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Proper 5 | Ordinary Time 10 | Pentecost 3 (Cycle C)

Sunday between June 5 and June 11 inclusive (if after Trinity Sunday)

The principal theme in these texts is that the Lord (Adonai in the Israelite Scriptures and Jesus as the Christ in the Newer Testament) renews life. There is a progression in the texts from lifting up those who are bowed down in Psalm 146 to healing those who are at the point of death in Psalm 30 and 1 Kings 17:17-24 to bringing back to life a young man who was being carried out of a city to be buried in Luke 7:11-17. The Galatians 1:11-24 reading may seem to stand outside this theme, unless we articulate “the gospel that Paul proclaimed” (Galatians 1:11) as the good news that God raised Jesus from the dead and will also raise us from the dead.

Psalm 146

It is wise to put one’s trust in the Lord God of Jacob, who created and sustains the universe and provides justice for the oppressed and food for those who are hungry, who lifts up those who are bowed down and opens the eyes of the blind. It is not wise to trust in the political leaders of this world, who are mortal and transient. Not they, but the Lord God maintains and renews life.

Psalm 30

This beautiful Individual Hymn of Praise glorifies the Lord God for bringing the nephesh (the life, the animating principle) of the psalmist back from sheol (the abode of the dead). In its original setting, this psalm acclaims Adonai for providing a resuscitation, not a resurrection. The restorations to life proclaimed in this psalm and in the Elijah and Elisha stories (1 Kings 17:8-16, [17-24] used here with this text and in 2 Kings 4:8-37) are manifestations of the power and of the love shown by Adonai. They are intended to encourage people to respond to Adonai with praise and thanksgiving.

1 Kings 17:8-16 (17-24)

For the complete picture of this account, the reading should begin with 1 Kings 17:1 and continue to the conclusion of the chapter.

We should note that the power to renew life in the young man in this text comes from the Lord (Adonai). The power is not inherent in Elijah. Also, what Elijah prays for and receives is that the nephesh (the life, the animating principle of life) return to the young man. What is said to have left and then to have returned here is the same word (nephesh) used in Psalm 30. A person who has lost one’s nephesh shows no signs of life. A person is still a person without one’s nephesh, but without one’s nephesh a person can do nothing.

The primary purpose of 1 Kings 17:8-16 (17-24) apparently is to demonstrate that the power of Adonai was active in Elijah. Elijah was obviously a man of God, divinely inspired and empowered.

Luke 7:11-17

This account is another excellent example of how the inspired Lukan writer used the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible to move beyond Mark’s account. In this instance, the event is Jesus’ raising the daughter of Jairus who had just died and returning her alive to her grateful parents.

There are differences, of course, between the stories about the power of Elijah and the power of Jesus perceived as the Christ. Within the stories about Jesus as the Christ there is no necessity for Jesus to pray to God for the power to restore life. Jesus as the Christ is represented as inherently having the power and authority of God to be able to restore life. Jesus as the Christ in the Newer Testament is presented as similar to Elijah and to Elisha, but vastly superior to them. For us as Christians, God acts in a unique way in and through Jesus perceived as the Christ.

Galatians 1:11-24

Within the heat of controversy with other early developing Christians over the lifestyle appropriate for non-Jewish background followers of Jesus, the Apostle Paul claimed that the gospel that he was proclaiming came to him through a revelation of Jesus the Christ. Paul’s concern was that the gospel from Jesus Christ and about Jesus Christ be accepted by as many people as possible. Paul wanted no lifestyle hindrances to get in the way of people accepting the grace and forgiveness of God, just as for us today no lifestyle hindrances should be permitted to get in the way of people accepting the grace and forgiveness of God. The good news that God has raised Jesus from the dead and will restore and renew life for all who will accept the grace of God through Jesus Christ is the climax of the series of texts selected for our use on this occasion. It should be the climax also of the good news that we proclaim.

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Authors of
Lectionary Scripture Notes
Norman A. Beck is the Poehlmann Professor of Theology and Classical Languages and the Chairman of the Department of Theology, Philosophy, and Classical Languages at Texas Lutheran University
Dr. Norman A. Beck
Mark Ellingsen is professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia
Dr. Mark Ellingsen