Lectionary Commentaries for November 4, 2018
Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost

from WorkingPreacher.org


Commentary on Mark 12:28-34 

Sarah Hinlicky Wilson

There is no limit to the amount of work to be done in the church in correcting anti-Old Testament bias.

The habits of disdain toward Judaism and the faith of Israel run very deep, almost as old as the church itself, and will not be corrected easily. But preachers can and should take every opportunity to inculcate a better take on the Hebrew Scriptures within the Christian canon.

Today’s Gospel reading is especially useful toward that end. How many of us have heard the old canard, “the Old Testament god is a god of wrath but the New Testament God is a God of love”? (For that matter, how many of us have inadvertently preached it by exalting Jesus’ “inclusive” ministry over against the allegedly “exclusive” religion of Israel?) Jesus’ exchange with the scribe, however, upends all this pernicious nonsense. Their conversation takes place within the conversation that is the Old Testament — not outside of it or at its expense.

Furthermore, it is a conversation within the Pentateuch. Christians tend to prefer the prophets, with their ringing critiques of “formal” or “external” worship practices, which seem to justify post-Jesus desertion of Israel’s particular form of devotion and also to promote a “religion of the heart” that seems much more progressive and humane than animal sacrifice.

We gravitate toward passages like Isaiah 1:11, “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats” and Amos 5:21-22, “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them.” The whole of Israel’s early tradition, complete with tabernacle and all kinds of offerings and purity laws, seems to be dismissed easily by Micah 6:8, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Obviously, we infer, Jesus agrees.

To be sure, Jesus gets his best moves from Isaiah. But that doesn’t imply abandonment of the tradition embedded in the Pentateuch. When the scribe — an expert in the written texts of Israel’s faith — tries to sort out the “most important” commandment from all the others, Jesus doesn’t turn to the prophets for an answer. The answer about the commandments lies right in the midst of all the detailed statutes concerning Israel’s common life.

Jesus first invokes the Shema, “Hear, O Israel,” from Deuteronomy 6:4–5. It is structured like the First Commandment (Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5): first, an assertion of who God is and to whom God is (that is to Israel); then, a command issued on the basis of that identity, to love God with all one’s being — God and no other. It’s no accident this episode in Mark follows so closely on Jesus’ invocation of God’s speech from the burning bush to Moses in Exodus 3 (Mark 12:26).

And then, issuing out of this primary identity of God as Israel’s God and the command to love this God alone, Jesus appends the corresponding neighbor-ethic from Leviticus 19:18, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus’ teaching about human community is really nothing other than an extended commentary on this verse — as, indeed, is the book of Leviticus itself. It’s fine to say you love your neighbor as yourself, but what does that look like in practice? Both Jesus and Leviticus answer that question at some length.

Differences between Jesus and Leviticus on, for example, the cleanness/uncleanness of foods in Mark 7 may distract Gentile-thinking Christians from their more fundamental agreement — hence the need for extra caution here. The discussion with the scribe in Mark 12 is an extension of the dispute with the Pharisees in Mark 7 over “the commandment of God” verses “the tradition of men.” There too Jesus invoked Pentateuchal commands as his ethical baseline, specifically Exodus on the care of parents. And what Jesus teaches in both Mark 7 and Mark 12 is linked, again, to God speaking from the burning bush: He who is the God of the living, not the dead.

Leviticus is the book of life for the living, whose rules shield human beings from deterioration and death. Likewise, Deuteronomy: “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). There is certainly a critique of a certain strain of Israel’s thinking in this encounter — as we today are accustomed to critiquing aspects of Christian thought we find faulty! But it is by no means a blanket condemnation of Israel’s faith or a fresh start with a “god of love.” The continuity greatly outweighs the discontinuity.

The scribe gets it — remarkably enough. As Israel, he hears that God is one, he hears Jesus’ invocation of these central, critical, indispensable confessions of Israel’s faith. And hearing, he affirms and agrees. So much so that Jesus need offer no correction. Only: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

Not far — but not yet there. What remains? For all intents and purposes, at this point in the Gospel, all that remains is Jesus’ passion. Not an overthrowing of Israel’s faith, but an unanticipated fulfillment of it. Love of God and love of neighbor take their deepest expression in shed blood, the blood that is life itself. Leviticus could have told you that.

