Sunday, October 3, 2010

Trinity 18: A Devotional Commentary

Deuteronomy 10:12-21 Now, Israel, what does Yahweh your God require of you, but to fear Yahweh your God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul, to keep the commandments of Yahweh, and his statutes, which I command you this day for your good? Behold, to Yahweh your God belongs heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth, with all that is therein. Only Yahweh had a delight in your fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all peoples, as at this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked. For Yahweh your God, he is God of gods, and Lord of lords, the great God, the mighty, and the awesome, who doesn’t respect persons, nor takes reward. He does execute justice for the fatherless and widow, and loves the foreigner, in giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the foreigner; for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt. You shall fear Yahweh your God; you shall serve him; and you shall cling to him, and you shall swear by his name. He is your praise, and he is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things, which your eyes have seen.

1 Corinthians 4:1-9 So let a man think of us as Christ’s servants, and stewards of God’s mysteries. Here, moreover, it is required of stewards, that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you, or by man’s judgment. Yes, I don’t judge my own self. For I know nothing against myself. Yet I am not justified by this, but he who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each man will get his praise from God. Now these things, brothers, I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us you might learn not to think beyond the things which are written, that none of you be puffed up against one another. For who makes you different? And what do you have that you didn’t receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? You are already filled. You have already become rich. You have come to reign without us. Yes, and I wish that you did reign, that we also might reign with you. For, I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last of all, like men sentenced to death. For we are made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and men.

Matthew 22:34-46 But the Pharisees, when they heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, testing him. “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. A second likewise is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, “What do you think of the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “Of David.” He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call him Lord, saying, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, sit on my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet?’ If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” No one was able to answer him a word, neither did any man dare ask him any more questions from that day forth.

The Pharisees in this passage were not interested in learning from Jesus. They were trying to trip Him up. They wanted to receive a response from Jesus that they could deconstruct and so they send out a lawyer. But Jesus answers in a way that makes deconstruction impossible. He summarizes the law in a simple and straightforward way. We are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself. Who can argue with that? Then Jesus asks them a question. How David can call the Christ Lord if the Christ is his son? They had no answer and stopped asking questions. He was making them look bad.

The Pharisees regarded the law as doable and spent their time trying to interpret it so that they could do it right. They had some belief about the Messiah as someone who would come and overthrow the Romans but the law was always foremost in their minds. Perhaps even through the keeping of this law they could get the Messiah to show up.

Jesus answer was designed to show them that none of them were actually keeping the law. Even Christians today who ought to know better spend a lot of time talking about how they have given their lives to Jesus or their heart or are on fire for God. They get a list of characteristics in their head that make them "real" Christians and that distinguish them from the "nominal" Christians. We all fall into this trap and think that so-and-so can't possibly be a Christian because he has a problem with a sin that we don't have a problem with or don't think we have a problem with. But the law requires absolute obedience, not just a fleeting feeling of being "filled with the Holy
Spirit." Do you love God with all your heart, soul, and mind? Have you been thinking about how much you love God 24 hours a day? Jesus does not say it is enough to try real hard or to be really "sincere." He says you have to actually do it. Do you love your neighbor as yourself? Do you take half of your income and give it to your neighbor and buy all those things for your neighbor that you want to have? Have you given all your money to the poor? When the real law is laid out before us it becomes clear that we have not kept it--we haven't even come close.

Jesus redirects them from the law and to the Christ. Why does David call him Lord? David calls him Lord because the Christ is not someone who is coming to just set up some earthly kingdom and lay down the law. David calls the Christ Lord, because the Christ is God Himself. God Himself came to earth to fulfill His own law and to take the sins of sinful Pharisees like you and me upon Himself. He did not come to give the "godly" a pat on the back and drive out the heathen. He came to hit "godly" people like us hard with the hammer of the law, expose us for the sinners that we are and save us. He did not come to save us from the heathen world but from our own heathenness.

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