Homily preached at Winmalee
by Br Andrew on 26th October 2014
20th Sunday after Pentecost
Whose Son Is the Christ?
Gospel Matthew 22:34-46
Psalm 110 Jewish Orthodox Bible
Gideon was very young to have become a Lawyer but had done very well at his studies and he had recently graduated at the top of his class from the College in the Portico of Solomon, even though only seventeen years of age; Gideon was most eager to make his name.
Well, he thought, making Jesus look a fool might work in his favour, though to date no one else had succeeded. He had hardly had the chance to think of a curly question when a dig propelled him forward and one of the Pharisees hissed “ask him which is the great commandment in the Law?’ That is not fair, thought Gideon, there is no way that Jesus will manage to answer correctly by quoting just a single commandment because all the commandments have equal weight, we are to walk in obedience to all the Lord our God has commanded us..
Gideon had witnessed the Pharisees, and their ilk question Jesus relentlessly regarding the Law, the Jews thought him to be a mere man, and the carpenter's son. The Pharisees thought that he rejected the fixed moral Laws of their time, a libertine, a loose, and licentious person, that had no regard to the law, and good works: hence those words of his, "think not that I am come to destroy the law", Yea, they thought him to be a Samaritan, and be possessed, and to cast out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of devils.
Nevertheless, I went ahead, most respectfully, addressing Jesus as “Teacher” and asked the question.
Jesus replied by summarising the first 4 commandments those concerning the relationship between ourselves and God, all in one sentence! Then he said that the second was like it and summarised the remaining 6 commandments relating to the way we treat each other in another sentence. As an Attorney of the Torah I just have to admit that Jesus knows his Scripture because the sum of the Law and the prophets do depend upon the keeping of those two great commandments.
We were still gathered there, wondering what would happen next when Jesus asked the Pharisees a question: he asked them what they thought about the Christ, the anointed one and whose son he was.
Everyone, well almost everyone knows that the Christ will be the son of David and so Samuel, he that had shoved me forward said just that, the Christ will be the son of David. Then when Jesus quotes the scripture further I realise he quotes from the fifth book of the Psalms, Psalm 110 to be exact a Messianic Psalm, where King David wrote in the Spirit:
44“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
(NB Galatinus (q) says the true Targum of Jonathan has it, "the Lord said to his Word;'')
“Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’?
There was no Lord greater than David then, so where is the son that David would call his Lord? There was Solomon he had called his Song of Songs, only the Christ is worthy to be named David’s Lord and to sit on the right hand on high.
Now I am ashamed because I begin to fear that I have asked the author of the Law to explain it as though he were a nothing, a sinner– which is just what both Sadducees and Pharisees believe – someone to get rid of before the current corrupt system comes undone.
Here are the first three verses of this psalm, the way I learnt it and perhaps you might understand it more easily – it goes
1 A Psalm of David. HaShem saith unto my lord(Adoni) 'Sit thou at My right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.'
2 The rod of Thy strength HaShem will send out of Zion: 'Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
'As you can hear there is no mistake what so ever that God Hashem, the Name, is speaking to Adoni; David’s Lord (the Messiah) who is the son of David, the Christ.
Should Jesus imply that this Psalm applies to himself then perhaps I have seen the face of God and live!
Gideon leaves stunned
The debate was over. Jesus had won decisively (cf. 22:46). But, of course, this only hardened the opposition and brought the crisis to a head. The crucifixion was, in the minds of the religious leaders, to be their final response.
After that they durst not ask him anymore: - But the answer is given to us later in the New Testament by the apostle Paul. For Paul writes to the Romans that he has been called by God into the service of the Gospel to announce, the good news concerning God's Son, "who was descended from David according to the flesh and was acknowledged to be the Son of God in power . . . by his resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:3-4). Jesus himself is the son of David who was at the same time David's lord.
Many attested to this throughout Jesus’ Ministry, the Canaanite woman, the two blind men blind Bartimaeus, and the crowds in the temple, when he overthrew the tables, who sang Hosanna to the Son of David.
I have counted Psalm 110:1, no less than 17 times in 12 different books of the New Testament, it is a Psalm that refers 1000 years into the future from David’s time and continues until the return of the Messiah, unknown years from now. In one sense it encapsulates the scriptures themselves, for there are so many references to it, it is used as a proof and an explanation or as part of a sermon in so many places, such as when Peter quoted Psalm 110:1 in his sermon on Pentecost: “now that the Christ sits at the right hand of Power all other things will come to pass in God’s time.”
Some are overcome already by him, as sin, Satan, and the world; and the Jews, his enemies, who refused his Kingship, they have been destroyed: as yet all things are not beneath his feet, these will be; the antichrist, and the kings of the earth that are with him, they will be overcome by him; the beast and false prophet will be taken and cast into the lake of fire; where also the old serpent, the devil, after he has been bound and loosed, will be also be hurled; and when the final enemy, death, shall be destroyed; until that time comes, Christ reigns and will reign, and afterwards too, even to all eternity…
I have passed around the Orthodox Jewish Bible’s version of Psalm 110 for us to think on, and to consider that in our hands is the ability to reduce the numbers of those who will suffer the wrath of the Messiah – merely by the witness of our living.