First Reading

Commentary on Deuteronomy 6:1-9

Juliana Claassens

The lectionary reading for this week is the Shema, the core confession of faith in the Jewish tradition: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone” (or alternatively one could say “the Lord is one”).

The Shema continues with the imperative “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” In good days, in dark days; where people are congregated, where people are alone, these words are always to be with the believer. In verses 6-9 the believer is furthermore implored to “keep these words … in your heart;” to “recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise;” to “bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” One indeed can say that the Shema is the heart of the Jewish, and also our religion, which ought to be standing front and center in one’s everyday life.

However, when one reads this classic text there are a number of things this text could say, but probably should not. First, the Shema occurs in a context in which the Israelites are standing at the border of the Promised Land that, as verse 1 notes, they “are about to cross into and occupy.” Now in a context of colonization and people invading and occupying other people’s lands, this text can indeed be said to show the link between religion and politics in which God is used to dominate and subjugate the many other nations with which Israel shared the land. In this regard, it is so important to read the Shema as Thomas Mann does in his commentary on Deuteronomy 6 (Westminster Bible Companion, pp. 51-53), in which he invokes the tradition of the liberator God who had freed Israel from the house of bondage in discerning the significance of the Shema. Mann writes that according to Deuteronomy 6:20, “when your children ask you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the decrees and the statutes and the ordinances that the Lord our God has commanded you?,’” the answer should center around the memory of when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, and how God had delivered them with a mighty hand (verses 21-22). It is this memory of being liberated and freed from slavery that is to be central to Israel’s understanding of the One God they serve, and that is to determine their identity of living as the people of God. This memory of being slaves thus ought to prevent one from enslaving others.

Second, the Shema is not saying that God is the only God and there is none other. In the biblical traditions, there was a keen sense of other gods like Asherah, Baal, Moloch and Astarte. Much of the Deuteronomistic tradition is concerned with the fact that in a context of many gods, one will according to the covenant relationship pledge allegiance to the God of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob, Rachel, Leah, Bilhah and Zilpah alone.

Third, the Shema occurs in a context in which the observance of these decrees and commandments that God is commanding the people is intrinsically linked with what in contemporary circles may be described as prosperity gospel: If you keep the commandments, it will go well with you, and you will flourish and become many in the Promised Land that is described as “a land flowing with milk and honey” (verses 2-3). We, as also many other voices in the biblical traditions, know that this is not always the case. Despite one’s best efforts to keep the commandments and love God with all of your heart, your being and your might, things still may go terribly wrong, both personally and collectively. In this regard, it is interesting to see how the Shema functions in theological reflection after the Holocaust in terms of the question of how one can continue to pray the Shema in some of the darkest days seen by humanity. A powerful example comes from a poem by Primo Levi that is based on the Shema:

You who live secure
In your warm houses,
Who return at evening to find
Hot food and friendly faces:

            Consider whether this is a man,
            Who labours in the mud
            Who knows no peace
            Who fights for a crust of bread
            Who dies at a yes or a no.
            Consider whether this is a woman,
            Without hair or name
            With no more strength to remember
            Eyes empty and womb cold
            As a frog in winter.

Consider that this has been:
I commend these words to you.
Engrave them on your hearts
When you are in your house, when you walk on your way,
When you go to bed, when you rise.
Repeat them to your children.
Or may your house crumble,
Disease render you powerless,
Your offspring avert their faces from you. 1

What is interesting about this poem is that it calls on people during, and also after, the Holocaust to remember what had happened, and to recognize the incredible suffering done to men, women, and children. This poem powerfully expresses the intrinsic link between the Shema that is centered on loving God with all of one’s being that is considered to be the heart of the Jewish religion, and loving one’s neighbor. Conversely, it raises the question: How can you say you love the Lord your God who is One while your brother and sister are experiencing the most horrific treatment cited by witnesses like also Primo Levi? True devotion to the One God thus implies that we stand where God stands and challenge all dignity-denying behavior to all people, in all places, at all times.


