Moses by John August Swanson. Image from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, Tenn. Original source © 1983 by John August Swanson.
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Matthew 27:27-61 Commentary
by Stanley Saunders
Throughout this Gospel, Matthew keeps a close eye on the conflicting expressions of power that distinguish human rulers -- whether Herod, Pilate, or the Judean priests and rulers in Jerusalem -- from Jesus and the power of God.
Matthew’s concern is not merely to indicate which power is greater, but more to describe the defining qualities and outcomes of each. The power that human authorities wield, even if in the name of God, persistently brings division, violence, and death. Jesus’ authority, on the other hand, yields healing, restoration, liberation, and life. The scenes of Jesus’ torture and crucifixion show us the defining expressions of these alternative forms of power.
Matthew’s interest in the nature of power has deep roots in the stories of Israel’s enslavement and exile, as well as the founding and development of the monarchy under Saul, David, Solomon, and the rest of the kings, including the truth-to-power proclamations of the prophets. The earliest canonical interest in power, however, occurs already in the creation stories of Genesis, preeminently when God grants “dominion” to humankind (Genesis 1:26-28). We should read the grant of dominion not as permission ...
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Summer Readings (2019)
2019-20 Worship resources
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NL Podcast 359: Words of Institution/Crucifixion
April 19, 2019
Podcast on Matthew 26:17-30 and Matthew 27:27-61, the Narrative Lectionary readings for April 18 and 19, 2019 (Words of Institution and Crucifixion) featuring Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker. Recorded at Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn., for Working Preacher.