Matthew 22:34-46 – In The Correct Order?

Posted: 25 November 2011 in Sermons

In the Correct Order?
^ Audio/Slideshow Link Above ^

23 Oct 2011

Grace, Mercy, Peace – text from Holy Spirit – Apostle Matthew [22:34-46 (37-40 spec.)]

   I.            Intro

In 1537, while preaching on today’s text, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther asked:

What, then, are we to do when the Law constantly demands and drives us on, and, after all, we cannot keep it?  For my conscience is ever judging me (I tell myself):  Because I should love God with all my heart and my neighbor as myself, and, after all, I cannot do so, I must be damned; and God says yes and confirms the judgment.  Who will help me in this predicament?  Says the Law:  I know of no way to help you.  The Law simply desires and requires you to be obedient.  (WLS#2362 preached by ML 30 Sept 1537 against Agricola & antinomians)

Father Luther was preaching against the attitudes of his day that were prevalent among many of the non-Lutheran reformers of his day, those which he called ‘antinomians’.  To that matter, non-Lutheran protestants of today and sadly some who call themselves Lutheran, believe that because of our being saved by faith alone, there is no need to be obedient to any religious code…or law…INCLUDING that which God has given His children in the Old Testament.

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day had just the opposite problem.  They believed and taught that strict adherence to the Law was all they NEEDED to do to obtain God’s favor. This can be understood from our Gospel lesson today…

II.            The Law

(Matthew 22, ESV) 34 But when the Pharisees heard that [Jesus] had silenced the Sadducees,
they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.
 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

As I stated, the Pharisees knew that, because they followed ALL of the Law, they were not really concerned with how Jesus answer would affect them.  No – they were rather prideful of how they followed the Torah and rabbinical law.  They knew in their hearts that anything Jesus could say would not convict them.

The Pharisees were very much like many self-professed Christian believers of today.  They knew in their self-proclaimed intellect that God is the Creator of all things and they loved Him so much they lived according to the Commandments (1st Commandment).  They attended worship each weekend (2nd Commandment).  They had always respected the elders of their family (4th Commandment).  They had never stolen, murdered or committed adultery (5th, 6th & 7th Commandments).  They had never lied about their neighbor nor did they want anything from their neighbors’ possessions (8th, 9th, 10th Commandments). As a matter of fact their neighbors weren’t as well off as they were, so why WOULD they want anything of theirs? (4’)

So they sent one of their best Law interpreters…a lawyer, to trip Jesus up with a very provocative question.  And how did our Lord answer him?  We read in…

(Matthew 22:37-40, ESV)  “And [Jesus] said to [the Lawyer],‘You shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.

Now, at first glance, we may not recognize our Lord’s restatement of Deuteronomy 6:5 nor the implication that I believe God had when these words were recorded, not only by Moses, but by Matthew and Luke.  For God underlines where the primary place is for this love in Deuteronomy 6:6:  “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.” (emp. added)

The Pharisees of Jesus day….the non-Lutheran church reformers of Brother Martin’s day AND many Christian believers today all suffer from the very same problem.  It is common to attempt to use one’s intellect to determine if we are pleasing God.  To rationalize how well we are following the Law.  Perhaps to justify, to ourselves and others, that even what MIGHT be seen as a sin is really spiritual discernment and love.

The Pharisees thought they would send a scholar, one who ‘thought he knew’ what God’s Law said.  They would do this, in their minds, to protect God’s people from a man with delusions of grandeur.  After all, in their own minds, the Pharisees were intellectually superior to this…this…carpenter’s son from Galilee.  And they had followed ‘to the letter’ the Law as given to Moses.

Today, there are many who think that they know how to please God.  Thus they will come up with new a better ways to prove so.  If they give more time and talent, if they spend more time at church, if they tell the public how good they are, if they vastly expand the roles of their churches, then…THEN God will truly be pleased with them.  AND if God is pleased with them…their devotion to Christ will be recognized by not only those around them, but by GOD Himself.  Yet, [NOTABLE PAUSE] God tells us through Moses, through Luke and through Matthew here that, our minds are the last place we should be concerned with loving Him.

First, we should love our God “with all our hearts”…..”and with all our souls.”  But, WAIT!  If we love Him first THERE, how will anyone ELSE know of our devotion!?

[PAUSE] That, brothers and sisters in Christ, is EXACTLY the point!  It does not matter what others know or see.  It most assuredly matters what our Father in Heaven sees when He looks upon us.  Unfortunately, we know from Scripture that, if left to our OWN intellect and our OWN methods, when God looks upon us He sees our poor, miserable, sinful selves.  He sees the heart that would spend time at the lake rather than attend worship.   He sees the heart that is angry and spiteful when someone cuts it off in traffic.  He sees the anger and verbal abuse which is cast at our government leaders.  He sees the financial, property and other lusts which are felt when watching the successes of neighbors. Yes, although our neighbors may not ‘know’ of our inabilities to follow God’s Law…our Father in Heaven most assuredly knows.  And He knows our inability to intellectually explain why we don’t follow His Law for He tells us through St Paul in Romans 7:(:15-21 ESV)

15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.[ 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.] 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. [For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.] 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.[ 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.

III.            The Gospel

Yes, our Heavenly Father knows all too well of our physical and mental failings.  He is fully aware of our inability to keep His Law in our own actions, on our own accord.  Thus, He sent His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Jesus was born, by the power of the Holy Spirit, of the Virgin Mary.  He was made Man.  Jesus was wholly Man and wholly God.  He came to teach us of the Father’s love for us.  Yet, unlike you and me, Jesus could physically demonstrate His Love.  Not only His Love for His Father in Heaven, but His Love for you and me.  Jesus did this with clear demonstration through His betrayal, through the punishment which Man placed upon Him during His trial before Pilot and…Jesus demonstrated His love for you and me by giving up His very Body and Blood on the Cross of Calvary.  He was nailed to that cross because of your sins and mine, because we CAN NOT, on our accord, do anything which is pleasing to God.  ONLY due to the power of the Holy Spirit working in our hearts, are we found pleasing to God.  ONLY due to the power of the Holy Spirit calling out to Him is the Father able to hear and heed our prayers.  ONLY due to the faith granted us by the Holy Spirit can you and I be called “the children of God”.  And that we are….Children of the Most High God.

IV.            Conclusion

So…when the time is right, when all is accomplished in God’s eyes, Jesus will come again.  Jesus will come and all will look to Him and know in their hearts, their souls and their minds that Jesus is Lord.  Those who have attempted to intellectually explain their faith may look upon Him in absolute fear and horror, for it will be clear to THEM at that moment that their hearts had not been first in loving God.  However, for you and me, as well as for all the saints gone before, WE will look upon our descending Lord with thankfulness and faith.  You and I will, in our hearts, in our souls and in our minds know that we will join with all the saints, with all the angels and archangels of Heaven giving all the glory to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  Giving all praise and honor to our Triune God while living in His peace and confidence for ever.

+ in nomino jesu +

May the Peace which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen

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