  1. Shema. Poem by Primo Levi, translated by Ruth Feldman & Brian Swann; published on Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust’s website at http://www.lamoth.org/visitor-information/guide-to-the-museum/museum-panels/room-7/liberation-poetry–verse/shema-poem-by-primo-levi/

Alternate First Reading

Commentary on Ruth 1:1-18

Cameron B.R. Howard

The book of Ruth is a gritty story about poverty, loss, risk, and survival.

To be sure, it contains many uplifting themes, such as loyalty and companionship, as well as an overall movement from emptiness and death to fullness and life. Nevertheless, its feel-good ending is preceded by an edginess that can be tempting for readers and preachers alike to gloss over. The first chapter in particular, which is appointed in its entirety for this week’s Old Testament reading, emphasizes the precariousness of Ruth and Naomi’s situation. To proclaim the remarkable hope in this story, a preacher must first reckon with the significant despair that frames the narrative.

The back-to-back readings from Ruth this Sunday and next provide an opportunity for preachers to dwell in this story a little longer than usual, essentially presenting a mini-series on Ruth that can take into account some of the narrative’s finer details. In this week’s commentary on Ruth 1:1-18, I highlight the intersecting hardships that face Ruth and Naomi as they travel to Judah together. In next week’s commentary on Ruth 3:1-5 and 4:13-17, I will focus on the happy resolution of the story and reflect on its theological implications.

Migration and poverty

A central theme in the book of Ruth is the family’s migration: their movement from Judah to Moab, then back again.1 The journey is driven by hunger. Ironically, they must leave Bethlehem, which in Hebrew means “house of bread,” to find sustenance in Moab, a land whose people are reviled elsewhere in the Old Testament (see Genesis 19:30-38 and Deuteronomy 23:3-6).

The Bible contains many stories of famine prompting families to seek food in other lands, a choice that is fraught with danger. Abram and Sarai, for example, leave Canaan to sojourn in Egypt, where Sarai is abducted into Pharaoh’s house (Genesis 12:1-20). Like other families who, even today, leave desperate situations in their homelands for the promise of a new place, Elimelech and Naomi must have thought the specter of starvation at home outweighed the significant perils of the journey. Likewise, Naomi, having lost her husband and her sons, decides that her prospects for both food and belonging back home in Judah are enough to risk making the trip again.


Ruth is a story centered on the lives and experiences of women, something that is relatively difficult to come by in the Old Testament, (many of my beginning Hebrew students notice this when reading Ruth for the first time, as it is full of otherwise rare feminine verb forms and pronominal suffixes!). That emphasis draws attention to the particular kinds of difficulties faced in the story by women, and especially by widows.

When Naomi entreats Orpah and Ruth to return their “mother’s house” — another unusually female-centric term, given that the Bible usually prefers “father’s house” — she focuses on the importance of their finding husbands, so that they may have security (Ruth 1:8-13). The word menuchah (verse 9), translated in the NRSV as “security,” has the sense of a “settled rest” or being “at home;” for these single women in the ancient Near East, their best hope for long-term safety and prosperity is to find new husbands as soon as possible.

Readers can also glimpse the everyday dangers faced by women in the barley fields when Ruth goes to glean behind Boaz’s reapers. Boaz tells Ruth, “I have ordered the young men not to bother (Hebrew nag‘ek, “touch”) you” (Ruth 2:9). The implication of his remark is that the other workers may have harassed or otherwise harmed the woman without Boaz’s warning. Alone, in need of food, and without a family or other formal support system in Judah, Ruth faces real physical danger.


Ruth’s Moabite ethnicity also puts her at risk. She is surprised when Boaz offers her special treatment in the field, saying to him, “Why have I found favor in your sight, that you should take notice of me, when I am a foreigner?” (Ruth 2:10) There are many places in the Hebrew Bible that show suspicion or even hostility toward “foreign women.”

