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, December 10, 2014

Upcoming Sunday Scripture Commentary - December 14

Sermon (December 14) - "Reclaim Christmas: Scandalous Love"

Romans 3:21-26

Context of this scripture passage:
Paul is using the metaphor of a courtroom. Court was in session and everyone was found guilty. Israel was not able to be the people God had called them to be. Israel was supposed to be the solution to the problem of sin, but they were also part of the problem!

v. 22 - God's righteousness - This refers to how God is faithful to the covenant he made to Israel. It wold be through Jesus' life, death, and resurrection that the world would be made right.

v. 23 - All have sinned. That is, human were created to reflect God's image in the world and we have failed in being who we were created to be!

Instead of God giving up on the covenant, God fulfills it through Jesus. Jesus is our representative and did what we were not able to do on our own.

v. 24 - The result of Jesus fulfilling the covenant is redemption. This word is a technical word in biblical times of buying back a slave. The metaphor is extended here because God's redemption means that we are no longer slaves! Humanity is now declared not guilty.

v. 25 refers to a piece of furniture in the Temple - the mercy seat. Instead of the mercy seat, we now have Jesus. Jesus has become the reality of what the Temple had been pointing all along.

v. 26 - We are justified by faith which means that those who accept the good news of Jesus are declared to be in the right and not guilty.

Luke 1:39-56

This is called the Magnificat because the first word of this passage in Latin is Magnificat. This is often sung by choirs and in monasteries.

Mary and Elizabeth were filled with joy because they shared in the hope of all Israel that one day God will fulfill a promise to bless the world through the covenant that had been made with Israel. In order for this to happen, the powers of this world would need to be overthrown.

This song reminds us of Hannah's song from I Samuel 2 in the Old Testament.

This scripture shows us Elizabeth, an older woman who is pregnant alongside a younger woman, Mary, who is also pregnant. They are joyful because they know their sons will be part of the long awaited fulfillment of God's covenant.

For this reason, Mary offers this incredible song of celebration.

[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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