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, April 17, 2013

Lectionary Bible Commentary for Sunday, April 21

Sunday, April 21

Psalm 23

Shepherding is a common image in the Psalms – See Psalm 28:9, 77:20, 78:52, 79:13, 80:1, 95:7, & 100:3

v. 1 – The central theme is that God’s care is sufficient for our needs.

vv. 2-4 – Our shepherd provides us with rest, guidance, & protection.

vv. 5-6 – Our shepherd is a gracious host. We are not afraid of adversaries because of God’s protection and blessings. The psalmist can look back and instead of seeing an enemy, can see God’s goodness and mercy following him.

This Psalm speaks to us in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon terrorist act. The Lord is with us even as we know that there are enemies that seek to do us harm.

My story this past week when I read Psalm 23 to a church member in a nursing home who was agitated and this psalm provided him with a sense of peace.

John 10:22-30

During the Hanukkah dedication, Jesus is on the Temple grounds. Jesus is asked if he is the Messiah, the one who will finally bring about God’s kingdom on earth.

Hanukkah relates to the time when in 167 BC, an empire took over the Temple from the Jews, killed several of them, and began worshipping their own gods there. A group of Jewish people revolted and took back the Temple. Three years after this, the Jewish people purified the Temple and established the new Jewish celebration of Hanukkah to be observed every year. Every time Jewish people celebrated Hanukkah, they would remember this victory over the enemy. But now, approximately 200 years later, Jesus is claiming to be the true King of Israel. Many Jews are beginning to say that Jesus is crazy for thinking such a thing since he has been promoting only peace and an anti-violent type of kingdom. Think of a Quaker trying to promote peace the day after the Pearl Harbor attack!

v. 24 – The godly actions of Jesus show that he is the Messiah.

v. 27 – Those who believe are his sheep.

v. 28 – God’s sheep will be protected for eternity.

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