The danger of foreign women is a recurring theme in the Deuteronomistic History (Joshua-2 Kings), because they are thought to sway their husbands toward foreign gods (for an example of this polemic with regard to Solomon, see 1 Kings 11:1-13). In Ezra-Nehemiah, men are made to expel their foreign wives from the post-exilic returnee community (Ezra 10). Ruth’s own foreignness looms particularly large in her story; in fact, the text takes great pains to emphasize Ruth’s ethnicity for the ancient Israelite audience, repeatedly referring to her as “Ruth the Moabite” (see Ruth 1:22; 2:2, 21; 4:5, 10), rather than simply “Ruth.”

Of course, Naomi herself has also sojourned as a “stranger in a strange land” (see Exodus 2:22 KJV), though the text provides us with no details on how Naomi was received as a Judahite woman in Moab. Ruth’s impassioned speech in verses 16-17 is often heard as a declaration of loyalty and compassion, a selfless willingness to accompany her aging mother-in-law. At the same time, it is possible that, from Naomi’s point of view, Ruth’s companionship would be more of a burden than a benefit.

After all, Ruth is a foreign woman from a reviled nation, and Naomi, widowed and vulnerable, is trying to re-enter Judahite life after having made a life among the Moabites. Would the people of Bethlehem welcome her back with Ruth in tow? Ruth’s response to Naomi certainly sounds like, “I’m completely devoted to you,” but it may also carry an undertone of, “You can’t get rid of me that easily!”

Theology in Ruth 1

Ruth 1 mentions God several times, but God does not appear as a character in the book of Ruth in the same way God appears in some other biblical stories. That is, God does not speak directly with any of the characters, nor are God’s actions foregrounded with any detail. References to God and God’s actions are presented from the point-of-view of the characters, rather than the narrator. For example, Naomi hears that the LORD has given food to God’s people in Judah (1:6), and she later attributes the bitterness of her life to the hand of the LORD (1:13, 20, 21).

The one time the narrator directly attributes an action to God is when Ruth becomes pregnant at the end of the book (4:13). Both Naomi and Ruth use the name of God in vow formulas (such as, “May the LORD do thus and so to me…,” 1:17), but readers ought not to jump to conclusions about the characters’ piety from those invocations alone, just as Scarlett O’Hara’s vow that “as God is my witness, I will never go hungry again” does not necessarily indicate her abiding faithfulness. Instead, the God-language of Ruth paints a religious and cultural backdrop for the narrative, inviting readers to focus on the story’s human interactions and to draw their own conclusions about the presence of God within it.


  1. See T. Linafelt, Ruth (Berit Olam; Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1999), for a detailed look at how both literal movement and metaphorical movement (i.e., transformation) are structural and thematic features of the Ruth narrative.


Commentary on Psalm 119:1-8

Mark Throntveit

Psalm 119, the first eight verses of which is the appointed psalm for this Sunday, is the big dog of the psalter.1

But the gargantuan size of this massive prayer frequently casts a spell upon its would be interpreters that results in a flood of trivia:

  • Longest chapter of the Bible by verse count (176 verses)
  • Longest psalm (over 100 verses longer than Psalm 78)
  • Longest acrostic (series of lines/verses whose initial letters form a word, phrase, or — as here — the alphabet)

This last point is usually expanded to further describe Psalm 119 as comprising twenty-two eight-verse stanzas (one stanza for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet), in which each of the eight verses in a stanza begins with the same letter. The comprehensive nature of this aspect of the acrostic matrix is said to give readers a feeling of totality and completion, especially as realized in the colossal proportions of Psalm 119. This sense of totality is augmented by the recognition that all but four of the 176 lines of the poem contain at least one of eight regularly recurring synonyms for God’s law/teaching/instruction: “law” (torah); “promise” (imrah); “word” (dabar); “statutes” (huqqim); “ordinances” (mishpatim); “commandments” (mitsvot); “decrees” (edot); and “precepts” (piqqudim).

One wonders why the number 8 enjoys such prominence. The sages responsible for the wisdom literature were much enamored of numerology, but recent scholarship has questioned the previous assumption that the sages were ultimately responsible for this consummate “torah” psalm since the understanding of Torah in the psalm differs from that of the wisdom traditions and is much closer to that of Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomistic History. In Chinese thought, the number eight represents the totality of the universe. In mathematics, 8 is the first cubed number (2x2x2). Biblically speaking, the command to circumcise Jewish males on the eighth day of life, or recognizing the eighth day as the beginning of a new week or cycle after the Sabbath or rest on the seventh or final day of the previous week or cycle, seems more plausible.

