Posts

The Scandal of the Gospel (preaching resource for Pentecost 10: 7/28/24)

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This post exegetes John chapter 6, providing context for the RCL Gospel reading on 7/28/24 (Pentecost 10). This exegesis draws on commentary from Warren Wiersbe in "The Bible Exposition Commentary," Michael Card in "The Parable of Joy," and F.F. Bruce in "The Gospel of John."  "Bread of Life" by Mironov (public domain via Wikimedia Commons) Introduction John 6 addresses a significant turning point in Jesus’ ministry. Here he ministers to the crowd and his disciples—granting both grace and truth; food and teaching—revealing through both more of his true identity. The response is a reminder of the scandal of the gospel, the hardness of the human heart, and the overwhelming grace of our Savior. The events of this chapter occur near the third Passover of Jesus’ ministry. Time is short. Jesus’ death is only a year away. Jesus ‘ramps up’ his work and teaching. Jesus feeds the crowd  John 6:1-13 The words “some time after this" clue us in that some

The Powers of the Kingdom (preaching resource for Pentecost 8 & 9: 7/14 & 7/21/24)

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This post exegetes Mark chapter 6, providing context for the RCL Gospel readings on 7/14/24 (Pentecost 8) and 7/21/24 (Pentecost 9). This exegesis draws on commentary from Alan Cole in "The New Bible Commentary," John Grassmick in "The Bible Knowledge Commentary" and N.T. Wright in "Mark for Everyone."  "Christ Heals the Deaf and Stammering" by DeVere (public domain via Wikimedia Commons) Introduction Mark chapter 6 continues a subsection of Mark's Gospel where Jesus is using miracles to demonstrate the powers of the Kingdom which he possesses as Messiah (the Kingdom’s King). Chapter 6 opens by noting the limitations of such miracles, then continues with stories of a few more miracles.  1. The limitation of miracles  Mark 6:1-6 A common theme of Mark’s Gospel is that Jesus’ miracles often do little to illicit faith in those who witness them. This is a reminder that miracles in themselves do not produce faith—rather they are intended to witnes

Encouragement for Christians who suffer in Christ’s service (preaching resource for Pentecost 7: 7/7/24)

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This post exegetes 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 providing context for the RCL Epistle reading on 7/7/24 (Pentecost 7). This exegesis draws on commentary from Warren Wiersbe in "The Bible Exposition Commentary" and Colin Kruse  in "The New Bible Commentary."  "St. Paul" by Carpilo (public domain via Wkimedia Commons) Introduction  Paul is in the midst of a very painful time in his ministry. He finds it necessary to defend himself against false charges leveled against him by his opponents in the Corinthian church. Chief among his opponents are the Judaizers—false teachers who are tearing down Paul in order to promote themselves. In chapter 11 Paul counters their false claims by recounting his sufferings to serve Christ—a qualification the Judaizers cannot claim. Now in chapter 12, Paul adds to his defense the record of three personal experiences with Jesus. Through his third-person account (speaking in the third person was a common rabbinic device) we learn a great

Parable of the barren fig tree

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In Luke chapter 13, Jesus gives this parable of the barren fig tree:  A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, "See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?" He replied, "Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down." ( vv6–9, NRSV) "The Vine Dresser and the Fig Tree" by Tissot (public domain via Wikimedia Commons) What is the meaning of this parable?  Dr. Joseph Tkach, former Grace Communion International President, offers the following explanation. I have seen that many assume the vineyard owner is God the Father. Rather, the realization struck me that Jesus is talking to humanity here referring to each one of us as a vineyard owner. Since the vineyard owner in t

Characteristics of Grace Giving (preaching resource for Pentecost 6: 6/30/24)

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This post exegetes 2 Corinthians chapter 8, providing context for the RCL Epistle readings on 6/30/24 (Pentecost 6). This exegesis draws on commentary from Warren Wiersbe ("The Bible Exposition Commentary") and Colin Kruse ("The New Bible Commentary").  "Sermon of St. Paul Amidst the Ruins" by Pannini (public domain via Wikimedia Commons) Introduction   Paul was collecting a special offering to assist impoverished Christians in Judea. The blessings he hoped to see coming from the offering included not only relief for the poor, but also increased unity between Gentile and Jewish believers. Unfortunately, the church at Corinth was not doing its part. They had pledged to contribute, but had failed to follow through. Paul saw this as a lack of spiritual vitality manifested in a lack of generosity. To encourage them to generosity, Paul addresses the topic of grace giving, which is our participation, by grace, in the generosity of Jesus who lived what he taught:

Paul’s Appeal to Active Participation (preaching resource for Pentecost 5: 6/23/24)

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This post exegetes 2 Corinthians chapters 6 & 7, providing context for the RCL Epistle reading on 6/23/24 (Pentecost 5). This exegesis draws on commentary from Warren Wiersbe ("The Bible Exposition Commentary") and Colin Kruse ("The New Bible Commentary").  "Worth of a Soul" by Liz Lemon Swindle (used with artist's permission) Introduction   In 2 Corinthians chapter 5, Paul rejoices in the reconciliation that all humanity has with God through the representative, substitutionary (vicarious) life of Jesus our Creator, Sustainer, Savior and Lord. Now in chapters 6 and 7 he appeals to the church to participate actively and faithfully in Jesus’ life: “As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain” (2Cor 6:1). Paul’s appeal has three parts. 1. Capitalize on the opportunity  2Cor 6:1–10 Paul first appeals to the Corinthians to join with him in capitalizing on the opportunity that is now present because of what Jesus has do

Motives for Ministry (preaching resource for Pentecost 4: 6/16/24)

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This post exegetes 2 Corinthians 5:9-21, providing context for the RCL Epistle reading on 6/16/24 (Pentecost 4). This exegesis draws on commentary from Warren Wiersbe ("The Bible Exposition Commentary"). "Lost and Found" by Greg Olsen (used with artist's permission) Introduction In his epistles, Paul frequenly uses the word “therefore” as he transitions from explanation to application. We see this in 2 Corinthians 5 whre Paul's overall theme is  motivation for ministry. Paul's enemies in Corinth and elswhere were accusing him of having selfish motives. He counters such accusations by outlining from his own experience three acceptable motives for ministry. 1. Reverence for Christ  2 Cor. 5:9–13 Paul writes, “[We] know what it is to fear the Lord...." (2 Cor. 5:11)—an attitude of awe  and deep reverence for God that is often lacking in ministry. Paul explained this motive by sharing his own testimony in three powerful statements. We labor (2 Cor. 5: