Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World

That's What He Said, The Greatest Commandment

October 26, 2020 Pastor Dave Tucker Season 4 Episode 20
Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World
That's What He Said, The Greatest Commandment
Chapters
Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World
That's What He Said, The Greatest Commandment
Oct 26, 2020 Season 4 Episode 20
Pastor Dave Tucker

Who is Jesus? He is love! Plain and simple… But Jesus is not the soft pillowy, warm and fuzzy, tingly kind love that we often associate with love. Jesus is RADICAL LOVE! Jesus’ Love takes us as we are but doesn’t leave us there!

Based on Matthew 22:34-46
Originally preached October 25, 2020 
at St. Timothy Cumberland Presbyterian Church

Show Notes Transcript

Who is Jesus? He is love! Plain and simple… But Jesus is not the soft pillowy, warm and fuzzy, tingly kind love that we often associate with love. Jesus is RADICAL LOVE! Jesus’ Love takes us as we are but doesn’t leave us there!

Based on Matthew 22:34-46
Originally preached October 25, 2020 
at St. Timothy Cumberland Presbyterian Church

THAT’S WHAT HE SAID, SHENANIGANS PART 2,
THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT
MATTHEW 22:34-46

 Shenanigans! It’s the only appropriate way to put it! Shenanigans! The questions asked by the religious leaders of Jesus’ day weren’t really questions with an intent to understand. They were questions with an intent to build a case against Jesus. Today we are continuing what we started last week. As we trek through the latter part of the gospel of Matthew we find ourselves in the middle of the religious leaders trying to build a case against Jesus. Every time, Jesus foils their questions by demonstrating that he is an Orthodox Jew, while at the same time leaving the ‘questioners’ with more questions… questions designed to reach to the very soul. Jesus is the Messiah! But he is the wrong Messiah! Jesus did not fit any of the preconceived understandings of who Messiah was to be and what Messiah was supposed to accomplish. This created quite a crisis for the religious leaders. You see, according to the religious establishment, Jesus was simply the wrong messiah, doing all the wrong things, in all the wrong ways. Jesus attracted all the wrong people, performed miracles on all the wrong people… and often on the wrong day. 

Which leads us to the question of the morning, who is Jesus to us? Is Jesus a simple slogan on a bumper sticker? “I *heart Jesus!” Is Jesus, to us, a person who agrees with our political affiliations? Is Jesus simply a name we cry out to only when we are in trouble? What neat and tidy boxes have we created to put Jesus in? Jesus tells us who he is… are we ready to hear the answer? Today, Jesus speaks to us, in his own words! It’s What He Says! Let us invite the Holy Spirit to join us as we ask the question, Who is Jesus? And what does He expect from us? 

[PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION]

SCRIPTURE READING, MATT 22:34-46

Matt. 22:34   When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35 and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 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.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Matt. 22:41    Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: 42 “What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” 43 He said to them, “How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying,

44        ‘The Lord said to my Lord,

         “Sit at my right hand,

                  until I put your enemies under your feet” ’?

45 If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?” 46 No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

Today literally picks up where we left off last week! We begin with the understanding of Whose we are and builds upon that understanding! First, let’s unpack our reading for today. First off, there were many different sects or ‘political parties’ during the time of Jesus. Some of the sects we know more about than others. We have already seen the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and Herodians represented to this point. There were also Scribes, Essenes, Hasmonians, and Zealots. In the interest of time, we are only going to focus on the Pharisees and the Sadducees this morning. The Pharisees and Sadducees got along about as well as the Democrats and Republicans do today. HOWEVER, their mutual hatred for Jesus generated bipartisan support. They were united in taking Jesus down and building a case against him… the reasons? Jesus was simply the wrong messiah! He did not fit into their preconceived understandings… and he simply would not play into their grabs for power. 