So far, so good. One of the rants, to which my unfortunate students are frequently subjected, has to do with the dissing of the acrostic passages of the Old Testament in general and Psalm 119 in particular that seems to go hand in glove with the above comments. This disparagement is far too common in the commentaries and studies that deride the acrostics as rather simplistic, artificial, tedious, unimaginative, or merely derivative exercises whose main purpose was didactic, to teach students a reverence for Torah as they struggled to learn the alphabet. Such shortsighted approaches miss the inner riches that these psalms offer to those that take the time to read past the scaffolding provided by their acrostic architecture. This is especially true in our text, the “aleph” segment of Psalm 119, as I hope a close reading of the Hebrew, with particular attention paid to matters of structure and repetition will demonstrate.

In terms of repetition, the first thing one notices in the Hebrew text is the inclusio around verses 1-3 formed by the repetition of “walk” (haholakim verse 1; halaku verse 3) and “way” (derek verse 1; bederakayv v.3); and the inclusio framing verses 4-8 formed by the repetition of “keep” [NRSV: “observe”] (lishmor verse 4; eshmor verse 8) and “a whole bunch” [NRSV: “diligently” and “utterly”] (meod verse 4; ad meod verse 8). The division into two sections, verses 1-3 and 4-8, provided by the inclusios, is confirmed in verses 1-3, where Yahweh is referred to in the third person (“the lord,” “his,” “him”) and in verses 4-8 where Yahweh is addressed in the second person (“you,” “your”). Taking the psalmist’s announcement regarding Yahweh’s command to diligently keep the precepts of the Lord in verse four and his prayer that he remain faithful in verse 5 as a pivot yields a paneled structure of three general observations about those in relationship with Yahweh (verses 1-3) balanced by three personal statements of the psalmist’s faithfulness (verses 6-8a) and a “kicker” (verse 8b), to which we shall return. An ABCB’C’A’ pattern of repeated key words in verses 2-7 further binds the unit together and emphasizes the response to God’s commandments:

A “heart” (lev, verse 2)
   B “in his ways” (bidrakayv, verse 3)
      C “you have commanded” (tsivitah, verse 4)
   B’ “my ways” (dirakay, verse 5)
      C’ “your commandments” (mitsvoteka, verse 6)
A’ “heart” (levav, verse 7)

Simplistic, artificial, tedious, unimaginative, or merely derivative? On the contrary, one can discern a rather intricate arrangement, carefully worked out apart from the strictures imposed by the acrostic form, that presents a discernible message entirely appropriate for the first stanza of a monumental tribute to God’s instruction. After observing that those who walk in God’s ways are blessed/fortunate/happy, indeed (verses 1-3) the psalmist acknowledges, in a personal address to God, that this is so because God has commanded it (verse 4). Then, following a fervent prayer that he might be counted among those fortunate ones (verse 5), the psalmist promises to be that faithful person (verses 6-8a).

And yet, lest we think that such devotion to the law is easily acquired, or even possible through our conscious decision to be obedient, the psalmist concludes with a marvelously poignant prayer that lays bare the truth of the matter: “do not utterly abandon me!” (verse 8b). Like the father of the boy with an unclean spirit in Mark’s gospel who prayed “I believe … help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) true faith comes with the recognition that we are completely dependent upon God’s grace.


1 Commentary first published on this site on Nov. 1, 2015.

Second Reading

Commentary on Hebrews 9:11-14

Jennifer T. Kaalund

The text of Hebrews is replete with comparisons.

In these four verses we find two examples: a greater and more perfect tabernacle and “how much more” comparing the blood of Christ to the blood of goats and calves. Throughout the sermon the earthly is compared to the heavenly; the past to the present; the good to the better. The author clearly wants to emphasize the significance of Jesus and how his entry into the earthly realm has changed everything, for the better. And yet comparisons are often problematic, sometimes even dangerous. Therefore, this sermon is a cautionary tale; one that should be embraced for all of its challenges and complexities and also for all of the encouragement and hope that it provides.

