The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Gender-crashing, power-bashing: Readings for Sunday, June 17

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Ah, here are Sunday’s delicious enigmas! And here is Jesus again, going to bat for someone of low status and bad reputation who gender-crashes the Upstanding Men’s Club and shows honest affection in the face of self-righteous pomposity.  And here (1 Kings, ca. 900 B.C.), God brings retribution for the losses of the powerless at the hands of the powerful. And at the end, Paul writes that “rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion” is the antithesis of what he’s after (rather a contrast to modern misunderstandings of his role!)

Should be a delightful week’s work! Click on the image, below, for a larger view of Rubens’ 1618 take on the Luke story. Thanks for reading!

Proper 6 (11): June 17, 2007

1 Kings 21:1-10, (11-14), 15-21a; Psalm 5:1-8; Galatians 2:15-21; Luke 7:36-8:3

Rubens, 1618

Luke 7:36-8:3
Anointing His Feet
36-39One of the Pharisees asked him over for a meal. He went to the Pharisee’s house and sat down at the dinner table. Just then a woman of the village, the town harlot, having learned that Jesus was a guest in the home of the Pharisee, came with a bottle of very expensive perfume and stood at his feet, weeping, raining tears on his feet. Letting down her hair, she dried his feet, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfume. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man was the prophet I thought he was, he would have known what kind of woman this is who is falling all over him.”

40Jesus said to him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Oh? Tell me.”

41-42″Two men were in debt to a banker. One owed five hundred silver pieces, the other fifty. Neither of them could pay up, and so the banker canceled both debts. Which of the two would be more grateful?”
43-47Simon answered, “I suppose the one who was forgiven the most.”

“That’s right,” said Jesus. Then turning to the woman, but speaking to Simon, he said, “Do you see this woman? I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn’t quit kissing my feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn’t it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.”

48Then he spoke to her: “I forgive your sins.”
49That set the dinner guests talking behind his back: “Who does he think he is, forgiving sins!”
50He ignored them and said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

[Luke 8]
1-3He continued according to plan, traveled to town after town, village after village, preaching God’s kingdom, spreading the Message. The Twelve were with him. There were also some women in their company who had been healed of various evil afflictions and illnesses: Mary, the one called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out; Joanna, wife of Chuza, Herod’s manager; and Susanna—along with many others who used their considerable means to provide for the company.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

1 Kings 21
1-2And then, to top it off, came this: Naboth the Jezreelite owned a vineyard in Jezreel that bordered the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. One day Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, “Give me your vineyard so I can use it as a kitchen garden; it’s right next to my house—so convenient. In exchange I’ll give you a far better vineyard, or if you’d prefer I’ll pay you money for it.”

3-4 But Naboth told Ahab, “Not on your life! So help me God, I’d never sell the family farm to you!” Ahab went home in a black mood, sulking over Naboth the Jezreelite’s words, “I’ll never turn over my family inheritance to you.” He went to bed, stuffed his face in his pillow, and refused to eat.

5 Jezebel his wife came to him. She said, “What’s going on? Why are you so out of sorts and refusing to eat?”
6 He told her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite. I said, ‘Give me your vineyard—I’ll pay you for it or, if you’d rather, I’ll give you another vineyard in exchange.’ And he said, ‘I’ll never give you my vineyard.'”
7 Jezebel said, “Is this any way for a king of Israel to act? Aren’t you the boss? On your feet! Eat! Cheer up! I’ll take care of this; I’ll get the vineyard of this Naboth the Jezreelite for you.”

8-10 She wrote letters over Ahab’s signature, stamped them with his official seal, and sent them to the elders in Naboth’s city and to the civic leaders. She wrote “Call for a fast day and put Naboth at the head table. Then seat a couple of stool pigeons across from him who, in front of everybody will say, ‘You! You blasphemed God and the king!’ Then they’ll throw him out and stone him to death.” […]

15 When Jezebel got word that Naboth had been stoned to death, she told Ahab, “Go for it, Ahab—take the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite for your own, the vineyard he refused to sell you. Naboth is no more; Naboth is dead.”
16 The minute Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he set out for the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite and claimed it for his own.

17-19 Then God stepped in and spoke to Elijah the Tishbite, “On your feet; go down and confront Ahab of Samaria, king of Israel. You’ll find him in the vineyard of Naboth; he’s gone there to claim it as his own. Say this to him: ‘God’s word: What’s going on here? First murder, then theft?’ Then tell him, ‘God’s verdict: The very spot where the dogs lapped up Naboth’s blood, they’ll lap up your blood—that’s right, your blood.'”

20-21a Ahab answered Elijah, “My enemy! So, you’ve run me down!”
“Yes, I’ve found you out,” said Elijah. “And because you’ve bought into the business of evil, defying God. ‘I will most certainly bring doom upon you …'”

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Galatians 2:15-21
15-16We Jews know that we have no advantage of birth over “non-Jewish sinners.” We know very well that we are not set right with God by rule-keeping but only through personal faith in Jesus Christ. How do we know? We tried it—and we had the best system of rules the world has ever seen! Convinced that no human being can please God by self-improvement, we believed in Jesus as the Messiah so that we might be set right before God by trusting in the Messiah, not by trying to be good.

17-18Have some of you noticed that we are not yet perfect? (No great surprise, right?) And are you ready to make the accusation that since people like me, who go through Christ in order to get things right with God, aren’t perfectly virtuous, Christ must therefore be an accessory to sin? The accusation is frivolous. If I was “trying to be good,” I would be rebuilding the same old barn that I tore down. I would be acting as a charlatan.

19-21What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.

Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson


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Written by Monte

June 13, 2007 at 4:13 pm

2 Responses

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  1. So it might seem! But he barely mentions the water itself in either case. Do you think that’s really what he’s trying to say?

    Monte

    June 16, 2007 at 8:29 pm

  2. In Luke 7, Jesus lambasts Pharisees for not providing him with water to wash his feet before he eats, and in Luke 11, Jesus lambasts Pharisees for washing their hands before they eat.

    Jesus was a hard dinner-guest to please.

    Steven Carr

    June 16, 2007 at 12:49 pm


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