Category: Tom Ogburn

Luke 14:1, 7-14

This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on August 28, 2016.

Hermano Leon
Hermano Leon

This passage begins with Jesus going to the home of the leader of a synagogue for a Sabbath meal. Luke provides no fanfare in his introduction of this story, but the setting for this narrative would have been striking to the gospel’s first audience. The Gospels are filled with confrontations between Jesus and the Pharisees. They also offer stories of Jesus having dinner with tax collectors and sinners. However, Luke alone tells stories of Jesus eating with Pharisees. In Chapter 7, Luke recounts Jesus’ eating with a Pharisee when the unexpected and the scandalous occurred. A sinful woman came in and washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, kissed them and anointed them with perfume (7:36-50). Now in Chapter 14, one finds Jesus at the table of another Pharisee. This setting should forewarn the audience that they should be prepared for either a significant event or a significant word from Jesus.

The lectionary text omits verses 2 through 6. This omission is unfortunate as it aids in understanding the selected text’s context. In these verses Jesus heal a man with “abnormal swelling of his body” (v. 2). Jesus’ healing on the Sabbath is a reoccurring issue between Jesus and the Pharisees. One sees this tension played out in Chapter 13 when Jesus heals the bent and broken woman on the Sabbath within the synagogue walls. Jesus uses a similar explanation to validate healing on the Sabbath in both chapters. Jesus’ choice to heal on the Sabbath in front of the Pharisees and within the home of a Pharisee would have created tension in the room.  In this context Jesus speaks both to the dinner guests and the meal’s host.

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Luke 13:10-17

This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on August 21, 2016.

Strasbourg Cathedral - Jesus healing a woman on Sabbath
Strasbourg Cathedral – Jesus healing a woman on Sabbath

This passage carries us into a synagogue where Jesus is teaching. By this point in Luke’s gospel narrative, Jesus’ reputation in the region was established.  Jesus had performed several dramatic healings and exorcisms, fed the five thousand, and taught burgeoning crowds in cities and villages. Jesus stands and teaches, and those seeking healing have followed him.

The passage draws the audience into a moment when they are witnessing a dramatic act of compassion and healing. The gospel narratives most often portray those seeking healing as calling out and demanding Jesus’ attention. This, however, is a very different encounter. The nameless woman appears to have neither said nor done anything to draw Jesus’ attention. Jesus sees the woman, has compassion on her, and reaches out to her.

The woman had been bent and crippled, struggling in every move in every moment. Then, in a word her world is changed. Luke reports, “When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God” (v. 13). She was surrounded by her friends and community of faith. One would think everyone would rejoice with her, yet a voice of objection calls out.

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Luke 12:49-56

This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on August 14, 2016.

02We live in an era in which we get a daily dose of hard news born in hatred, division and violence. Churches and religious leaders search for words, and communities long for action. Do we have a gospel big enough for this moment?

It is easy to preach the pleasant Jesus – Jesus who heals, loves, comforts, feeds and restores. The problem is that the gospel story is more than one of a pasteurized and homogenized pleasant Jesus. Some of Jesus’ words disquiet us. The temptation is to walk away from the difficult words. But, if one desires to proclaim an authentic picture of Jesus, then one must be prepared to hold in tension the good and encouraging words with the difficult ones.

This lectionary passage draws us into words of fire, stress and divided families – of shattered peace and brewing storms. These are difficult and unsettling words from Jesus. In Luke’s gospel account, one feels a growing intensity from the moment Jesus, Peter and John come down the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:37-43), leading up to the moment in our passage. One finds Jesus offering words of judgement on the generation that stood before him and prophetic words of woe for cities, Pharisees and lawyers (Luke 9:4; 10:13-16; 11:29, 37-52). These strong indictments set the context for Jesus’ difficult words we encounter in the focal text.

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Luke 12:32-40

This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on August 7, 2016.

Hermano Leon
Hermano Leon

The combination of these passages is interesting.  At first reading, two seemingly distinct messages are being presented. Verses 32 through 34 instruct the disciples to sell all they have and pursue the unfailing treasure in heaven.  In a dramatic shift in message, verses 35 through 40 compel the disciples to be prepared for the Son of Man’s coming. Broadening this reading to include additional verses before and after in order to break this part of Chapter 12 into two more thematic sections seems logical.

The first thematic section would instruct the disciples to sell all they have and invite the audience to hear Jesus’ teaching on worry.  Verses 22 through 31 would invite the audience to hear Jesus’ teaching on God’s provision and the call to seek God’s kingdom rather than to chase what they hold in their hands. This passage would serve as a natural context for verses 32 through 34.  The second thematic section would be verse 35 through 48. This section would begin with Jesus’ call in verses 35 through 40 to be prepared. Verses 42 through 48 reveal Peter’s question and Jesus’ response, which clarifies Jesus’ call to wait in expectation and faithfulness. These additional verses further elevate the call for the servants to not only be prepared for the master’s coming, but also be a steward of the master’s wishes.

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