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 30, 2014

Upcoming Sunday Scripture Commentary (May 4)

May 4 Sermon – “The Breaking of the Bread”

Psalm 116:1-4, 12-14
This Psalm is one of thanksgiving for God’s presence through a time of illness and trouble. God’s faithfulness is recognized!

Psalms 113 to 118 are known as Hallelujah Psalms. They all contain the phrase, “Praise the Lord.” These were used at the great feasts in Israel.

The Psalmist calls on the Lord three times in vv. 2,4, & 17.

Verse 3 – Sheol is another word for the grave or the Pit.

Verse 8 – Soul means “being.” It’s not a word that refers to the Greek understanding of the soul separated from the body. The Hebrew understanding is more wholistic.

Verses 12 to 19 – This is a vow made by the Psalmist.

Luke 24:13-35
On the Sunday evening after Jesus’ death, two of Jesus’ followers are leaving Jerusalem and walking toward a village called Emmaus.  As they travel, they meet a stranger who changes their lives.

The couple was probably a married couple, Cleopas and Mary. (See John 19:25) Perhaps, they first thought that the stranger was a spy since Jesus’ followers would have been fearful of the religious authorities at this point.

The crucifixion was at first a sign of failure since the 1st century Jewish expectation was that the Messiah would defeat the Romans and not be killed by the Romans!

The couple thought that the Messiah would save them from suffering but it would actually be through suffering that God would rescue the world.

The stranger (Jesus) explains the meaning of the cross and the empty tomb by telling the story of the Hebrew scriptures and how it was all leading to this.

Notice that the strangers didn’t recognize the stranger as Jesus. The risen Christ can be recognizable to his followers but not in an obvious way. (See Matthew 28:17.) In each instance, they only recognize Jesus when they understand the meaning of the cross and the empty tomb.

This Emmaus story reminds us that we need to pray for God to guide and open our minds whenever we read and study the scriptures. Only then, we will come to a point where our hearts burn within us. (Verse 32.)

[Note: The resources used for these scripture reading commentaries are based on the Everyone series by NT Wright, The Wesley Study Bible, and the “Montreal-Anglican”lectionary commentaries.]  

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