Peterborough UMC – Weekly suggested Bible Study and Sermon Notes for October 25, 2020
Matthew 22.34-46: Reformation Sunday “Love is a Foreign Language”
The Greatest Commandment
Matthew 22:34 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 commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “‘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 greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” 41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: 42 “What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” 43 He said to them, “How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying, 44 ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet” ‘? 45 If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?” 46 No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.
Theme of the Text: From the time that Jesus entered triumphantly into Jerusalem, the religious leaders have opposed his teachings. They ask him which the greatest commandment is, and he not only proclaims what that is—he goes one step further asking them, “Whose son is the Messiah?”
The Problem in the Text: The Religious authorities say it is the son of David—but Jesus points out that that would not agree with Psalm 110.1. They leave deciding never to ask him another question.
Theme of how this Text concerns us in 2020: These Great Commandments as well as the belief that Jesus is God’s son is still being challenged today.
The Problem in our context 2020: We are not always confident how this effects our lives.
First, Jesus is responding to his opponents without equivocation:
• The Greatest Commandment has two inseparable parts that call them to
o love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
o And to love your neighbor as yourself.
• This kind of love is not to be manipulated, conditional nor limited.
Second, Jesus asks about something that would be remarkably familiar to them namely,
• “What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?”
• They respond saying the Messiah is “The son of David”.
• Jesus counters with the following:
o How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet’”? If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?
o Jesus uses Psalm 110.1 which is the most often quoted verse (37 times) in the New Testament from the Hebrew Scriptures to make his point.
Not only has Jesus stumped the authorities and rendered them speechless he has redefined what a messiah (one who saves) is and is not.
• First, he explains that the messiah David references is not generic.
• Second, if David calls the Messiah Lord, the Messiah is not limited to the character of an earthly King from David’s dynasty.
• Finally, this understanding will require a new language in which victory is not through human military prowess but Divine love.
Prayer: Dear God,
We learn best about your nature through the life and teachings of your Son, Jesus Christ.
When Jesus tells us to love our neighbors, we quibble and ask who our neighbor is?
Our understanding of love is weak.
Our language is limited.
Help us to accept that we were created to worship, love and serve you.
You created us with the ability to love deeply.
We are made in your image and nourished by your most Holy Spirit.
Help us to surrender to your ways and to love as you already love us. Amen