Sunday, Jan 24, 2010: “Today’s Scripture Readings”

St. Mark’s Adult Education Meeting Summary
Today’s Scripture Readings
An In-Depth Discussion Led by The Rev. Mike Kreutzer
Sunday, January 24, 2010


Nehemiah (8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10):


All the people gathered together into the square before the Water Gate. They told the scribe Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had given to Israel. Accordingly, the priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding. This was on the first day of the seventh month. He read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. Then Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. Then they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. So they read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”


– People of Israel back from exile for about 100 years

– Mid-400 BCE

– Under control of Persians — things still in chaos

– Nehemiah was to go back and help rebuild the walls of Jerusalem

– Ezra was priest and scribe; Nehemiah was governor

– Ezra tells the people they have not been faithful to the Torah

– However, don’t weep about that — you now know your faults — rejoice!

– Symbolizes a new beginning


Psalm 19:

1 The heavens declare the glory of God, *
and the firmament shows his handiwork.

2 One day tells its tale to another, *
and one night imparts knowledge to another.

3 Although they have no words or language, *
and their voices are not heard,

4 Their sound has gone out into all lands, *
and their message to the ends of the world.

5 In the deep has he set a pavilion for the sun; *
it comes forth like a bridegroom out of his chamber;
it rejoices like a champion to run its course.

6 It goes forth from the uttermost edge of the heavens and runs about to the end of it again; *
nothing is hidden from its burning heat.

7 The law of the Lord is perfect and revives the soul; *
the testimony of the Lord is sure and gives wisdom to the innocent.

8 The statutes of the Lord are just and rejoice the heart; *
the commandment of the Lord is clear and gives light to the eyes.

9 The fear of the Lord is clean and endures for ever; *
the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

10 More to be desired are they than gold,
more than much fine gold, *
sweeter far than honey, than honey in the comb. 

11 By them also is your servant enlightened, *
and in keeping them there is great reward.

12 Who can tell how often he offends? *
cleanse me from my secret faults.

13 Above all, keep your servant from presumptuous sins;
let them not get dominion over me;*
then shall I be whole and sound,
and innocent of a great offense.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, *
O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.


– Most likely two different Psalms (1-6) and (7-14)

– There is a parallel between the two

– (1-6): Glory of creation for everyone to see

– Everything is happening in the universe according to God’s will and it is good

– (7-14): Just as nature follows God’s law and is perfect, so shall we do the same

– Torah was not just the law, but instructions from God on how to live in harmony

– The name of the Lord is first mentioned six times

– People not only have known faults, but unknown faults as well

– In the last verse, the Lord is mentioned the seventh time — parallel with creation


I Corinthians (12:12-31a):


Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?


– Lots of divisions in the church

– Paul explains that each person’s gift is important but must work together as a whole

– All the parts are needed to make it whole

– If one suffers, then everyone suffers

– Not everyone can do the same thing, but each is important

– Image of the church as the body of Christ


Luke (4:14-21):


Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”


– Two weeks ago we studied the baptism o f Jesus — driven by the Spirit

– The same Spirit leads Jesus to Galilee

– Praised by everyone there

– Then moved to Nazareth

– It was Jesus’ turn to explain the scripture reading

– Unrolled the scroll to Isaiah 62

– It gives hope that God will send a Messiah

– Jesus proclaims that this promise is happening now!

– Sets the stage for Jesus’ ministry