Keyword Search

  • Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company
    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

Proper 14 | Ordinary Time 19, Cycle B (2015)

United in the grace of Christ. This is a Sunday for sermons on Sin, forgiveness (Justification by Grace), and the strength for living the Christian life (Sanctification) that this grace affords.

Psalm 130
A lament prayer for deliverance from personal trouble. This is one of the Songs of Ascent (or Pilgrim Psalms). Recall that such Psalms are so-named for referring to the ascent of pilgrims to Jerusalem on the way to the temple, which required of them an ascent up a mountain. (Some instead claim that these Psalms are so named because they have an ascending style of poetic form.)

The psalmist begins with a cry for help (vv. 1-2). He notes that though none are worthy to stand before God, yet he is forgiving (vv. 3-4). He vows to wait [qauah] for Yahweh and hope [yachal] (vv. 5-6). God is portrayed as a God of steadfast love/mercy [chesed]. The psalmist assures that he will redeem [padah] Israel (vv. 7-8).

Application: This Psalm invites sermons on Sin and our forgiveness (Justification by Grace and Atonement).


Psalm 34:1-8
This is a thanksgiving for deliverance from trouble, traditionally attributed to David when he feigned madness before Abimelich so that he drove him out (1 Samuel 20:10-15, where the king on whom David played this trick is King Achish of Gath). There is also an instructional and didactic agenda. The Psalm is acrostic, so that every verse begins with a different successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It begins with a hymn of praise (vv. 1-3). The psalmist accounts his seeking the Lord and God’s goodness [tob] in delivering him (vv. 4, 6). The same faith is commended to the congregation. The Lord’s goodness is extolled, and the happiness/blessedness [ashere] of the faithful is noted (vv. 7-8).

Application: The Psalm provides an occasion to proclaim God’s goodness in the midst of our trails and difficult situations (Justification by Grace and Providence). The implications of this awareness and experience for living happy, blessed lives (Sanctification), what such a life looks and feels like, might also be addressed.

2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33
We are reminded again that the origin of this book as a distinct text derives from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (the Septuagint), which divided the story of Israel’s monarchy into four sections (1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings). This book is probably the result of two or three sources: 1) Early traditions about Samuel and Saul; 2) Editor-molded materials brought together into a connected history, implying a critique of the events, deeming kingship as problematic, and so must be set under the rule of God and Samuel his prophet; 3) Incorporating the previous strand into the more Deuteronomistic (D) history (the result of sweeping religious reforms under King Josiah in 621 BC). The role of this last source not surprisingly entails that a central theme is the struggle to remain obedient to Torah, to be God’s covenant people, and to inherit divine blessings. We note again that this book especially relates to the reign of David as King of Israel.

This lesson is an account of the battle of the forest of Ephraim and David’s army’s triumph over the forces of his rebellious son Absalom (vv. 5-8), Absalom’s death (vv. 9, 15), and David’s grief (vv. 31-33). The narrative may have been addressed to the citizens of Israel who were outraged by Absalom’s execution. For the account seems to shield David from blame.

The account commences with David instructing his military leaders to deal gently [leat] with Absalom (v. 5). David’s army routs Absalom’s forces (largely assembled with support from the northern tribes of Israel [15:9-12]) (vv. 6-8). Absalom’s head was caught in an oak and left hanging. He had been riding a mule, the customary mount for royalty (which he was claiming for himself) (v. 9). The lesson omits the ethical struggles of David’s captain Joab, who finally thrust spears at Absalom (vv. 10-14). Eventually the armor-bearers kill Absalom (v. 15). The lesson omits a burial of Absalom and the desire of Ahimaaz (the son of a priest) to inform David of the outcome. Joab had chosen a Cushite (a black man from Africa) as his emissary (vv. 16-30).

Application: A sermon telling the story of David’s compassion to Absalom, despite his son’s betrayal, can be used to help us appreciate our own betrayals (Sin and Social Ethics), but also catch glimpses in David’s love of God’s compassion to us (Justification by Grace), binding us to those whom we have betrayed (Sanctification).


