This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on February 19th, 2017.
Paul writes to the church at Corinth from Ephesus while demonstrating his deep love for the church and his debt to God’s grace. Paul’s word to the church faces three critical challenges. First, the culture at Corinth presents an almost overwhelming challenge. Imagine walking through Corinth near the time of Paul’s writing around A.D. 54 or 55. The hustle and bustle marketplace in the city, people buying and selling, would grab your attention. Architecture would also catch your eye: the bema, a huge public platform used for legal proceedings (Acts 18:12-17) or the Temple of Octavia, a pagan temple dedicated to Caesar Augustus used for emperor worship or the famed temple of Aphrodite, goddess of love where temple prostitutes gathered and other temples such as the Temple of Apollo or the Temple of Asclepius, god of healing. The beautiful also served as a major trade route.
As a side note, during the reigns of the Roman emperors Tiberius, Gaius, and Claudius (A.D. 41-54) each one constructed many projects and new buildings. Outsiders to Corinth, though, knew that “to be a Corinthian” meant to live a life of immorality. The Temple of Aphrodite contributed to this label.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on May 22, 2016.
In the final section of his Farewell Discourse to the disciples, Jesus focuses further on the role of the Holy Spirit (literally, the Paraclete). Most of what is said in this section repeats themes that have already appeared: the gift of the Spirit to the disciples (church), the Spirit’s relation to Jesus, the Spirit being the continuing presence of Jesus, the Spirit of truth reminding the disciples of all Jesus had taught. Now we hear these themes again, but with nuances that take us deeper into their meaning.
What might Jesus mean by the phrase “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now”? We understand that Jesus can’t teach them everything he would like because his own time in the flesh is limited, but this saying puts the emphasis on the condition of learning that disciples are yet unprepared for. To bear means to carry, as in a load or weight. Metaphorically, it is tied to suffering. The disciples were not in a position to understand what Jesus might say to them about some things, since they had not yet experienced the suffering that would be coming for them. Suffering is a teacher. It opens one up to learning that could not be gained without it. The disciples still harbored hopes of Jesus’ messianic success that comported with their vision of the reign of God. In that vision, they would join in the prosperity of Jesus’ victory over the powers of the world. Only after suffering the loss of such dreams as a result of Jesus’ death, their own rejection by religious authorities, and persecution by pagan powers would they be in position to receive what Jesus wanted them to know.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year B on November 22, 2015.
Today’s passage offers a glimpse into Pilate’s private investigation of Jesus as described in the Gospel of John. Most of the conversation is comprised of material unique to this Gospel except for the central question from which this Sunday’s festival of “Christ the King” takes its name. Each one of the Gospels records that “Are you the King of the Jews?” was Pilate’s first question during his tête–à–tête with Jesus (Matthew 27:11; Mark 15:2; Luke 23:3; John 18:33). The fact that all four preserve this same question and place it first speaks to the significance of the charge at Jesus’ trial and to the strength of this memory among the early Church.
Up to this point in the Gospel of John, “King” and “kingdom” language has been noticeably sparse (occurring only in 1:49; 3:5; and 12:13), especially in comparison with the emphasis on the “kingdom of God” in Jesus’ teaching in the Synoptics. In John’s passion narrative, however, Jesus’ kingship takes on a more prominent role (cf. 18:33, 36, 37; 19:19, 21) because of the trial charge.