Who is this guy?

Brewer Closer John Axford being congratulated after Game 4 
of the 2011 National League Championship Series.

Matthew 22:34-46
For Sunday, October 23, 2011
Proper 25

Was Jesus credible?  When reading this passage it’s very easy to focus on the first part and forget about the second.  

The first part is certainly compelling.  In his prior at bat, Jesus hit the Sadducees out of the park.  Now the Pharisees, as the other half of Israel’s theological “A Team”,  decide it’s time for them to step in.  They send their Closer (“an expert in the law“) to see if this Jesus character can’t be brought back down to size.  The Expert comes in hard, high, and fast: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?”   The idea is to throw Jesus an un-hittable pitch (how could any one commandment be greater than all the others?!)  

Jesus answers in two parts.  First, he says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”  Love is the glue that holds the gospel together.  If we aren’t willing to love our Heavenly Father with all of our heart, soul, and mind, the exercise of Christianity is really pointless.  The second commandment then naturally follows from the first: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Good answer.  Jesus has just knocked The Expert’s best pitch clean out of the park.  

Yet Jesus does not stop there.  He proceeds to throw the Pharisees a pitch of his own: “Whose son is the Christ?”  “Oh, well, that’s easy” respond the Pharisees, “The Christ is the Son of David.  Everybody knows that.”  The hanging curve came in looking like a big softball, but then the pitch breaks violently.  Jesus asks, “Okay… if Christ is the Son of David then why would David call him Lord?  If David called him Lord, how could he also be David’s son?”  Swing and a miss: “No one could say a word in reply and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.”  For the Pharisees, questioning the validity of the Scriptures was a non-starter.  There was only one other option: The Christ was not only David’s son but also God himself in human form, now standing right in front of them.

What holds these two passages together is the question, “Who is this guy?”  Jesus’ credibility was being challenged by the best lawyers and theologians in the land and he passed with a home run followed by a shutdown inning.  

So what does this passage call for from us?  For those of us who are not yet Christians this is a call to wrestle seriously with whether Jesus was who he says he was: the Son of God and God’s final offer to save us from ourselves.  For those of us who are Christians this is a call to live in light of the truth we know: do our lives reflect the credibility we know Jesus to possess?

Reader’s Corner:
If Jesus’ credibility was being challenged in our culture, who would be challenging him, what questions would they ask, and how would he respond?  

Author’s note:  I have informed Google that the extra spaces their editor is putting between my paragraphs may soon cause me to migrate to WordPress.  Manually editing the HTML has grown tiresome.  I am still awaiting a reply.  Blogger just hasn’t been the same since it’s acquisition.  


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