Nearly every week, we repeat this Sunday’s Gospel at the 8:00 o’clock service. Rite One states,Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
The Jews repeated the Shema every day from childhood, and they still failed to recognize Jesus when he stood in their midst. But do you ever wonder what makes us feel more secure about our salvation than the Jews of Jesus’ day? How can we claim to know him better than they did?
If we fail to see the verse in context, then the danger of denying the Savior is just as real for us today. Note that in today’s Gospel, Jesus has been warding off attacks from both the Sadducees and the Pharisees. Yet even in these passages, even as the tension is increasing, He remains committed to these people and to God’s will. Despite the stiff -necked response of the Israelites, God is still for them. Mark’s version (See Mark 12:34) of the story lends insight into the compassion and patience of Jesus as He tries to instruct His people.
Jesus reveals that the mission is so much larger than the people imagine. He is not building a worldly kingdom in the Middle East but redeeming His entire creation. The revelation comes in the form of a question. After silencing His foes, he asks, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is He?” It seems pretty innocuous really. Everybody of the day would have known that the Savior was to come from the line of David. Everyone was looking back at the glory days of King David and waiting for the uprising that would bring back his kingdom. The problem was that they wanted to see God come but could not imagine Him coming in any way beyond their comprehension.
Jesus uses a well-known, accepted reference of the day, Psalm 110, to form His question and like Socrates, to teach His audience, including us. If the Savior is the son of David, a premise which all believed, then why does he call his son Lord? How is the Savior his son? He must be something more. It is that “something more” that makes all of the difference.
Yet even knowing that Jesus is Lord does not simplify living. The difficulty remains that navigating God’s will is far from simple. Love God and Love thy neighbor as thyself, right? But how? Following the Spirit is more of an art and discipline than it is following a set of rules. One can be taught principles and guidelines, but every path, though similar, will be different.
This Sunday I would like to explore how our Church leadership is approaching future challenges to illustrate just such a disciplined approach of seeking God’s will. Come Sunday and let me explain.