October 31, 2023

MESSAGE – Twenty-Second Sunday After Pentecost – Year A – 29 October 2023

MESSAGE – Twenty-Second Sunday After Pentecost – Year A – 29 October 2023

How has your walk with God changed you?
Different seasons, changes in our lives lead us to mature in Christ – not only grow older, but grow into Christ.

Deuteronomy 34:1-12
Moses’ story ends with God showing him the Promised Land even though Moses would “not cross over there.”
Of course, there is profound grief over Moses’ death, but even as there is much more to come in the story of the People of Israel, Moses’ story is complete and fulfilled.
This is a powerful culminating moment.
Moses is far from the man who knew nothing of his people or their God, the man whom this as-of-yet-unknown-to-him God sent to confront the most powerful empire in the world.
Moses is far from the still fledgling leader facing the seemingly impossible task of leading God’s people out of oppression, through desert and desolation, and into promise.
There have been many stumbles on the way, but Moses is a very different, more spiritually mature, and whole man than he was. Moses’ death narrative marks for us the unbelievable spiritual growth that comes from walking with God.
How has your walk with God changed you? How has your spiritual journey moved you from oppression through desolation and into promise?

Moses could look back on a life in which God had allowed him to be used in remarkable ways. How has God used you to minister to others? Will you be able to look back at the end of your life and see “the whole land” of your faithful service?

MATTHEW 22.34-36
Do we have a lawyer in the house?
In the Jewish tradition how many commandments are there? 613
Well once again Jesus is being tested and trialled.
Jesus – but I am one of you.
With Jesus having finally silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees take up the quest to try to trip Jesus up on some doctrinal matter. They enlist a lawyer, someone who knows well the Jewish tradition that there are 613 commandments, and he asks Jesus to choose. I
f nothing else, which of these 613 commandments should we keep no matter what? Jesus, of course, can’t just give one.
He gives two (a 2-for-1-deal) – love God and love your neighbour as yourself – or maybe Jesus gives three – love God, love yourself, and love your neighbour.

But perhaps Jesus does respond with just one commandment.
Jesus responds to these leaders learned in the Torah in words taken from the central Jewish prayer, the Shema.
Perhaps he is trying to explain to them the meaning of these words and, in so doing, that the premise of their question is flawed.
There are not 613 commandments. There are not two or three. There is only one: Love.
That is the foundation of all the other commandments and every word that the prophets have uttered.
We are to love God and cannot do so without loving ourselves and our neighbours.
Nor can we do so without following the other commandments and heeding the prophets’ call for justice for the oppressed and marginalized. We have but one commandment: Love.

How does your own sense of what God commands us to do measure up against the commandment to love?

22:41–45 The Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees had asked their questions. Then Jesus turned the tables and asked them a penetrating question—who they thought the Messiah was. The Pharisees knew that the Messiah would be a descendant of David, but they did not understand that he would be God himself. Jesus quoted from Psalm 110:1 to show that the Messiah would be greater than David. (Hebrews 1:13 uses the same text as proof of Christ’s deity.)

The most important question we will ever answer is what we believe about Christ. Matthew 22:41

Vs. 41-46. When Christ baffled his enemies, he asked what thoughts they had of the promised Messiah? How he could be the Son of David and yet his Lord? He quotes Psalms 110:1. If the Christ was to be a mere man, who would not exist till many ages after David’s death, how could his forefather call him Lord? The Pharisees could not answer it. Nor can any solve the difficulty except he allows the Messiah to be the Son of God, and David’s Lord equally with the Father. He took upon him human nature, and so became God manifested in the flesh; in this sense he is the Son of man and the Son of David.

“What think we of Christ?” Is he altogether glorious in our eyes, and precious to our hearts? May Christ be our joy, our confidence, our all. May we daily be made more like to him, and more devoted to his service. Matthew 22:41

This is our profound calling that is emphasised in Matthew 22:34-46 – the call to love. In this passage, Jesus teaches that loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and loving our neighbours as ourselves, is at the core of our faith. When we do this, we fulfill the law and the prophets, living in the light of God’s love and fulfilling His purpose for our lives. Lord, help us open our hearts to the commandments to love, even when loving is difficult. Give us the courage to be people who will commit their whole lives in your service. For we ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.