The Readings: Judges 7:19––8:12; Acts 3:12-26; John 1:29-42
(The Lectionary, oddly, omits vv.13-21; they are retained in the above link.)
Gideon (“Hacker”)/Jerubbaal (“Let Baal contend against him”) becomes a more ambiguous character as the story proceeds. The hacking moves from the Baal altar and sacred pole to the Midianites with their leaders Zebah and Zalmunna, to the officials and elders of Succoth and Penuel. Commentators argue about the latter: personal vengeance (Boling) or military justice (Alter); perhaps the ambiguity of the action is equally important. There’s no celebration of the God-given victory, simply a quick return to the local rivalries and jockeying for status.
As speeches aiming at repentance go, Peter’s is one of the gentlest: you’re in the inside lane, you acted “in ignorance,” repent so that “the times of refreshing may come.” At the other end of the spectrum, Stephen’s combative sermon, which, not surprisingly, lead to his stoning (Acts 7). Is Luke inviting us to wonder about how the Gospel is proclaimed?
John the Baptist does his work, pointing folk to Jesus (vv.35ff), and now it’s Simon who acquires a new name (‘Cephas’ in Aramaic, ‘Peter’ in Greek [recall ‘petrify’, ‘petroleum’, etc.]). Vv.29-34 are curious stylistically, with no indication of John’s audience. Probably the author is reporting of John’s testimony to us, the readers. Jesus: “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” “the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit,” “the Son of God:” The author is, as it were, writing checks; let us see how he cashes them, how he shows Jesus enacting these descriptions.