Eighteenth Sunday after Holy Trinity
Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
It is written: 34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. 35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 † Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. 41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. 43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, 44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? 45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? 46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions. The Holy Bible: King James Version., electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version. (Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995), Mt 22:34–46.
34 But when the Pharisees had heard that Jesus had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. The Pharisees and the Sadducees are two groups of religious leaders. The main difference that we need to know about from this passage is that the Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection from the dead whereas the Pharisees did believe and teach a resurrection from the dead. Jesus had put the Sadducees to silence. Jesus showed the Sadducees that they do not know the Scriptures. God is the God of the living not the dead.
The Pharisees delighted that the Sadducees were defeated in public. One enemy down. Only Jesus is left.
35 Then one of the Pharisees, which was an expert in the Holy Scriptures, asked Jesus a question, tempting Jesus, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Satan uses this kind of questioning. Get someone to question the Holy Scriptures, the Word of God, and let sin carry the day. False teachers use the same kind of questioning. Get someone to question whether the Holy Scriptures are God’s Word and then let sin carry the day...in the name of the Lord. But the Lord answers the Pharisees...
37 † Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
The expert in the Holy Scriptures does not argue. The Pharisees accept Jesus’ answer.
In catechism class this last Wednesday, we briefly discussed a Lawless Christianity and Legalistic Christianity.
This morning, the Sadducees are an example of Lawless Christianity. God’s Law is good to make daily living better. No need to fear sin. Life is short, today, we eat and drink and be merry; and tomorrow we die. The Sadducees teach a salvation from sin by means of the Gospel alone. Believe in God but don’t worry about sin. Don’t wrestle with the Ten Commandments. This is Lawless Christianity.
The Pharisees are an example of Legalistic Christianity. God’s Law must be followed in order to extinguish sin before the resurrection. Sin is a problem. Sin must be fought. The Pharisees teach a salvation from sin by means of the Law alone. This is Legalistic Christianity.
But, Jesus is neither Lawless nor Legalistic. The Holy Scripture had two sermons in it. Jesus distinguishes between these two sermons but holds both of them important. The first sermon is the Law Sermon. The Law of God will never go away. It is an eternal Law. It is the order of creation. The second sermon is the Gospel sermon. The Gospel of God is the promise of God. He promises to restore creation by through the Christ. So, this Christ, who is Jesus, asks the Pharisees a question in return…
41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is He? They say unto him, The Son of David. Before we get back to the Sadducees and Pharisees, what do you think of the Christ? Is your Christ the Christ that is promised in the Scriptures?
For those of you who are more the emotional type, you will be tempted to believe in a Christ that makes you feel good regardless of what is written. You might say, “God loves me no matter what!” Although there is more than a kernel of truth in your claim, Holy Scripture has more to say. Scripture says that God loves you through Christ, the crucified One - no matter what. So, what do you think of this crucified Jesus? Are you saying the same thing as Holy Scripture or are you practicing a Lawless Christianity like the Sadducees - whom Jesus needed to correct?
For those of you who are more the thinking type, you will be tempted to believe in a Jesus that makes sense to you regardless of what is written. You might read the Holy Scripture diligently and say, “God loves me because I practice what He has written!” Although there is also a kernel of truth in your claim, Holy Scripture has more to say. Holy Scripture says that God loves you through the Christ. So, what do you think of the crucified Jesus? Are you saying you follow Holy Scripture while downplaying Jesus Christ? Are you practicing a Legalistic Christianity like the Pharisees? If so, then you need to hear what Jesus says next.
43 Jesus saith unto the Pharisees, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, 44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? 45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? 46 And no man was able to answer Jesus a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask Jesus any more questions.
The Pharisees get confused when faced with Holy Scripture. They cannot answer Jesus’ question. The Sadducees have a great opportunity to win a few points against their clerical opponents. But, the Sadducees also get confused when faced with Holy Scripture. In fact, no one was able to answer Jesus. No one is able to answer God.
Jesus is quoting Psalms 2 and 110 from the Old Testament. The Lord who created David will also become the Lord born from David’s descendant - the virgin Mary. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” John 1:14. Jesus is the Word. Jesus is the Lord. Jesus is the Christ who proclaims, “I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” John 14:6.
28. But what shall we do to get rid of our bad conscience? Here follows now the other part of this Gospel, namely, who Christ is and what we can expect of him. From him we must receive and secure freedom from a wicked conscience, or we shall remain in our sins eternally, because for this purpose is Christ made known and given by the Father, in order that he might deliver us from sin, death, from a wicked conscience, and from the law.
31. Now this is accomplished in the following manner: Christ has through his death secured for us the Holy Spirit; and he fulfills the law in us, and not we. For that Spirit, whom God sends into your heart for the sake of his Son, makes an entirely new man out of you, who does with joy and love from the heart everything the law requires, which before would have been impossible for you to do. This new man despises the present life, and desires to die, rejoices in all adversity, and submits himself wholly and entirely to the will of God. Whatever God does with him, is well pleasing to him. This Spirit you cannot merit yourself, but Christ has secured and merited it. When I believe from the heart that Christ did this for me, I receive also the same Holy Spirit that makes me an entirely new man. Then everything God commands is sweet, lovely and agreeable, and I do everything he desires of me; not in my own strength, but by the strength of him that is in me, as Paul says in Philippians, 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me.”
32. But you must take heed, that you do not undertake to secure this faith in Jesus Christ by your own works or power, or that you think lightly about this matter; for it is impossible for the natural man; but the Holy Spirit must do it. Therefore beware of the preachers of self-righteousness, who simply blabber and say: We must do good works in order to be saved.
But we say that faith alone is sufficient to this end. Our good works are for another purpose, namely, to prove our faith, as you have already frequently heard; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.