Proper 4 (9) (May 29, 2016)
- First reading and Psalm
- Second reading
This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.
All the brothers and sisters here join me in sending this letter to the churches of Galatia.
May God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.
I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.
Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.
Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.
Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.
We have now reached the long season of Ordinary Time. It’s not what you think. Click hear for a post on It’s Not Really Ordinary – the short version is that Ordinary Time means Counted Time. We are not in any particular season, so we count the Sundays by the Sunday’s after Pentecost.
For the next several weeks, we are going to be looking at Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia. We best know it as Galatians. This week we look at the introduction to the letter. You may notice that when I put in the scripture, I strip it of the headings and the verse and chapter markings. Bible Gateway makes it easy to that. “Why?” you may ask. Because remember that these were letters written by Peter, Paul, or James to a specific church (Rome, Corinth, Philipi) or person (in the case of Timothy) or a group of people (Hebrews, James.) The point is they were letters and did not have chapter and verse markings. Also remember that the headings were and are added by the editors.
With that in mind, let’s look at Paul’s introduction. Paul jumps in and tells us by what authority he is writing this letter – no bishops or ecclesiastical authority has authorized this letter. Paul is reminding his audience that Jesus himself and God the Father selected Paul to preach the Gospel or the Good News. It appears that this was important for the selected audience to know – Paul is an apostle – not by his own choosing or by someone else’s choosing but by God himself. God chose Paul to preach the Gospel – to preach the Good News – and to take that Good News to not only the Jews (of which Paul was one) but also to the Gentles. God had good reason because Paul was a Roman citizen – it meant that he had access to much of the Roman empire. Jesus reminded Paul that he would also suffer for preaching the good news.
This is what drove Paul and he was writing to the church in Galatia because of a controversy there. We will get into that in the coming weeks. Suffice it to say that Paul really needed to write this letter for the sake of the church. Some were forgetting the true gospel and were getting caught up in another gospel – one that wasn’t from Jesus.
Paul reminds us that “Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live.” This in itself is a short statement on what the true gospel is. Apparently some in Galatia were teaching something else. Paul wants the church to know that we should only preach the Good News – nothing else. The Good News is that Jesus gave up his life for our sins to rescue us! Don’t accept anything else as the Good News.
Paul makes it plain that this letter is not so that he can win approval from the church – no. That is a good reminder for us that preach the good news – we don’t do it so we can win approval from the church – we don’t do it to please people – no – we preach the gospel because God has called us – and sometimes — people will get angry when we preach the truth rather than what they want to hear. Paul says those who do not preach the good news or preach another gospel should be cursed.
Sometimes there are those who say we preach nonsense – that it doesn’t make sense in our human minds. Paul reminds us that the Good News is not based on human reasoning. After all it doesn’t make much sense that God himself would come as one of us – die for us in our place – taking our sins as his own – so that we could be restored to the original plan that God had for us. And yet – that is exactly what happened when Jesus came to die for us. The creator died at the hands of his creation and paid the price for his creations sins. That my friends is a great love. And that is the heart of the gospel and the Good News.
It’s what Peter preached at Pentecost and afterwards. It’s what Stephen preached before he was stoned to death and ultimately it is what Paul preached and ultimately was the cause of his death. All of the original apostles – save John – died for the gospel that they preached. The preached it because they believed it – because they received it directly from God himself.
Today we have God’s Word – in a book form – the Bible. Those revelations have been revealed to us and now we must take the Word that we received and preach the gospel to a world that needs it. It might be costly. It might cost us our very life – again that doesn’t make sense to give up our life for the gospel – but the gospel is not based on human reasoning.
So tell others about the Good News – the real Good News!