This blog is one person’s discipline of bible reading. It makes use of the Episcopal Church’s list of readings for everyday in the year (Lectionary) and gives a personal meditation on it, while remembering what’s going on the world with a headline reference to the news. Readers can access past blogs from the date list on-screen or by googling emmock.com plus scripture reference or theme.
The Gospel for Jews and Gentiles Alike
7 Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.8For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs,9and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,
‘Therefore I will confess* you among the Gentiles, and sing praises to your name’;
10and again he says,
‘Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people’;
‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him’;
12and again Isaiah says,
‘The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles;
in him the Gentiles shall hope.’
13May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
For Paul, trained as a Pharisee, his faith in Jesus, crucified under Jewish Law, as God’s Messiah, was a stunning revelation, as it meant the Law had “failed” and been replaced by the good news of Jesus. He came to believe that the Jewish Law was not God’s final purpose for humanity: it had only been a stage in God’s educative process. Now in Jesus He has revealed his mature purpose, that all humanity should know of his love, receive his Spirit and be received as his children. In order for this to happen Jesus had become a “slave of the circumcised” thus bringing to an end the era of the Law and initiating the era of the Gospel.
Subsequently Paul found prophecies of this momentous change in the Law itself, from which he quotes in this passage.
He is writing to believers in Rome who have heard the gospel not from him but from another missionary. This gives him confidence that God is indeed changing the world through the message about Messiah Jesus.
His blessings are always thoughtful: here, he characterises God as the “God of hope”, that is, as the One who is changing all things for the better; he prays that his readers may have “joy” – a mark of those who know this world is not the whole of reality;and “peace” – the mark of those who no longer need to defend themselves; and hope itself-which is the gift of the Spirit, present in the lives of believers as the promise of “the age to come.” When a person’s faith is evident even in the form and vocabulary of his personal greetings, we can call it authentic.
Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem
28 After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
29 When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples,30saying, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here.31If anyone asks you, “Why are you untying it?” just say this: “The Lord needs it.” ’32So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them.33As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’34They said, ‘The Lord needs it.’35Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it.36As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road.37As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen,38saying,
‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!’
39Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, order your disciples to stop.’40He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.’
Mark’s gospel,which is Luke’s main source for his history, depicts this episode as a dark parody of a Roman triumph. Luke makes it the moment when the multitude of disciples sing their praise of Jesus, as at his birth a multitude of the heavenly host had done. He adds to the word “king” to the psalm of praise and reminds the reader of Jesus’ “deeds of power”. Certainly these willing subjects of King Jesus are poor and powerless people but they are representative of the believers whom Luke trusts to change the world. For Luke the Jerusalem entry is a public declaration of Jesus’ royalty as Messiah, by those who trust in him.
Readers must remember that Luke is writing a generation after the death of Paul and more than thirty years after Pau wrote the passage quoted above. They are slightly different in tone. Paul is full of the miracle of God reaching out to the world through Jesus; Luke emphasises the steady witness of faithful disciples. On this day when the church remembers St. Andrew, the patron saint of my country, we can note that both passages today are appropriate to him: he is shown in scripture bringing people to Jesus; and he is always mentioned as a faithful and steady disciple.
Perhaps today’s readings will remind the reader of all Christianity owes to its Jewish origins; and of the Jewish ethnic priorities it has left behind.