Sermon / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Season of Pentecost / Sunday October 29th 2017 - / Matthew 22:34-46 / Who is the Christ?
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday Oct 29th 2017: Season of Pentecost / Matthew 22:34-46 "Who is the Christ?"
But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question to test Him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to Him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet”’?
If then David calls Him Lord, how is He his son?” And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask Him any more questions.
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. In our Gospel reading today Matthew draws us into the events of Holy Week. Jesus is teaching with parables in the Temple in Jerusalem and as He teaches He is repeatedly interrupted and challenged. If you read just before our Gospel today in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus had just silenced the Sadducees, a group of philosophically liberal religious leaders who were infatuated with Greco-Roman culture and thought. The Sadducees who ran the Temple and were closely connected to the Roman government officials that governed Israel thought it was ridicules to believe in the Resurrection of the dead. Quoting from Scripture Jesus shut them down publicly proving them wrong in front of the people gathered there in the Temple by pointing out that the Old Testament says that God “is not God of the dead, but of the living.” Before that, even earlier in the week Jesus had shut down the Pharisees and the Herodians, supporters of King Herod, who wanted to trap Him in His words with a question about paying taxes to Cesar or to God. We heard about that in last Sunday’s Gospel Reading. Today we have the Pharisees taking another crack at Jesus, this time the Pharisee is a lawyer, an expert in Jewish law. He asks Jesus the question, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” Jesus doesn’t pick one like adultery or lying or stealing or murder no Jesus quotes the summery provided in Scripture in Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” Capping it off with a summation of the second table of the 10 Commandments saying, “And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Here Jesus switches gears, here He goes on the offensive and asks a provocative question. With the crowd in the Temple all listening in, the very crowd the Pharisees and Sadducees and Herodians and Scribes and Elders and Lawyers had all hoped to sway against Jesus, Jesus asks the Pharisees, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is He?” There is only one correct answer and Jesus knows it. And so do the Pharisees.
Let’s go back now to the beginning of this very week that we are looking at. On Sunday, fresh from raising Lazarus from the dead in the nearby town of Bethany, Jesus had ridden into town on the back of a Donkey to great fanfare. We celebrate that day as Palm Sunday because the crowds had come out to great Jesus waving palm branches and St. Matthew recounts how, “the crowds that went before [Jesus] and that followed Him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when [Jesus] entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” And what was the first thing Jesus did? On that Sunday He went straight to the Temple and cleared out the money changers who were, at a profit, exchanging roman coins for Jewish temple coins to faithful Jews who had come to celebrate the Passover. When the dust was settling from all the commotion, as the money changers and the sellers of pigeons limped away, “the blind and the lame came to [Jesus right there] in the temple, and He healed them. But” St. Matthew tells us that, “when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that [Jesus] did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant [they were incensed and offended], and they said to [Jesus], “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read,
“‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies
you have prepared praise’?”
And that my friends is how the week started out … and from there each day the Pharisees and Sadducees and Herodians and Scribes and Elders and Lawyers all plotted and attempted to embarrass or trap Jesus in front of the crowds, to get Him in a kind of gotcha moment. They were frustrated that Jesus had come in from the backwater region of Galilee and was now right in their back yard, sitting in their “seat of power” preaching and teaching in “their” temple courts … just who did this Jesus think that He was?
And now we come back to the question of the day: Jesus asks the Pharisees, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is He?” And again there is only one correct answer and Jesus knows it. The crowd knows it, and so do the Pharisees. And if at that moment in the crowd there had been any Herodians or Scribes or Elders any additional Lawyers, or Sadducees there they would all have know the answer too.
“What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is He?” The Pharisees who had come to question Jesus said to him, “The son of David.” … yes remember the beginning of the week, the crowds who greeted Jesus called out to Him shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” In the Temple the children had called out, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”
When the crowd said “the Son of David” they rightly applied to Jesus the name which amounts to calling Him the Christ, meaning "the anointed one." “The Son of David” is the Christ. It is the title for the promised Saviour and Redeemer who would bring salvation to the Jewish people and all of mankind, to you and me, to Rylee and Chet who are baptized today, yes even to those yet unborn. Jesus points out to them that this Saviour this Redeemer, this Son of David, was more than a descendant of their blessed king David because David himself said in Psalm 110:1 ““‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’ It’s a little like a riddle but in it the coming Son of David is greater and more pre-eminent than His famous ancestor David himself.