The Pharisees were experts of the law. Studying the law and the teachings of the prophets was what they did… and they saw themselves as the enforcers! You often see Pharisees paired with the Scribes… who were supposed to be the ones who wrote down the interpretations of the law as they heard it from the Pharisees, but to be honest, they were merely the Pharisees’ henchmen. Anyway, one of the Pharisees… (AKA lawyer) came up to Jesus with another no win question. Remember these people lived and breathed the law and the prophets and the Pharisees most likely selected their most learned and brilliant lawyer to ask the question “Teacher,” he said with a smirk. “What is the greatest commandment?” Jesus, without blinking, rapidly responded with Judaism’s most fundamental, ancient, and widely recited biblical passage, the Shema: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Deut. 6:5) This was nothing new for the lawyer… He had heard the Shema all his life! What he didn’t see coming was what Jesus said next. Jesus combined this well-known Shema with another command found in Lev. 19:18 – “And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Then Jesus made another unexpected move by saying, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

WOW! Jesus just simplified everything the Pharisees had built up into two commands, “Love the Lord your God with all your and with all your soul, and with all your mind… and Love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s like a verbal boxing match! The lawyer got a good punch in, “What is the greatest commandment?” And Jesus came back with a one, two, three punch that took the lawyer out of the match! Punch one, “love God,” punch two, “love others,” and the knockout punch, “Everything you teach hangs on these two principles.”

But Jesus isn’t done. Verses 41-46 at first glance may seem unrelated but these verses actually take those listening to Jesus’ words even deeper into the understanding that Jesus is the Son of God. 

I want for us to spend the rest of the morning talking about the first part of the passage. Who is Jesus? He is love! Plain and simple… But Jesus is not the soft pillowy, warm and fuzzy, tingly kind love that we often associate with love. Jesus is RADICAL LOVE! Jesus’ Love takes us as we are but doesn’t leave us there! Whenever we have an encounter with Jesus, we are never quite the same person as before the encounter. We humans tend to put strings on love. Often, we only love those who think like us. We want to love but still be in control. It has entered into our relationships… especially our marriages. “Honey, I love you but…” I know for a fact that this was the major philosophical difference between Jesus and the religious leaders of his day. The religious leaders sought to control God’s chosen people. Jesus wanted to Love. God’s people always had to look over their shoulder wondering if they were following God the right way. Jesus’ love provided freedom. Jesus lovingly said, “I am the way” (John 14:6). The religious leaders too many times put the cart before the horse! They would tell God’s people that they needed to follow the letter of the law to avoid the wrath of God. Jesus’s love said, “I don’t condemn you… go and sin no more.”

I need for us to understand this morning that Jesus’ radical love goes against the grain of human understanding… and it is literally what eventually got Jesus killed. It’s not popular to say, love your enemies… WE WANT TO GET EVEN! Radical love says, “I forgive you” Jesus, while hanging on the cross, gave the perfect example of this forgiveness when he cried out to God, “FATHER, forgive them for they know not what they do!” Now I don’t want to be misunderstood here, if you are in an abusive situation, God does not expect you to stay in that situation. Yet, God expects us to love.

So based upon our sermon lesson from last week of ALL humans belong to God… does it not stand to reason that we need to love those who were created in God’s image? I’m not saying that it is always easy… what I AM saying, however, is that it is necessary. It is a direct command from God!

In conclusion, I would like to end with the famous Love Chapter found in 1 Corinthians 13. I would encourage all of us to listen with new ears and read with new eyes. This type of love is not as easy as it seems… and yet the passage says that without love, we are nothing! I invite you to close your eyes and meditate on the reading this morning. Ask yourself, what is God trying to tell me through this passage I will pause at the end of the reading for just a bit to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts: 

1Cor. 13:1   If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

1Cor. 13:4   Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

1Cor. 13:8   Love never ends. 

 

[Pause]

AMEN

JOURNAL PROMPTS:

·       Five daily Gratitudes

·       In what ways have you tried to put Jesus into your own theological box?

·       Does Jesus’ command to love God, neighbour, and self challenge you in any way? 

·       Is there someone in your life whom you need to forgive or ask forgiveness from?