summer solstice!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Baptism of Jesus: Luke

About Luke's Gospel

Luke is the only Gentile, non-Jewish writer in the entire New Testament. Luke was highly educated, a physician, but think "bronze age" in terms of sophistication. Luke wrote a two-volume account, a gospel and the book of the Acts of the Apostles. We often refer to Luke-Acts as one word.

Luke's particular perspective includes an emphasis on:

• world history and Jewish history

• the Spirit – The HS has been prominent throughout the Bible's witness, but Luke-Acts brings a fulfillment of God's reign in the Spirit

• prayer

• women

• marginalized people of every class and type

• table fellowship.

Luke also uniquely includes three psalm-like songs or canticles based on Old Testament sources:

• Mary's Magnificat, "My soul magnifies the Lord; he has put down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up the lowly..." – Luke 1:46-55

• Zechariah's Benedictus, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; he has visited his people." – Luke 1:67-79

• Simeon's Nunc Dimittis: "Lord, now let thy servant depart in peace; mine eyes have seen they salvation, which thou hast prepared..." – Luke 2:29-32

In Luke we find:

• Sermon on the Plain – Luke 6:17-49, which emphasizes the physical re-distributive justice and material well-being. Matthew's parallel Sermon on the Mount is more about spiritual well-being.

• Good Samaritan – Luke 10:25-37

• Stones cry out Luke – 19:37-40

• Emmaus Road in Luke's post-resurrection account takes us back to the Maundy Thursday Upper Room and to Luke's many accounts of Jesus' table fellowship with all comers. – Luke 24:13-35

backtracking:

in Luke's version of Jesus' baptism, before we reach the baptism account, in a passage we read during Advent John tells the people to prepare for God's arrival in their midst, by redistributing the material possessions you have too much of. In any case, God's presence in our midst would be quite an alleluia moment, but we can help make it that way. In the model of God the ultimate giver of gifts, John asks us to give gifts! John asks for economic redistribution. We find what you could call "social gospel" throughout Luke, starting out with John the Baptist down by the riverside.

Invariably and inevitably we read a lot backwards when we interpret scripture. We've been living a lot of the rest of the story, so that's only natural. We interpret scripture in ways similar to looking back and interpreting a lot of past events we experience, as the pieces finally start to fit together. Jesus's baptism by John was not the same as our trinitarian baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and HS. Jesus' baptism continued the Jewish practice of the bath, washing, mikvah that began at Mount Sinai during the Exodus from Egypt, before Moses went up the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments . – Exodus 19:10-14

God's affirming Jesus as beloved son is mostly about Jesus' call and purpose rather than about Jesus' nature. Jesus did not begin his public ministry until his baptism, God's call and claim on him. God's claim on each of us as beloved daughters and son is about God's call and purpose for us.

Immediately after Jesus' baptism and God's identifying Jesus as the beloved son, Luke brings us Jesus' genealogy that ends with son of adam, son of God. Luke's human Jesus and divine Christ both minister to each one's body and spirit.

For Epiphany we discussed the phan root that means appearance, manifestation. We find it in the words Epiphany, Tiffany, Fantasy, and today in Theophany, an appearance of manifestation of God. In this scripture portion we a theophany of Father, the Son, and the Spirit.

Luke describes the Spirit's bodily presence in Jesus, just as the Spirit fills us, we embody God's HS at our baptism, and as the assembled body of Christ, the Church. For Luke-Acts, Jesus is the model for the apostles who are the models for the church. The apostles and the church do everything Jesus does because they have the same Spirit.

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

15As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16John answered all of them by saying, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."

2121Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."

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