Turning the Tables
Lord, my life is attuned with grateful praise. My tongue cannot utter all the joy and celebration in my heart.
Read MATTHEW 22:34-46
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Matthew 22 ends in a stunning way, as Jesus interacts with the Pharisees. As N. T. Wright says, “The answer the opponents couldn’t question, was followed by the question they couldn’t answer.” This is our Lord and Savior.
A lawyer will seek to frame a law so that there can be no mistake with its meaning or dispute over its interpretation. Jesus, in his response to a lawyer’s question, goes to the heart of the law of God. Not only does he identify two texts of Scripture (Deut. 6:5; Lev. 19:18), out of all the 613 that the Pharisees counted as the prime commandments of God, but in doing so he emphasizes that love is central to all obedience. The Pharisees saw religion as the keeping of rules. Jesus sets love at the heart of our relationship with God and our neighbor. Paul would later write, “Love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom. 13:10). The lawyer may have looked for a limitation of his responsibilities by the defining of the greatest commandment, but the love Jesus taught and modeled has no restrictions. In framing a confession of faith, the 2010 Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in Cape Town began each clause with “We love…,” in contrast to other declarations of belief that seem to demand only intellectual assent.
After so many questions to him, Jesus directs a question back to the Pharisees. He tackles the central issue that they need to decide upon–their understanding of who he is. The “Son of David” has been used frequently in this Gospel as a Messianic title, but now Jesus wants to separate it from its political and nationalistic connotations and raise the stakes about his own identity by asking for an explanation of Psalm 110:1. The Messiah is not just David’s son, but his Lord. The claim that had been implicit in the parables is now in the open. Is not the Messiah the Son of God? The Pharisees could not answer, but on the day of Pentecost this same text would be part of Peter’s sermon that resulted in three thousand people confessing Jesus as Savior and Lord (Acts 2:34-35,41).
By Jesus’s definition, what kind of a lover are you? In what way do you want to grow in love right now? How might you do so?
Heavenly Father, may Your love reside and abide in my heart. I want that love to awaken others to Jesus, their Savior and Lord.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2023 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Encounter with God is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.