Sunday's Scriptures in Context
Martin Luther described the Bible as the cradle that holds Christ. We read the whole of Scripture and find meaning through Christ.
The Book of Joshua
The book of Joshua describes the entry of God's people Israel into the promised land of Canaan after their time of wandering in the wilderness. The events in Joshua take place in about the thirteenth century B.C.E., but the book was completed/finalized in about the seventh century B.C.E. Joshua is part of the Deuteronomistic History (Deuteronomy-2 Kings). Before Moses died, Joshua was chosen to lead the people into Canaan, under the direction of the Lord, their true leader. (Joshua means "the Lord saves.") The people are admonished to remember that the promised land was a gift to them from the Lord. Keeping it would depend on them being faithful to the Lord and living according to God's law. In the seventh century, when the book was finalized, the people had turned away from the Lord, placing their faith in earthly rulers and powers, and were conquered by the Babylonians. But the book of Joshua offered them hope. Even in the time of Jesus, the book of Joshua would have given hope and encouragement to the people under the Roman yoke. In part because of the violence of Joshua, Jesus (Greek form of Joshua) was expected to behave like an earthly warrior-ruler; but Jesus' way of salvation contrasts starkly with Joshua's violence. Again and again, Jesus shattered expectations. Jesus ushered in the Kingdom of God, open to all, of which he is temple, priest, king, and sacrifice.
The Book of Ephesians
Ephesians is a book full of praise to God, which celebrates the universal church and her mission. The author rejoices in our adoption as children of God through Jesus Christ: Grace through faith is the exquisite gift of God. We cannot boast of being saved because we choose or will it, nor through our own good works; but because we are saved, good works will be the result. As the Body of Christ, true believers will live in love and unity, practicing mercy and working for justice in the world.
The Gospel according to St. John
The gospel of John is attributed to the disciple John, or to one of his disciples, but we don't really know who wrote it. It was a common practice in ancient times to write in the name of a well known authority. Even to a first time reader, it's obvious that the Gospel of John, written about 90-110 C. E., is very different from the synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. John begins by describing Jesus as the Word of God made flesh. Although he includes many of the same events of Jesus' ministry as the other Gospel writers, they're in a different order and the focus is on Jesus' Godly identity, including his own description of himself as I AM. The Gospel of John is more interested in Jesus as God who has returned to his people, bringing his Kingdom to the world and connecting heaven to earth. God chose to become incarnate in the human race. He came to save his people from their sins, and his coronation as their King took place on the cross. He has swallowed up death (depicted in the ancient world as a monster who swallowed his prey) and his Spirit is alive in the world through his people.