Going from good to better to best

Comparisons can be dangerous when they are employed as a method of supersession. That is, comparisons should not result in replacing one thing with the other or dismissing the previous and former things as no longer useful. Comparison is about relationships and more often than not are simply a matter of opinion. When a comparison is made we often do not take the time to assess the real meaning of the relationship and instead are left with the idea that one thing should take the position of another.

For example, to declare that Coke is better than Pepsi is a matter of opinion. One is only better to those who drink soda or pop and specifically to those who simply prefer more or less sugar or more or less carbonation (the basis upon which the argument often lies). The reality is that in their most basic form, Coke and Pepsi are of the same substance. What is really conveyed by the comparison is one’s personal preference or one’s personal experiences. Perhaps the more important aspect of comparisons is not what or who is more, better, higher, but to better understand the relationship between the two items being compared. By focusing on the relationship, we can remove any judgment. I think this is important for a deeper understanding of the text of Hebrews.

In a society where we are told to strive for the best, the underlying message can often be that good is not good enough. The reality is that good is just that…good. Going from good to great does not mean that good is no longer good. Like your attempt to describe the best desert you have ever had, the writer of Hebrews in this sermon is attempting to convey that the salvific work of Jesus was/is the best thing that has happened in human history. The writer wants the audience to understand that Jesus’ intervention on the earth creates the possibility of transforming our very lives. This does not mean that we should despise or so easily dismiss those things which came before, the previous forms of sacrifice. These things were all necessary for helping us to relate to who Jesus is and to the work he did on earth and continues to do in heaven.

Purification: appreciate the process

I recently heard a radio advertisement for water that made claims to improve health and wellness. My initial thought was: “Now, that is some impressive water!” However, upon further consideration I thought that clean water can have the same effects, no bells and whistles are necessary. However, a quick stroll through the grocery store aisle challenges this assertion. There are a multitude of varieties of water — infused with fruit, enhanced with vitamins and minerals, distilled, purified, spring, alkaline, ionized, and sparkling. The options seemed endless.

Commodification of a life necessity aside, the very fact that there are so many options inform us of two things: 1) there is a desire (demand) for water that is perceived as “pure” and 2) we drink water for various purposes. Whether it is to simply satiate our thirst or if we desire its other medicinal properties, we drink it for a purpose — sometimes to simply live and sometimes to live more abundantly. But have we considered the processes to create the various forms of water? How does my good and clean tap water compare to these others? Tap water does not magically appear from our faucets; there are water treatment plants that facilitate the process of bringing clean water into our homes. Likewise, there is a process for creating these other varieties of water. We appreciate the end result, but we rarely acknowledge the process for creating it.

One of the accomplishments that the writer of Hebrews highlights in these verses is that the blood of Jesus was offered to “purify our conscious from dead works.” The comparison in this text emphasizes the difference between what the blood of Jesus secures and what the blood of animals produced. Both of these images of sacrifice are horrific; they involve the death of living beings in order to improve the life of another. Sacrifice reminds us that a process of purification can be violent and difficult.

Whether its water or metal or our souls, purification involves the removal of the “bad stuff” (contaminants) in order to obtain a better “thing” — a clean conscious, potable water, or a pure metal. The author of Hebrews offers us an image of “a contrast between what humans can accomplish on their own and what can be accomplished only by God.” We can purify the body, but only God can purify the soul. Jesus has secured the purification of our conscience, and what an incredible gift that is!

A pure conscience provides us the ability to discern what is just and right. It enables us to live lives without guilt and shame. And just like those numerous options of water, this gift was given to us for purpose. It is intended that we use it. Christ obtained eternal redemption not simply for redemption sake. The ultimate sacrifice was not made so that our bodies or souls can simply be stamped clean or labeled pure. We have been redeemed in order to worship and serve the living God. Some days that work will be infused with joy and pleasure and some days we will simply be doing kingdom work. In either case, we have been gifted what we need in order to do God’s work. We have been purified for a purpose.


Luke Timothy Johnson, Hebrews: A Commentary (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2006), 236.