Day Thirty-two: Tuesday, July 21st, 2020
Bible Lesson: Matthew 22:15-46
Reflection from Pastor Wayne Eberly:
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”
- Jesus entered Jerusalem to shouts of “Hosanna to the Son of David!”
- The crowd acclaimed, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
- Once more they raised their voices, “Hosanna in the highest!
- Jesus cleared the temple as he quoted the scriptures, “My house will be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of robbers.”
- When the religious leaders became indignant at the praise offered by the crowd, Jesus pointed to the psalm, “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise.”
- He met their question about his authority with one of his own, “John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?”
- He told a parable foretelling his rejection.
- He told a parable about a banquet where God’s rich generosity was refused.
- He gave Caesar his coins, but by implication asserted God’s right to the whole person.
Now Jesus is faced with questions about marriage and Old Testament customs for a brother to step in and carry on a deceased brother’s name. But this question is not designed to answer whose name would be carried on, this was just an attempt to add confusion. He answers the question about the greatest commandment perfectly, but the one asking intended the question as a test, perhaps yet another trap. In answer to their many questions Jesus again turns to the Scriptures to show that the Christ would be greater than David.
All these questions…all these attempts to test or trap Jesus…all these efforts to derail him from his mission…they seem to come to an end as chapter 22 closes with these words, “No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.” (Matthew 22:46) Indeed, the questions do seem to come to an end. But what follows the time of questioning is far worse. The move toward rejection comes swiftly in these last days Jesus lived on earth.
Isaiah 6 is a chapter filled with a glorious revelation. The prophet sees the Lord seated on his throne, high and exalted. The angels sing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.” There is a dramatic scene of forgiveness seared into our minds with a burning coal. The call of the Lord goes out, “Whom shall I send?” Immersed in the holiness of the Lord the prophet cries out, “Here am I. Send me.” And yes, the prophet is sent.
But as the prophet is sent, he is told his message will not be received, for the people will be ever hearing, but never understanding; ever seeing, but never perceiving. Their hearts will be calloused, their ears dull, and their eyes closed.
We get the sinking feeling as we read about the final week of his life on earth that Jesus has come to a people whose eyes and ears are shut, whose hearts are calloused, who will not believe his message. In the case of Jesus, the messenger is the message. He is the Messiah. He is the Son of God. To reject his message is to reject him.
What about us, the ones who read of his encounters in Jerusalem.
Are our eyes ready to see?
Are our ears ready to listen?
Are our hearts soft and ready to receive Jesus?
As we follow the movement of many to reject Jesus, let us remember it is never too late to grab a palm branch and join the great confession of faith. “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
In this reading Jesus shares the two great commandments of Scripture: Love of God and love of neighbor. “In an age when the word ‘love’ is greatly abused, it is important to remember that the primary component of biblical love is not affection but commitment. Warm feelings of gratitude may fill our consciousness as we consider all that God has done for us, but it is not warm feelings that Deuteronomy 6:5 demands of us but rather stubborn, unwavering commitment. Similarly, to love our neighbor, including our enemies, does not mean that we must feel affection for them. To love the neighbor is to imitate God by taking their needs seriously.” (Douglas Hare, Matthew, p. 260)