Their Eyes Were Opened – Introduction

THE EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF WEST TEXAS

Their Eyes Were Opened

A Biblical Study for the Easter Season 2016
Based on the Gospel of Luke

Scroll down for links to weekly sessions.

Introduction to the Study

WELCOME to the diocesan Easter study! This series of seven lessons for the weeks after Easter focuses on the dramatic and moving resurrection accounts in the Gospel of Luke.

The lessons are suitable for use as either a weekday study or a Sunday class, by groups or individuals. When we read these stories, we might imagine ourselves being transported in time to the first century. We join the disciples as they attempt to make sense of the death of their beloved Lord, and as they get the first glimpses of how they will continue to meet, recognize, and be taught by the risen Christ.

The Gospel of Luke was composed from many different sources, both oral and written, over a period of about 50 years. It achieved the form we know by around 85 CE, about fifteen years after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. The community had probably left Jerusalem for the Syrian city of Antioch some time in the years leading up to the Jewish War (66-70 CE). See Luke 1:1-4 for the author’s own description of the process and purpose for writing this particular Gospel. The Acts of the Apostles (located in your Bible following the Gospel of John) is the second volume of what Luke saw as a two-volume work about Jesus and the early church.

During the decades that the Gospel of Luke was coming together, the Christian community was continuing to encounter the risen and living Christ when they gathered for the Lord’s Supper. At this early Eucharistic feast they also continued the synagogue practices of the reading of the scriptures, holy conversation, and prayer. The resurrection accounts of Luke are most often concerned with the question, “How do we know that it is the Lord who is among us? How can we recognize him?”

He is consistently recognized by the way in which the community senses his presence when they break bread together, as they come to new insights about the scriptures together, and as they experience an inward movement from sadness and confusion to joy, peace, and confidence. They are emphatic in their proclamation that this is not a ghost they are experiencing: it is their risen Lord Christ. He is embodied in a way that is different, but still recognizable, unmistakably himself.

Each of the Gospels presents a unique portrait of Jesus, and it is only by putting them all together that we get a fully three-dimensional view of him. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus is presented as God’s definitive prophet, who has come to offer salvation to the whole world, Jews and Gentiles alike. The word salvation is related to our word “salve,” a healing balm, and “salvage,” a rescue from destruction. Jesus has come to rescue first the people of Israel, and ultimately the whole world, by drawing us into God’s practices of mercy and justice, repentance and forgiveness. Jesus the Son and prophet of God releases us from bondage to unjust powers and systems so that we may be free to live into God’s generous will for us and for the whole creation.

Each of the lessons in this study has three parts:

1. An interview with someone in our diocese who answers a question related to the scriptural reading. The question asks the person to relate the scriptures to an event in daily life, modeling a fruitful way to engage the biblical study. The interviews are offered in two different media: an audio file and a transcript. If you are using this study for a group in your congregation, you will need to choose the option that best fits your needs and technical resources.

2. A portion of the text of Luke, together with a brief commentary. The point of the commentary is not to give an exhaustive interpretation of the passage, but simply to lift up a few ideas that might resonate with the class. The real substance of the study is the way in which the participants discuss the scriptures together. It is in this experience of holy conversation that the participants may have exactly the same experience of the risen Christ’s presence that the stories in Luke are trying to convey: joy, wonder, mystery, challenge, recognition, a heart strangely filled with warmth.

3. A few questions for continued reflection and conversation. These questions are intended to draw together the interview, the study of the scriptures, and the experiences of the gathered participants. The most important part of this study is not what is on paper, but what happens among the participants as they gather to read the scriptures together.

Note to users:

In the Episcopal Church’s three-year cycle of Sunday Gospel readings, we are concentrating on the Gospel of Luke for most of this year (Lectionary Year C), though the Gospel readings for Easter season itself are from the Gospel of John. This study is thus not intended to relate to the Sunday Gospels, but to connect with the readings from Luke that will shape the rest of the liturgical year through the summer and fall.

May your eyes be opened to recognize the risen Christ among you.

Links to the weekly lessons.

The Second Week of the  Easter Season, beginning April 3, 2016. (Luke 24: 1-12)

The Third Week of the Easter Season, beginning April 10, 2016. (Luke 24:13-27)

The Fourth Week of the Easter Season, beginning April 17, 2016. (Luke 24:28-32)

The Fifth Week of the Easter Season, beginning April 24, 2016. (Luke 24:33-43)

The Sixth Week of the Easter Season, beginning May 1, 2016. (Luke 24:44-53)

The Seventh Week of the Easter Season, beginning May 8, 2016. (Acts 1:1-11)

The Week of Pentecost, May 15, 2016. (Acts 2:1-12)

 

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