A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Lectionary Bible Commentary for January 27

Sermon (January 27) – “Been There, Done That!”

Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10

-       The books of Ezra and Nehemiah form one story. Ezra begins with Cyrus of Persia’s decree, in 538 BC, permitting the Jewish exiles to return to Jerusalem and to rebuild the Temple, a venture in which they are to be materially aided. Cyrus orders that the sacred vessels taken from the Temple in 587 be returned. More than 42,000 leave Babylon for Judah. The altar is erected on the site of the destroyed Temple; the priests again offer burnt offerings. Construction of the new Temple begins: a more modest structure than Solomon’s.
-       Ezra, a scribe and priest is commissioned by King Artaxerxes to return with the exiles teach the statutes of Israel to the people of God.
-       V. 1 – “The book of the Law” is probably Leviticus. (see vv. 14-15)
-       V. 8 – They had to translate from Hebrew to Aramaic for the people to understand what was being read.

Luke 4:14-21

-       What caused Jesus to get kicked out of the synagogue and sent to a cliff to throw him over? (Note that early in Luke, the devil had promised to rescue Jesus if only he would jump off the Temple!)
-       Even while teaching in the synagogue, Jesus can tell that the people do not want to follow him. They are taunting him much like it will be one he is hanging on the cross – see Luke 23:35
-       In response, Jesus identifies himself with the great prophets from the OT and how they were willing to help people outside of Israel! This was not what the people of Israel wanted to hear in Jesus’ day.  They wanted to hear the opposite.
-       Jesus quoted Isaiah in the synagogue which is a picture of the servant/Messiah to come. Jesus interpreted this to mean that God was choosing this time to offer grace to all people.
-       When the Gospel is proclaimed, some will celebrate the message while others will be disappointed and even become angry.

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