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Trinity 18 – Matthew 22:34-46

by pastorjuhl ~ October 27th, 2011

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

            When you answer a question, always more could be said to answer a question. Giving the correct answer only is part of the answer. Showing how you came to discover the answer is as important as the answer itself. Math teachers get upset when you merely write down an answer to a problem without showing how you got the answer. They want you to show your work. Anyone can punch numbers into a calculator to get an answer. How did you figure out the answer in your brain? That’s as important as the answer.

The Pharisees ask Jesus a question about the great commandment in the Law. Jesus gives them the answer. He doesn’t have to show His work. The Pharisees know where to find the answer. Jesus asks the Pharisees a question in return. They give the answer, but it’s only part of the answer. Jesus gives them a hint to the correct answer, even telling them where to find the answer in order to show their work. The Pharisees won’t take the bait.

The two questions and their answers between Jesus and the Pharisees show you how to confess Christ as both David’s Son and David’s Lord. Jesus is David’s Son according to the flesh. Jesus is also David’s Lord according to His divinity. Jesus alone is able to love God and neighbor according to His Father’s commandments. Jesus alone is able to make His enemies, and yours, His footstool through His innocent suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven.

It is not possible merely to give God’s Law lip service and say that you are keeping the Law. That is the Pharisees’ problem. That is also your problem. You can say you love God and your neighbor all you want. If you do not put this love into action, if you do not sacrifice all your wants and needs in order to love God and neighbor over everything else in your life, then you fall short of the mark God expects from His children.

Hear the Word of the Lord from the Old Testament Reading: And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good? When the Lord says “Israel”, He is talking about children of God born into the Promise as well as children of God grafted into the Promise through faith in Jesus Christ. The verb here is “require.” The Lord is not requesting you to keep His Law. The Lord demands His Law perfectly kept. Merely doing the Law while your heart is not set upon loving God and neighbor brings everlasting death, for the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe.

It is not possible for you to love God as He demands. So He sends His only-begotten Son into the flesh to keep the Law perfectly in your place. He sends Jesus as Incarnate Love. Jesus loves strangers as well as the children of Israel by blood. His love extends to the cross, where He dies an innocent death for both the Jew and the Gentile. All those who trust in Jesus as conqueror of sin, death, and the devil are redeemed, bought back, from Satan. You are His child by faith. His redemption is yours. He does not keep the spoils of victory when He rises from the dead and returns to His Father. He gives His forgiveness and life in His Word, through preaching and the Sacraments.

Trusting in this Good News from God is a confession of His only-begotten Son. It is a confession of faith that says to a dying world that there is a remedy to sin and death. The remedy is Jesus Christ’s blood and righteousness. It is a confession that you cannot save yourself. It is a confession that you cannot keep God’s Law as it should be kept. Confessing Christ is humbling. Confessing Jesus empties you of all pride and self-righteousness. Confessing Christ is also exalting. This exaltation is not self-exaltation. Christ exalts you to eternal life by putting His enemies, and yours, under His feet.

The question Jesus puts to the Pharisees is What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He? How you answer Jesus’ question says a lot about whom you trust. If you say that Jesus is merely a man who does good things for others but had to suffer death because of it, then your answer is more than incorrect. Your answer confesses Christ not as David’s Lord, but David’s Son. If Jesus is merely a man, then He is not able to give you eternal salvation. His death becomes an example of how far you should go to love others.

If you say Jesus is God without confessing He is also man, then your answer is more than incorrect. You confess that Jesus wants nothing to do with flesh and blood. Jesus would never lower Himself to die a sinner’s death. Perhaps the man dying on the cross is not the Very Son of God, but an image of God. This man is someone who says he is God, but is actually not God. He is a mirage for those who think they believe Jesus Christ is Lord.

Well-meaning Christians easily believe both of these heresies. Both have vexed the Church Militant for centuries. Both heresies show up from time to time among Christian communions. Both false teachings should be avoided. The clear confession of Christ is not to give a partial answer in order not to trap you as the Pharisees do. The clear confession of Christ is to say He is both David’s Son and David’s Lord. Jesus is both God and man. Jesus puts His enemies, and yours, under His feet when He rises from the dead victorious over Satan and his minions. The old evil foe is vanquished. Jesus wins the victory you cannot accomplish. Through faith in Jesus, His victory is your victory. Through faith in Jesus, His resurrection will be your resurrection. Through faith in Jesus, His ascension paves the way for your ascension with Him, along with all the faithful, on the Last Day.

The devil indeed is in the details. Giving a partial answer to the question of salvation is dangerous. Either you will deny Christ’s divinity or Christ’s humanity. The full answer is to confess a “full-bodied” Jesus Christ. He is truly God and truly man. Jesus alone keeps the Law as you should. Jesus alone atones for sin. Jesus alone bestows you sonship. Jesus is David’s Son and David’s Lord. Jesus makes your enemies His footstool. Along with Saint Paul, you are eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

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