Pentecost 14 – September 10, 2017

Texts for the Day

Commentary and Reflection

Lamb of God – The story from Exodus this week contains an image that has been applied to Jesus since New Testament times.  Each week, when we sing, “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,” we identify Jesus as the Passover Lamb.

Read Revelation 5:6-14 for another instance of this image.  The Lamb returns in the vision of the heavenly Jerusalem in Revelation 21-22.  What do you think of this?  Does it help you understand the Exodus story?  Or is it a distraction from the original purpose of the Passover?

Son of Man – The opening sentence from Ezekiel presents an interesting translation challenge.  The NRSV says, “mortal,” but the text literally says, “Son of Man.”  The translation is correct, as “Son of Man” is an idiomatic expression that can mean human being.  However, since the New Testament and later Christianity apply the title to Jesus, the translator has a difficulty.  By translating literally or not, the translator is offering an opinion to the reader about whether or not the passage refers to Jesus.  Take a look at a few other instances of this phrase in the Old Testament in as many translations as you have time for.

  • Daniel 7:13
  • Psalm 8:4
  • Numbers 23:19

What do you think of the choices the translators made?  Would you do any of them differently?

Difficult Passages – The lectionary plays a little trick on us, skipping some controversial verses between last week’s selection and today’s. Read Romans 13:1-7, where Paul urges obedience to civil authorities. These words do not appear to leave space for the democratic process and run counter to the idea of civil disobedience, a crucial concept in contemporary political and religious thought.

Questions for reflection:

  • What do you think Paul meant? What do they tell us now?
  • In a lectionary designed for public worship, is it appropriate to omit difficult or controversial passages? What about private Bible study?

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