When Jesus follows up asking them, if then David calls “this Son of David” his Lord, how is this great Lord also David’s son? No one was able to answer Jesus a word, not the Pharisees, not anyone, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask Him any more questions. If they answered the question the way they knew they had to answer it, they would have confirmed publicly that Jesus was in fact the Christ. These men who sought to entrap Jesus in His words could not bring themselves to answer; even one more question could entangle them deeper into Jesus’ net. Therefore, the Pharisees and Sadducees and Herodians and Scribes and Elders and Lawyers who didn’t always get along, who weren’t the closest of friend didn’t dare to ask Jesus anymore questions in front of the crowds. You may recall this axiom, “Politics makes for strange bedfellows,” or perhaps this other axiom, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend?” After today’s Gospel reading these enemies of Jesus are unified, they are all in the same bed together; they set aside their differences for one reason: To make sure Jesus is dead and buried. To do it in such a way that they all if possible come out smelling like a bouquet rose, so that the people will follow them and forget about this quote unquote “prophet” Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee. The chief priests and the Pharisees were already seeking to arrest Jesus, now they would work together. They were looking for a way to arrest Jesus “by stealth and kill Him, but “Not during the Passover, [not during] the Feast of Unleavened Bread, lest there be an uproar from the people.”
It all boiled down to authority. They questioned Jesus’ authority to do and say the things He did and said and Jesus rightly was questioning their authority, they questioned Jesus’ authority from a worldly perspective, from traditions and little man made laws and from reason unhinged from Scripture while Jesus questioning their authority by quoting God’s Word to them, God’s Word which they were not following, not honouring.
This is why Jesus answers the question about which commandment is the greatest by saying, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment,” because their problem was a first commandment problem. They were not loving the Lord their God with all their heart and with all their soul and with all their mind. Their sin was that they had God right under their nose and they couldn’t see Him: Wouldn’t see Him. Jesus who was, and is and ever shall be the King of kings and Lord of lords, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, stood right before them and they sought to crown Him not with honour and blessing and glory but by Friday they would seek His life, they would see Him crowned with thistles and thorns. They would see Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted, bruised and beaten, bloodied and dead. For every blind man, for every paralytic, for the lame, the leprous, the possessed, the sick they would stand at the foot of Jesus’ cross on Good Friday and mockingly call out to the crowd gathered at the cross, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him. He trusts in God; let God deliver Him now, if He desires Him. For He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” From there these men would turn their backs on the dying Jesus and walk away back to their houses to continue to celebrate the Passover.
Jesus knew how the week would end, how on Friday He would die at the cross and how on Saturday, the day of rest, when all His work was finished, when Salvation was accomplished, He would rest in the tomb. Then on Easter morning He was raised up by His heavenly Father the first fruits of Eternal Life. And so it was that Jesus asked His question of them that day earlier in the week in the Temple.
With this in mind I ask you today: Have you perfectly kept God’s Law? Do you perfectly know it; do you know it well enough to even strive to keep it? Do you love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind? Do you faultlessly love your neighbour as yourself? Do you need a Christ, a Saviour, a Redeemer? And if So Who is that Christ? Is Jesus your Christ? He is the Christ … but I ask is He your Christ? Have you, do you put other things, other people, other concerns, other priorities before Him? He comes today with Forgiveness for you. He has won that forgiveness at the Cross. He though perfect and Holy allowed Himself to die a law breakers death in your place so that you and all people would have forgiveness in Him. As we are about to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation let us remember that it is still all about Christ Jesus and what He has done for us, that it is His righteousness, His perfection and sinlessness that we receive as a gift by grace. As St. Paul says, in Ephesians Chapter 2, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” This is what Christ has accomplished for you; this is who Christ Jesus is – the very Grace of God for you, for all people.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Matthew 22:42
 Matthew 21:9-11
 Matthew 21:14-16
 Matthew 22:45-46
 Matthew 21:46
 Mark 14:1-2
 Matthew 27:42-43
 Ephesians 2:8-10