The Lessons: Judges 17:1-13; Acts 7:44––8:1a; John 5:19-29
Re Judges, by now it’s clear that Israel doesn’t need exterior enemies to suffer damage. “People did what was right in their own eyes” is amply illustrated. If having a king would have made things better—we’ll see.
Re Acts, James Dunn’s The Partings of the Ways explores how two Second Temple groups, the Pharisees and Jesus’ followers, ended up as Judaism and Christianity. If the “pillars” of Second Temple faith are monotheism, election, covenant focused in Torah, and land focused in Temple, Stephen’s speech represents perhaps the earliest parting. Stephen describes the Temple as “made with human hands” (cheiropoiētos), a word typically used for idols (Lev 26:1, Isa 2:18, Dan 5:4, etc.)! If that’s what the Temple is…
Re John, the Feast of St. Mary (Aug 15) bumped the reading of the beginning of John 5. There Jesus, back in Jerusalem, heals the paralytic—on the Sabbath. The Jewish authorities challenge him; today’s reading picks up his response. Why does Jesus focus on the resurrection? Perhaps the answer has something to do with “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk” (v.8 KJV). The former paralytic and the authorities focus on “take up thy bed, and walk” (vv.11, 12). ‘Raise up/rise’ (egeirō) can also be used of resurrection (v.21; cf. Isa 28:19, Matt 14:2, etc.), and Jesus focuses on this part of the command. The healing is life-giving (v.21, health and death being on a continuum); the healing is a foretaste of what Jesus will be doing.