Sermon Text: Matthew 22:34-46
Full Text of Sermon
The text is the last in a sequence of questions that the various leaders of the Jews in Jerusalem were quizzing Jesus with. In the Synoptics (Matt, Mark and Luke) Jesus is only in Jerusalem once, and the leaders are testing him. Finding out where he falls. The first of the questions is tricky and political. The second by the Sadducees was just the sniggering expression of a cynical elite. But this last one by a representative of the Pharisees is serious. What is the summary of the law?
And Jesus treats it seriously. He doesn’t cryptically answer it or just swat it away. He gives an answer. Love God; love your neighbor as yourself. We don’t always see it, but there are three loves in there: God, others and self. The core of the law is to love them all.
We all have more or less success with that, but the law only goes so far. In the middle of the puzzlement of how do I balance those, Jesus asks a question. What do you think about the Christ? The Pharisees answer – he’s the son of David. A King. A representative of the law. But Jesus pushes them. Why does David, the highest law – the great king – admit to another Lord? And he leaves the question hanging.
I try in this sermon to put that same hanging question on the hearer. What do you think about the Christ? Does he fulfill the law? What does it mean to call him Lord? The answers are yours. I think that is the difference between a theology from above and one from below. If you are working with a theology from above, you proclaim the majesty and Lordship. (And the hymns for the day did that proclamation for us.) If you are working with a theology from below, you invite, you portray, you ask people to observe and draw conclusions. Both can bring forth faith in the hands of the Spirit. The first invites the Amen! The second challenges to thought. Look deeper. Put aside the standard answers and come up with your own. Work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12). The church needs both. The Christian needs both – the amen and the reflection.