1 Kings 19:4-8
This book and 2 Kings were originally one book, providing an account of Israel’s history from the death of David through Jehoiachim’s release from a Babylonian prison. There is speculation that these texts are the product of the Deuteronomistic reform of Josiah, but later revised after the exile in 587 BC. This book recounts the history from the end of the reign of David (circa 961 BC) through the reign of Ahaziah (850-849 BC). This chapter recounts God’s revelation to Elijah on Mount Horeb and the lesson recounts the prophet fleeing King Ahab and his approach to the mountain (the place where the northern tribes believed the Lord had revealed the law to Moses).

Elijah is said to have gone a day’s journey into the wilderness, and then he came and sat down under a broom tree. He asks that he might die, as he laments that he is no better than his ancestors (v. 4). Falling asleep, an angel [malak, literally a “messenger”] touches him and tells him to get up and eat (v. 5). And at his head was a cake baked on stones and a jar of water. Elijah eats them and then lays down again (v. 6). Yahweh’s angel comes a second time, wakes Elijah again and tells him to eat in preparation for the journey. The prophet arises, ate and then on the strength of that food journeys forty days to Horeb, the mount of the God (vv. 7-8).

Application: The text provides an occasion to reflect on God’s compassionate care for us, that when we are most in despair God finds a way to care and strengthen us for the journey, brings us into his presence as he did with Elijah in bringing him into his presence (Providence, Sin, Justification by Grace, and Sanctification).

Ephesians 4:25–5:2
We note again that this book is a circular letter, either written by Paul from prison late in his career or by a follower of the apostle who had had a hand in assembling the collection of his epistles. It was likely addressed to a younger, later generation of Christians (1:15). This lesson is an appeal by the author to renounce pagan ways (begun earlier in chapter 4) [v. 17]. Among the behaviors exhorted include speaking truth, not letting the sun go down on one’s anger/

provocation [parorgismo], giving no opportunity to the devil, working honestly so as to share with the poor and only talking constructively about what builds up (4:25-29). Exhortation is offered that we not grieve [lupeo]the Holy Spirit with which the faithful are sealed [sphragizo] for the day of redemption [apolutrosis] (v. 30). Other behaviors exhorted include putting away all bitterness, wrangling, and slander, while being kind [chrestus] and forgiving [charizomai] as God in Christ forgave us (4:31-32a). Readers are urged not to grieve [lupeo] the Holy Spirit, with which the faithful have been marked as a seal (4:30). Forgiveness through God in Christ is proclaimed (4:32b). But we are exhorted to imitate [mimetai] God, to love [agapao] as Christ loved us in offering a sacrifice [thusia] to God (5:1-2).

Application: The text invites sermons that proclaim forgiveness (Justification by Grace) and to portray the Christian life as following from it. Sanctification behaviors (which include acting out our unity [including concern for the poor]) might also be the topic for sermons, making sure that the Holy Spirit’s work is stressed.

John 6:35, 41-51
The gospel is again drawn from the last of the gospels to be written, probably not composed until the last two decades of the first century. We have noted that it is very different in style in comparison to the other three (so-called Synoptic) Gospels. It is probably based on these earlier gospels. The book has been identified with John the Son of Zebedee, the disciple whom Jesus loved, and this claim was made as long ago as late in the first century by the famed theologian of the early church Irenaeus (Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, p. 414). It is likely that it was written by a disciple of John. It was probably written for a Jewish Christian community in conflict with the synagogue, one in which Christians had been expelled from Jewish society. Its aim was to encourage its readers to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God (20:31).

The lesson begins like last week’s gospel ended, with Jesus’ identification of himself as the bread of life [artos tes zoes], that whoever comes to him will never hunger or thirst (v. 35). Several verses not included in the lesson follow, in which Jesus assures hearers that everything the Father gives him will come, and that he will never drive away those who come, for God’s will is that he should lose nothing but raise it up on the last day (vv. 36-40). Jews then protest his identification of himself as the bread that came down from heaven, for he is just the son of Joseph (vv. 41-42).

