Posted by on Oct 30, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Greatest Law

Dear Lord….we are living in a time right now that is unprecedented. Thank you for being our Savior. Thank you for listening to us when we are wanting to know what to do in any situation. Thank you for speaking to us and leading us to how we can show people we belong to you. Thank you for your love and forgiveness when we fall short.
Our consideration this week is coming from our gospel lesson from Matthew 22:34-46. We are also celebrating Reformation Sunday this week, so there is a LOT God wants us to consider.
On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany. He also mailed this document to the Archbishop of Mainz for consideration of making changes within the church. I had never thought about looking at these writings, but I did make a copy of all 95 theses this week. I was impressed by the very first sentence of these 95 statements, that says, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said ‘Repent’ (Mt. 4:17) he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” This was the beginning of the statements that Luther wanted the church to go back to the Bible…to the basics and back to Jesus, the core of the gospel.

These statements began changes that were not popular with some, but helped other churches form their history. In fact, the Methodist church began as a part of the Church of England and was further developed by Wesley when he saw how people enjoyed meeting in smaller groups outside a large worship facility. This was not a peaceful change…and the history of all denominations is FAR from calm and quiet.
John Wesley, himself was changed and “greatly warmed” when he heard Luther’s preface to Romans that stated, “Change is what God works in a person’s heart through faith in Christ.” At this time, Wesley was questioning some of his beliefs and found great comfort in the words. Even though Wesley did not leave the Church of England, he espoused many of the thoughts and considerations of Martin Luther…that was written about 200 years before Wesley’s ministry began. We still celebrate this day as a sense of moving toward unity and community.

Now, we come to consideration of the gospel lesson for today, where Jesus is again faced with questions from the leaders of the temple. The Pharisees were disturbed when they found out Jesus had silenced the Sadducees and decided to see if they could test Jesus.

The question they asked him was about the “greatest commandment in the law.” They, of course, were talking about the Torah…the law they followed and studied. These two laws were stated in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus19:18. Jesus response is stated in verse 37, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment.” In verse 38, Jesus goes on to say that the second commandment is, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The Pharisees knew these verses, but they were on the offensive as Jesus had quieted the Sadducees. The Pharisees were responsible for knowing and studying the Law to be counselors and judges as well as administer the Law. So, this testing was really diabolical on their part as they were trying to prove they knew more.

In preparing for this sermon, I wanted to look up the definition of “love” just to investigate. There are 12 different definitions in Merriam Webster for this word. One of the definitions is “unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another, such as the fatherly concern of God for humankind, brotherly concern for others.” In other words, the love of God is to come from every part of a person’s being (heart, soul and mind) to meet the needs of others.

Jesus then asked the Pharisees who they thought the Messiah was. He was attempting to show the crowd how superficial the Pharisees were as well as help them understand Him better later on. The Pharisee’s answer was deficient. They said the Messiah was a “Son of David”. Jesus told them the Messiah was more than a descendent of David. He was challenging them and knew what their answer would be.
The answer Jesus gave them was explaining the Messiah was fully human and fully God. The Messiah had a dual nature and dual paternity. Interestingly enough this fourth question that Jesus asked is part of the formal statements of the Passover meal.
The Jewish leaders loved to make sure the congregation in the temple thought they knew everything and were “above” the “everyday” person. They were thinking of themselves first. This is not the type of love Jesus is talking about either loving God and most especially loving our neighbors as ourselves.
Loving others is not easy and Jesus knew that. How did Jesus react to the questions of the temple elders? He reacted with intelligence and caring. He didn’t “talk down” to them, rather he was teaching them.
Right now, it’s not easy to listen to some people, because of the divisiveness of our current situation. How do you handle the discussions? How do you show others you don’t always agree with that you are a disciple of Christ and really do love them as a child of God?
Please remember that God loves you….He always has from the day you were created. He is always with you. Through the giving of His Son, Jesus, He offered you forgiveness of sin if you just say “yes, Lord…I believe.” He gives you the Holy Spirit to lead and teach you every day of our lives.


October 2020


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