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, November 5, 2014

Upcoming Sunday Scripture Commentary - November 9

Sermon (November 9) - "Lighting the Way"

I Thessalonians 4:13-18

This is one of the earliest books written by Paul in the New Testament. Thessalonica was a thriving seaport in northern Greece, 200 miles north of Athens.

In this passage, Paul explains what will happen to believers when Jesus returns. He also wants the to know what has happened to believers who have already died.

To do this, Paul needs to describe that time in the future when God will make all things new. The challenge was to find words and metaphors to describe what this incredible event will be like.

Verse 14 - Paul reminds them that our hope in the future is centered on the death and resurrection of Jesus. This makes all of the difference in the world! Because of what Jesus has done, when we die, we will be with the Lord. We want Paul to go into more detail, but evidently, just knowing that we will always be with the Lord is sufficient good news.

Verses 16-17 - Paul says that when Jesus returns we will meet him in the air. This is not meant to be taken literally like rapture theology espouses. Jesus will not literally descend on earth as if Jesus resides in outer space somewhere. It simply means that Jesus will leave heaven which is another sphere of existence (earth being the other sphere) and heaven and earth will be made one. The metaphor of descending is to remind us of when Moses descended the mountain with God's commandments and there was a trumpet blast.

The "snatching up among the clouds" metaphor is taken from Daniel 7, where the righteous are vindicated by God. Since the Thessalonians had been persecuted for their faith, this was a very comforting metaphor for Paul to use in describing what will happen when Jesus returns. They will be vindicated.

Another metaphor that Paul is using is when the citizens of a Roman colony would go out and greet the emperor and escort him into their city.

By using these images, Paul is helping the Thessalonians to be comforted in knowing that not even death can keep them from God's presence for all eternity.

Matthew 25:1-13

In the ancient Jewish world, people would get married in the middle of the night! These weddings included torch processions for the groom as he came to be united with his bride.

This parable is based on the wisdom/folly literature that we found in the Book of Proverbs. We are intercede to the "foolish bridesmaids" who weren't prepared and didn't have enough oil for the light procession of the groom's arrival.

Matthew 9:15 - Jesus refers to himself as the bridegroom. The wedding parable is to help us be ready for when Christ comes. This is what it means to be wise and not foolish.


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

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