Jesus then warns against complaining, noting that none can come to him unless drawn [helkuo] by the Father (vv. 43-44). As implied in verse 37, faith is God’s work. His response continues; all are taught by God, so that everyone who learned from the Father comes to Jesus, for he alone is the one who has seen the Father (vv. 45-46; only the Son has seen the Father, see 1:18). Jesus proceeds to assert again that he is the bread of life and that the Jewish ancestors eating manna in the wilderness still died, but that those eating his bread have eternal life [zoe aionios]. This bread given for the life of the world is his flesh (vv. 48-51). The text here aims to emphasize Jesus’ role as the true giver of life.

Application: Sermons on this text should proclaim how Christ’s presence in our lives, his union with us (Christology and Justification by Grace) and the Sacraments (construed as Christ’s presence in the elements) strengthen us in facing everyday life.

Leave a Reply

  • Get Your FREE 30-day Trial Subscription to SermonSuite NOW!
    Chris Keating
    The Double-Dog Dare Days of August
    August’s lazy, hazy dog days quickly became a deadly double-dog dare contest between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, the supreme leader of North Korea. Both nations have been at odds with each other for nearly 70 years. During his working golf vacation in New Jersey last week, President Trump responded to North Korea’s rhetorical sword-rattling by launching a verbal preemptive strike of his own.
         Call it the Bedminster bombast, or the putt that rocked Pyongyang. But the duel between the two countries is more than fodder for late-night comedians. It’s a deadly standoff with history-changing repercussions.
         There is no vacation from matters of national security, or the orations of war. Indeed, much of the war of words between Washington and North Korea seems to confirm Jesus’ counsel in Matthew: “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” The contrasts between these barbed exchanges and the biblical understanding of peacemaking offers an intriguing opportunity to hear Jesus’ words in a world filled with double-dog (and even triple-dog) dares....more
    Feeding The 5,000
    The assigned Gospel text for this week skips over a couple of sections in Matthew's story. Matthew 14:34-36 cites Jesus' journey to Gennesaret. The crowds of people recognized him immediately and all of the sick came to him for healing. Just a touch of Jesus' garment brought healing to many. The crowd in Gennesaret recognized Jesus. They came to him in their need....more
    Wayne Brouwer
    Religious balkanization
    One dimension of religious life we have in common across faith traditions and denominational lines is the incessant divisiveness that split our seemingly monolithic communities into dozens of similar yet tenaciously varied subgroups. A Jewish professor of psychology said of his tradition, "If there are ten Jewish males in a city we create a synagogue. If there are eleven Jewish males we start thinking about creating a competing synagogue."...more
    C. David McKirachan
    Jesus Is Coming, Look Busy
    Isaiah 56:1, 6-8
    I had a parishioner who would walk out of the sanctuary if he saw a djembe (African drum) out in front to be used in worship.  I asked him about it, in a wonderfully pastoral manner, and he told me that things like that didn’t belong in worship.  I said that it was in the bible to praise God with pipes and drums (I think it is).  He told me he didn’t care what the Bible said, he knew where that thing came from and he wouldn’t have it.  I asked him why things from Africa would bother him.  He told me that he knew I was liberal but that didn’t mean he had to be.  I agreed with him but cautioned him that racism was probably one of the worst examples of evil in our world and I thought he should consider what Christ would think of that.  He asked me who paid my salary, Christ or good Americans....more
    Janice Scott
    No Strings Attached
    In today's gospel reading, Jesus seemed reluctant to heal the Canaanite woman's daughter. He told her that he wasn't sent to help foreigners, but only his own people, the Chosen Race. The words sound unnecessarily harsh, but perhaps this is an interpretation unique to Matthew, for this story only appears in Matthew's gospel, which was written for Jews....more
    Arley K. Fadness
    Great Faith
    Object: Hula Hoop or circle made out of ribbon, twine or rope
    What an amazing morning to come to church today. I am so glad to see you and talk to you about a wonderful story from the bible. Let me begin by showing you this circle. Now let's get into this circle. (Physically, all move into the circle) It's fun for us all to be together in this circle. We don't want anyone to be left out. To be left out is to be sad. To be kept out is even more sad and painful....more

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