This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on November 13th, 2016.
Not unlike the prophets before him, Jesus sees a problem with the status quo. Two chapters earlier he spoke of the demise of the temple as he drove out merchants who’d set up shop in God’s house. In the first four verses of this chapter, the inequity of the status quo is again on display. A poor widow offers her gifts from the depths of her money purse, while the rich toss in the spare change from their own.
The walls of the building were beautifully decorated—tall steeple, fancy chandeliers, an inviting fellowship hall. Yet as is so often the case, humans have a tendency to revere their accomplishments, be it buildings or reputations. The attention to detail as it pertained to the building while neglecting and exploiting the impoverished, signaled a dramatic disconnect from God’s design.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on December 27, 2015.
Luke offers some of the most interesting material about Jesus that is unique to his gospel. The Good Samaritan and Lost Son come to mind immediately, but this text from the infancy narrative is equally intriguing if not as important. We can’t be sure that the other synoptic writers were aware of this story, but it’s reasonable to guess that they may have been. We have evidence for its prolific presence. It turns out Luke’s version is tame when compared to a version of the story that appears in The Infancy Gospel of Thomas in which Jesus makes fools of the elders and teachers with his budding rabbinical “A game.” For this reason, I think it’s interesting to look at this story in its redacted form. Why did Luke include this version of the story?
During these twelve days of Christmas the lectionary has gifted us with a window into Jesus’ twelve-year-old life. Just a year shy of the deepened sense of responsibility that comes with turning thirteen in the Jewish world that he grew up in, Jesus is likely using this opportunity to prepare for adulthood. This is an exclusive look preparing for divine adolescence. We are well aware of the fact that Jesus wore diapers and was wrapped in swaddling clothes like the rest of us, but Luke heightens our sense of Jesus’ own development with this story. Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor. It’s sometimes difficult to think of Jesus having to increase in anything. The early church solved the anthropological problem for us, Jesus is God and man, but Luke reminds us that he grew into those divine and human roles.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year B on November 15, 2015.
Over the years, the thirteenth chapter in Mark’s Gospel has gone by many titles. It has alternatively been called the “Little Apocalypse” because of its hypothesized source material, the “Olivet” discourse for its setting on the Mount of Olives, and the “Eschatological” or “Prophetic” discourse in reference to its presumed genres. One epithet on which scholars can agree for Mark 13 is that of longest discourse in the Gospel of Mark.
Aside from its pride of length, the passage’s pride of place in this gospel clearly signals to Mark’s audience its importance. Its narrative placement as the final teaching material of Jesus’ ministry and as the speech that occurs immediately before the start of his passion shows that it obviously must be a significant discourse. Open a commentary to its discussion of this passage, however, and you will likely be told that, although it is extremely important, it is also one of the most notoriously problematic parts of the NT to interpret.