Category: workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: The Parable of the Dishonest Manager is notoriously difficult to interpret. But before we rush into the task of figuring out why Jesus praises a thief, we should remember that his parables frequently shake up our assumptions about right and wrong, and about rational and irrational behaviors. The dishonest manager deserves preachers’ attention for many reasons. One of these is the urgency that motivates him and causes him to set all other concerns aside. Preaching has a similar urgency that demands preachers act in ways that can appear subversive. The gospel we preach likewise can look irresponsible, dangerous, and contrary to our culture’s standards of respectability.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Luke 16:1-13. It was originally a guest contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: Jesus speaks of his commission to bring fire to the earth and division to human society. He criticizes his listeners for failing to be able to discern the true character of the present age. His words are sharp, his imagery frightening. At the heart of the passage, however, is Jesus’ expression of his own ardent desire to see justice flourish in the world. The time is now to commit oneself to that, for this season of repentance means that Jesus is urgently calling his hearers to align themselves with God’s priorities. Here, at the thresholds of our own looming mortality and the promised arrival of God’s kingdom in all its fullness, we have an opportunity to share in God’s commitment to remake the whole landscape of human well-being.

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: Jesus promises “the kingdom” to his followers. He urges them to sell possessions and give to those who need money. He tells a parable about slaves waiting diligently for their master to return and then being surprised to have their master serve them dinner when at last he arrives. Finally he likens the return of the Son of Man to the experience of having a thief break into one’s house. A variety of themes work their way through this passage. It has the capacity to reassure Jesus’ followers of their security while also making them wonder about that security. The passage is especially helpful for getting a sense of how wealth and generosity—very prominent themes in the Gospel of Luke—figure in securing “treasure in heaven.” Jesus expects his disciples to do more than give money away; he calls them to enter into solidarity with those who lack resources.

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: In the Parable of the Rich Fool, in which a wealthy man responds to his bumper crop by enriching himself and neglecting to help anyone else, Jesus reiterates the power of wealth to corrupt our religious and moral values. This parable is one of several passages in the Gospel according to Luke in which greed and wealth lead people into idolatry. By devoting themselves to accumulation, comfort, and their own security, greedy people end up isolated from others and from the places in which God is active among the poor and needy. Their worlds grow small. Preachers who will put this challenging parable before congregations need to prepare themselves accordingly by applying courage, nuance, and forethought to their sermon preparations. Opportunities to identify rampant idolatry in our culture are too important to be taken lightly.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Luke 12:13-21. It was originally a guest contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: When Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray, he does much more than describe they way we should pray or the things for which we should pray. He reveals his theology by describing a God who hears, provides, forgives, and protects. His prayer offers an invitation to experience intimacy with God. There is no special experience required to commune with God. The door is always open.

I wrote this article for those preparing to preach or hear sermons on Luke 11:1-13. It was originally a guest contribution to the “Dear Working Preacher” series. Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: The Gospel according to Luke presents preachers with challenges. While some passages announce earth-shattering change and societal upheaval taking place through the coming of Jesus Christ, the narrative’s rhetoric calls believers to participate in transformation that comes slowly, one relationship at time. Preaching this Gospel faithfully, especially in our era of anxiety, frustration, and polarization, requires us to pay attention to how salvation emerges over the course of Jesus’ ministry.

Read the full article at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary:Jesus calms a raging storm while he and his disciples are trying to cross the Sea of Galilee. The event offers a stunning display of his power, yet it also exposes the faithlessness of his followers. It is a prime example of the Gospel of Mark’s tendency to depict Jesus as one who creates new, life-giving possibilities in the midst of circumstances that are full of danger or at the far edges of what might be considered predictable or secure locations.

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: With two short parables about seeds that grow and flourish, Jesus describes the reign (kingdom) of God as something that will indeed blossom. It may take time for that to occur, and the outcome may not look magnificent according to conventional standards of power and greatness. The emergence of that new state of affairs is nevertheless definitely going to occur, possibly not what we were expecting, and certain to provide benefits.

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: Neither Jesus’ own kin nor the premier theological interpreters of his day could discern the truth about him and his authority to inaugurate the reign of God. Their confusion and skepticism cause them to fall back on labels—“demonic” and “insane”—that betray a lack of imagination and openness. Jesus responds by describing his work as overcoming humanity’s captivity to evil and as forging new familial relationships and identity. He thus declares his intention to bring about wholesale change.

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary

Summary: When Jesus’ actions and words concerning the sabbath upset a group of Pharisees, Mark’s Gospel begins to draw attention to why some of Jesus’ contemporaries found him so controversial. The two scenes in this passage illustrate the liberative character of God’s reign (kingdom) and show some religious leaders to be resistant to that liberation. Their resistance results in the narrative’s first indications of the opposition that will finally overwhelm Jesus.

I wrote this biblical commentary for those preparing to preach or teach on the passage. Read the commentary at Working Preacher.

Bible commentary: preachers & teachers workingpreacher.org commentary