Above: A Crucifix
The Real Jesus
The Sunday Closest to September 21
Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost
SEPTEMBER 20, 2015
Note: I have omitted Proverbs 31:10-31, which has no bearing on the other readings.–KRT
FIRST READING AND PSALM: OPTION #1
Wisdom of Solomon 1:16-2:1, 12-24 (New Revised Standard Version):
But the ungodly by their words and deeds summoned death;
considering him a friend, they pined away
and made a covenant with him,
because they are fit to belong to his company.
For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves,
Short and sorrowful is our life,
and there is no remedy when a life comes to its end,
and no one has been known to return from Hades….
Let us lie in wait for the righteous man,
because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions;
he reproaches us for sins against the law,
and accuses of us sins against our training.
He professes to have knowledge of God,
and calls himself a child of the Lord.
He became to us a reproof of our thoughts;
the very sight of him is a burden to us,
because his manner of life is unlike that of others,
and his ways are strange.
We are considered by him as something base,
and he avoids our ways as unclean;
he calls the last end of the righteous happy,
and boasts that God is his father.
Let us see if his words are true,
and let us test what will happen at the end of his life;
for if the righteous man is God’s child, he will help him,
and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries.
Let us test him with insult and torture,
so that we may find out how gentle he is,
and make trial of his forbearance.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death,
for, according to to what he says, he will be protected.
Thus they reasoned , but they were led astray,
for their wickedness blinded them,
and they did not know the secret purposes of God,
nor hoped for the wages of holiness,
nor discerned the prize for blameless souls;
for God created us for incorruption,
and made us in the image of his own eternity,
but through the devil’s envy death entered the world,
and those who belong to his company experience it.
Psalm 91 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):
1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High,
abides under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 He shall say to the LORD,
“You are my refuge and my stronghold,
my God in whom I put my trust.”
3 He shall deliver you from the snare of the hunter,
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He shall cover you with his pinions,
and you shall find refuge under his wings.
5 You shall not be afraid of any terror by night,
nor of the arrow that flies by day;
6 Of the plague that stalks in the darkness,
nor of the sickness that lays waste at mid-day.
7 A thousand shall fall at your side
and ten thousand at your right hand,
but it shall not come near you.
8 Your eyes have only to behold
to see the reward of the wicked.
9 Because you have made the LORD your refuge,
and the Most High your habitation,
10 There shall no evil happen to you,
neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.
11 For he shall give his angels charge over you,
to keep you in all your ways.
12 They shall bear you in their hands,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.
13 You shall tread upon the lion and adder;
you shall trample the young lion and the serpent under your feet.
14 Because he is bound to me in love,
therefore I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him;
I am with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and bring him to honor.
16 With long life will I satisfy him,
and show him my salvation.
FIRST READING AND PSALM: OPTION #2
Jeremiah 11:18-20 (New Revised Standard Version):
It was the LORD who made it made known to me, and I knew;
then you showed me their evil deeds.
But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter.
And I did not know it was against me that they devised schemes, saying,
Let us destroy the tree with its fruit,
let us cut him off from the land of the living,
so that his name will no longer be remembered!
But you, O LORD of hosts, who judge righteously,
who try the heart and the mind,
let me see your retribution upon them,
for to you I have committed my cause.
Psalm 54 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):
1 Save me, O God, by your Name;
in your might, defend my cause.
2 Hear my prayer, O God;
give ear to the words of my mouth.
3 For the arrogant have risen up against me,
and the ruthless have sought my life,
those who have no regard for life.
4 Behold, God is my helper;
it is the Lord who sustains my life.
5 Render evil to those who spy on me;
in your faithfulness, destroy them.
6 I will offer you a freewill sacrifice
and praise your Name, O LORD, for it is good.
7 For you have rescued me from every trouble,
and my eye has seen the ruin of my foes.
James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a (Revised English Bible):
Which of you is wise or learned? Let him give practical proof of it by his right conduct, with the modesty that comes of wisdom. But if you are harbouring bitter jealousy or the spirit of rivalry in your hearts, stop making false claims in defiance of the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes from above; it is earth-bound, sensual, demonic. For with jealousy and rivalry come disorder and the practice of every kind of evil. But the wisdom from above is in the first place pure; and then peace-loving, considerate and sincere, rich in compassion and in deeds of kindness that are its fruit. Peace is the seed-bed of righteousness, and the peacemakers will reap its harvest.
What causes fighting and quarrels among you? Is not their origin the appetites that war in your bodies? You want what you cannot have, so you murder; you are envious, and cannot attain your ambition, so you quarrel and fight. You do not get what you want, because you pray from the wrong motives, in order to squander what you get on your pleasures.
Submit then to God. Stand up to the devil, and he will turn and run. Come close to God, and he will draw close to you
Mark 9:30-37 (Revised English Bible):
They left that district and made their way through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know, because he was teaching his disciples, and telling them,
The Son of Man is now to be handed over into the power of men, and they will kill him; and three days after being killed he will rise again.
But they did not understand what he said, and were afraid to ask.
So they came to Capernaum; and when he had gone indoors, he asked them,
What were you arguing about on the way?
They were silent, because on the way they had been discussing which one of them was the greatest. So he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them,
If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself the last of all and servant of all.
Then he took a child, set him in front of them, and put his arm round him.
Whoever receives a child like this in my name,
receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.
Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Some Related Posts:
Proper 20, Year A:
Proper 20, Year B:
Wisdom of Solomon 1-2:
Matthew 17-18 (Parallel to Mark 9):
Luke 9 (Parallel to Mark 9):
A Prayer for Those Who Have Harmed Us:
O Young and Fearless Prophet:
For Our Enemies:
Ah, Holy Jesus, How Hast Thou Offended:
A Prayer for Grace to Forgive:
For the Cross:
You want something and cannot have it; so you commit murder.
–James 4:20, New Revised Standard Version
Jesus was a great man–and far more than that. He, as a historical figure, obviously proved sufficiently threatening to the authorities of his time and place that the Roman Empire executed him via crucifixion, a method reserved for the allegedly worst of the worst. This was execution as a means of making an example of someone; “Do not do what he did,” the Empire said by killing a man in this fashion in public. Jeremiah also faced threats to his life due to his obedience to God; the prophet died in exile. Jesus and Jeremiah were, in the words of the unrighteous in the Wisdom of Solomon, “inconvenient.”
I have little to write this time, for much commentary on the texts, which speak clearly for themselves, is superfluous. I do have this to add, however: The Jesus of my childhood Sunday School classes was a nice, smiling man whom animals depicted in posters and theChildren’s Living Bible adored. But being nice did not lead to his crucifixion. I grew up with an inadequate, safe, domesticated, and acceptable Jesus–a Jesus who bore little resemblance to the actual figure. The real Jesus was a dangerous man who associated with social outcasts, notorious sinners, and Roman collaborators. He challenged the religious establishment and disturbed the peace. He still challenges our comfort zones. As a cliche tells us, the Gospel comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.
Certain people in authority decided that Jesus had to die for the common good for for the sake of convenience–mostly for the latter. So he became a scapegoat. These men wanted the status quo ante, and Jesus not only rocked the boat but sank it. So they killed him through a perversion of law. It was judicial execution.
May we who claim the label “Christian” realize whom we follow. Then may we, informed by our Lord’s example, rededicate ourselves to our spiritual vocations.
Published originally in a nearly identical form at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on October 24, 2011