Category: Ellis Orozco

John 1:29-42

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on January 19, 2014.

In the first chapter of his gospel John was attempting to establish the identity of Jesus. He offered five pronouncements of Jesus’ identity, alternating between calling him the Son of God and Messiah.  He began with a poetic approach (John 1:1-18), calling Jesus “the Word,” that “became flesh,” and the one who “came from the Father” (John 1:14). He described a pre-incarnate Jesus who was a part of the foundation of the universe.  In essence he called Jesus the Son of God.  In the four scenes that followed, he used John the Baptist, Andrew, and Nathanael to affirm Jesus’ identity in a series of encounters and pronouncements, calling him Son of God and Messiah, alternatively.

When John the Baptist first saw Jesus he recognized him as the “Lamb of God” (John 1:29a), and proclaimed that Jesus would somehow “take away the sins of the world” (John 1:29b).  This was an apocalyptic title and task that had certain messianic overtones.  He then affirmed the claims of John 1:1-4, by revealing that Jesus was greater because he “came before me” (even though John was older than Jesus).  This seemed to be a direct allusion to the pre-incarnate Jesus.  The scene ended with John’s direct proclamation that Jesus “is the Son of God” (John 1:34).  This again, was an obvious affirmation of the identity and authority of Jesus.

Continue reading

Matthew 3:13-17

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on January 12, 2014.

There have been two consistent themes from the beginning of the gospel of Matthew.  The first is the theme of fulfillment.  The second is the theme of royalty. Both are present in this scene.  Jesus was recognized as the fulfillment of God’s plan on earth.  His birth was predicted (Matthew 1:21).  His survival was predicted (Matthew 2:13).  His herald was predicted (Matthew 3:3).  And finally, in the climactic baptismal scene, God himself spoke a word of affirmation, as he revealed Jesus to be his own beloved son.

Jesus was also introduced as the royal king.  Jewish kings had to be anointed by a prophet before they could assume the powers and responsibilities of the throne (1 Samuel 10:1; 15:1; 16:1; 2 Kings 9:6).  Matthew described an evil king who sought to usurp that process and kill the righteous king.  The righteous king prevailed only through divine intervention.  And in the baptism of Jesus, the righteous king was cleansed in water, and anointed by the presence of the Holy Spirit.  In the Old Testament the anointing was thought to be a symbol of the presence and empowering of the Holy Spirit (1 Samuel 16:13).  Jesus voluntarily submitted to the rite of purification, was publicly anointed by the Holy Spirit, and was proclaimed to be God’s royal Son.

Continue reading

Matthew 3:1-12

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on December 8, 2013.

This scene out of the gospel of Matthew continues the theme of fulfillment.  Jesus came to fulfill the plan of God. John came before Jesus to fulfill the role of royal herald.  When royalty traveled to any part of the expansive kingdom heralds were sent before them announcing their coming and preparing the people for the royal visitation.  It was imperative that the people understood their position in relation to the coming King. The herald not only announced the coming of the king, but also modeled the appropriate demeanor and attitude when hosting the king.  Not only did John fulfill the prophecy found in Isaiah 40:3, but he also spoke of the one who was coming in a way that exalted the king, and diminished the herald (Matthew 3:11; John 3:30).

In this section of Scripture, Matthew introduced John and his preaching (Matthew 3:1-6), portrayed the confrontation between John and the Jewish religious leadership (Matthew 3:7-10), and highlighted the difference between the ministry of John and Jesus (Matthew 3:11-12).  The entire scene seemed to have two basic functions: to introduce the enemies of Jesus (the Pharisees and Sadducees); and, explain the relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist.

Continue reading

Matthew 2:13-23

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on December 29, 2013.

Matthew could be called the gospel of fulfillment.  Matthew quotes more Old Testament prophecies than any other gospel writer.  For instance, in the passage Matthew 2:13-23, the author quotes three Old Testament passages that are fulfilled in the birth and early childhood of Jesus.  There are three brief scenes in these ten verses.  Each scene ends with an announcement that what has preceded in the narrative was a fulfillment of the Old Testament prophets.  For this reason these narratives are sometimes called pronouncement stories.

Matthew’s gospel is also filled with divine intervention through dreams.  God appears to Joseph in a dream to tell him that Mary’s pregnancy is a miraculous fulfillment of God’s will.  God appears to the Magi to warn them about Herod’s evil intentions.  God appears to Joseph to warn him about Herod’s murderous plans, and to give him the escape plan via Egypt.  And God appears to Joseph a third time to let him know that Herod was dead and the danger had passed.  The themes of God’s presence and sovereignty, along with the fulfillment of God’s plans are peppered throughout the narrative.

Continue reading