Reformation Sunday left-overs…

So Jesus is once again fielding questions from the self-proclaimed experts.
Questions designed to test and taunt:

By whose authority do you teach?  (They ask, to cement their own authority)
is it right to pay the tax? (To pit Jesus against the civil rulers)
Which is the greatest commandment (this to prove Jesus a heretic –
for how can one particular law be greater ((or lesser)) than any other?)

And in every case Jesus proves to be up to the challenge –
Where authority is concerned, he tells a parable
that suggests the only authority worth recognizing, is Gods authority.
Where the tax is concerned, Jesus once again turns their question
back on the question of God’s sovereignty (give to Caesar – but also to God what is God’s)

Commandments – that’s easy, for all the commandments illustrate the first –
the greatest – the commandment to love God,
which extends to all of God’s creation (thus our neighbour as our self…)

The leaders and teachers and regular people –
all have sought answers (all for different reasons)
all have tried to use a particular understanding of God, of Scripture,
and of our experiences, to define Jesus – to predict outcomes –
to shape their image of the Kingdom.
And they have been less than successful.

So why does Jesus’ question –
an attempt to engage them in serious discussion
about Scripture and God’s encounter with humanity –
why does HIS question frighten them so?

What do you think of Messiah?  Whose son is he?
On the one hand, Jesus is asking that they take Scripture seriously – without question
(the Shema is invoked)
then He challenges the expectations (and traditional interpretation of the Psalms)
by suggesting that David’s “son”
is a metaphor describing the truth of who Messiah is,
rather than a direct link in the family tree to David, the hero King of Israel.

Matthew  records that the question so puzzled the group that;
“from that day [they did not] dare to ask him any more questions”
and I’m not surprised.
Questions that test our long held understandings and expectations
usually cause us all kinds of trouble.

If Jesus had stopped with his answer, there might have been no need for any more questions.
But Jesus is inviting us to a curious faith – encouraging us to  question long held assumptions.
Jesus isn’t afraid of our questions – nor should we be afraid of his.
For his questions will cause us to notice things..
Things that we have formerly taken for granted
things about the nature of God – the love of God – the people of God – will be thrown in a new light by the questions Jesus asks (and encourages us to ask…)
For you’ll notice that Jesus doesn’t ‘tell’ us the answer to his question
he leaves it hanging –
So…what do you think of Messiah?

What does it mean to call Messiah a “Son of David?”
How might our assumptions be holding us back in our dealings with God –
in our search for truth – in our commitment to Christ?
How do we face the situations life brings our way,
in a fashion that honours God revealed in Word and in Christ?

There is no answer in the text – there is only the challenge to face the question,
and it is Jesus himself who offers the challenge.
And if we truly wish to follow his example – if we wish to be Christ to the world – then we must never tremble at the questions – indeed, we must keep on asking them.

Such was the spirit that brought the church to Reformation
a spirit that sought, in scripture and in the spirit, not to throw down, but to build up.
It was questions – of authority, of interpretation, and application,
that moved people like Martin Luther, Jean Calvin, and many, many others ,
to move in directions that were frightening and dangerous
– and yet, their questions led to life – new life –
for the church of Christ in the world.

We need to remember the fear that gripped the minds
of those who heard the challenge of Jesus that day,
but we need not share that fear – nor fear the questions –
that will meet us on our faith journey.

For the one who challenges us holds us to only one law – the law of love
and held by that law, we need fear nothing at all.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: