicly about the great works he has done in their presence. Insofar as anyone did understand who he was, they have been warned to say nothing of what they know or have seen. But now, in this week before Passover, Jesus decides to enter Jerusalem with full publicity—to receive the acclaim of the crowds and to appear before the world as if he is fulfilling one of the messianic prophecies. We know, however, that Jesus is not the sort of messiah that the crowds either expect or want. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor. Feasting on the Word: Year B, Volume 2: Lent through Eastertide (Feasting on the Word: Year B volume) (Kindle Locations 5471-5475). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.
Quote #2 - When Jesus does finally enter the city, he enjoys all the trappings of a great military procession for a triumphant national hero. The whole time, however, Jesus is turning imperial notions of power and rule on their head. His theater is a humorous piece of political satire. In his “triumphal entry” Jesus lampoons the “powers that be” and their pretensions to glory and dominion, and he enacts an alternative to their way of domination. Riding on the colt, his feet possibly dragging on the ground, Jesus comes not as one who lords his authority over others, but as one who humbly rejects domination. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor. Feasting on the Word: Year B, Volume 2: Lent through Eastertide (Feasting on the Word: Year B volume) (Kindle Locations 5624-5627). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.
Quote #3 - A great philosopher once wrote that to love is to suffer. In many ways God’s love scares me, because it reveals that love is not a longing to seize and hold another person like an object that can be controlled —for an object is not what the other is, and if that is what you love, then you love only yourself. So the correct kind of love for Jesus has to contain a full glimpse of reality as well as endurance through suffering. We are invited into God’s kind of love, which is not sentimental. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor. Feasting on the Word: Year B, Volume 2: Lent through Eastertide (Feasting on the Word: Year B volume) (Kindle Locations 5533-5536). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.
Welcome to Episode #73 of the Sunday Scripture Podcast!
Today we continue the Season of Lent. It lasts for 40 days just before Easter Sunday. In those 40 days we read difficult texts, because they tell the story of the journey Jesus was on to redeem all of creation.
There are several ways to choose texts in this season, and we have chosen to read Adam Hamilton’s book, 24 Hours that Changed the World.
Last week, Jesus was before the Jewish Elders of the Sanhedrin and they wanted him to admit he believed he was the son of God. He did and no one in that circle admitted to believing him. They then had momentum to take Jesus before the Roman officials.
Today, Jesus is before the chief Roman official in the region, the governor Pontius Pilate. Pilate’s chief tasks in the region are to keep the occupied people settled and to collect the necessary taxes to be sent home. He likely could care less, but the Elders forced his hand in our text for today.
Our scripture reading is Matthew 27: 11-26...
Matthew 27:11-26 Common English Bible (CEB)
11 Jesus was brought before the governor. The governor said, “Are you the king of the Jews?”Jesus replied, “That’s what you say.” 12 But he didn’t answer when the chief priests and elders accused him. 13 Then Pilate said, “Don’t you hear the testimony they bring against you?” 14 But he didn’t answer, not even a single word. So the governor was greatly amazed.
15 It was customary during the festival for the governor to release to the crowd one prisoner, whomever they might choose. 16 At that time there was a well-known prisoner named Jesus Barabbas. 17 When the crowd had come together, Pilate asked them, “Whom would you like me to release to you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 He knew that the leaders of the people had handed him over because of jealousy.
19 While he was serving as judge, his wife sent this message to him, “Leave that righteous man alone. I’ve suffered much today in a dream because of him.”
20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and kill Jesus. 21 The governor said, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”
“Barabbas,” they replied.
22 Pilate said, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”
They all said, “Crucify him!”
23 But he said, “Why? What wrong has he done?”
They shouted even louder, “Crucify him!”
24 Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere and that a riot was starting. So he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I’m innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It’s your problem.”
25 All the people replied, “Let his blood be on us and on our children.” 26 Then he released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus whipped, then handed him over to be crucified.
Three Points of Discussion
Quote #1 - The Antonia Fortress was both the governor’s residence and a military garrison in the heart of the city. It was adjacent to the Temple itself, and a Roman military presence so intimately tied to such a holy site both grieved and angered the Jewish people. On this chilly morning, though, the Sanhedrin was glad to have Pilate nearby to hear their case against Jesus. The Jewish authorities surely knew that Jesus had no intention of leading a rebellion against Rome; the only authority over which he expressed outrage was theirs as religious leaders. Still, their charges would either force Jesus to deny that he was the Messiah or, if he refused, force Pilate to put him to death for insurrection. Hamilton, Adam. 24 Hours That Changed the World, Expanded Large Print Edition (p. 63). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.
Quote #2 - Jesus was offering himself as a sacrificial lamb for the sins of the world. His death, Christians believe, was redemptive. It was purposeful. Jesus did not die a disillusioned prophet. He was not simply a great teacher put to death by the Romans. He chose to go to Jerusalem, anticipating and even predicting to his disciples his death. Christians believe that that death was the vehicle by which God saved the world. Isaiah painted the picture: Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5) . Hamilton, Adam. 24 Hours That Changed the World, Expanded Large Print Edition (p. 65). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.
Quote #3 - Barabbas is intriguing both as a character in his own right and in his role in the death of Jesus. In Barabbas, we have an insurrectionist who led a revolt against the Romans; someone who apparently had murdered Roman collaborators, perhaps even Roman citizens; and a person who robbed others and presumably used their money for his cause. Pilate apparently thought the people would ask for Jesus, and he was all too happy to oblige; but they asked instead for Barabbas, and in the end it was Barabbas he released. Adam Hamilton goes on to surmise that Barabbas would be the first sinner for whom Jesus died. Hamilton, Adam. 24 Hours That Changed the World, Expanded Large Print Edition (p. 67). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.
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