Thursday, 27 October 2011
Reading the chapters of Matthew’s Gospel as we have been doing over recent weeks has seen a building up of tension. We have heard parables where it was seen Jesus was speaking against the Pharisee and the Jews, and we have seen challenging questions put to Jesus with a view of tricking Jesus or at best putting him in the corner. It has been like watching two boxers in the ring, or the Grand national as the horses one by one fall.
Today knock out! Today the horse at the back suddenly takes the lead. One question from Jesus and “they dare not ask him any more questions”
In Rabbinical writings and discussion Jesus question remains to this day debated and fought over. The question furthermore was not a new question even then, just in the same way that Jesus answer about the greatest (most important) commandment was an answer that everyone accepted at that time and ever since. In that sense no new ground was being broken here, except that for Matthew this is a watershed in the gospel and from here the Passion journey is embarked and Jesus issues a series of “woes” to the religious folk of that time.
Moses was the greatest prophet Israel had known according to the OT reading, he had led the people all that way, he had been in the presence of God himself (last week) yet because of the people’s rebellion he was not allowed to enter the land to which he had gallantly led them.
Jesus is also described as a “teacher of great authority” and as “the Messiah of God” and we hear many were healed and made whole by him, and at times he was thronged by people eagerly waiting for the Kingdom of God. And this man from today sets his face to Jerusalem and the crucifixion.
We come today to a turning point in the church’s year and next week is the beginning of what some call the kingdom season, which culminates with the feast of Christ the King. Next week is also “All Saints Sunday” when we celebrate the great crowd of witnesses of which we hopefully count ourselves a part.
It is with every intention, following our baptism, that you and I become part of the Kingdom people. We have seen ourselves as the Body of Christ in the World today. From today’s epistle, “ … when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers” (1 Thes 2:13)
In this respect we become a people of God and dwellers alongside the countless witnesses recorded in the Epistle to the Hebrews, In a “Land of Promise”.
(Don’t forget Matthew sees the church as the new Israel and the new dedicated nation.)
With this in mind and on our hearts we should all consider the way we speak and act, both among ourselves and amongst others. Paul constantly had to remonstrate with congregations under his care for the way they behaved amongst each other and how they coped with disagreement and grumbles. What might Paul have to say to us here today I wonder?
We are brothers and sisters together in this congregation, and I was speaking with someone this week and I repeat to you all what I said to this person, we will live and grow in this place only because of the people in God we are, only because the love we show to each other is strong and healing. Forgiveness and love must be the hall marks of God’s people, this has always been the case, “see how they Love God” and loving God as we have seen means loving neighbour absolutely. (It is not a matter of choice)
I work alongside people who have sometimes no one to love and no one apparently loves them.
Look at yourself now, look at us…. We are so rich and greatly blessed. Let us not loose sight of the way we bless each other in love. Many people today will literally die for lack of what we have.
Christ Shared our life that we might live in him and that he might live in us, we accepted this call at our baptism. He embraced us as his children and welcomed us at his supper. He even washes our dirty feet over and over. He opened wide his arms for us on the cross and through this we are able to join with all God’s people in a song of the Kingdom.
Let us with the countless multitude of saints next week gather and sing “Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the lamb” blessed are they who come together in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest.