Tag Archives: Matthew 22

October 26, 2014 (Year A Proper 25) Celtic Meditation

Matthew 22:34-46

In this passage, we come to the end of the discussion between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders about the source of Jesus’ authority. This conversation began after Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and his followers proclaiming him as the son of David. This, coupled with his prophetic teaching and actions, put him at odds with the religious authorities. When the religious authorities asked for a direct answer on this issue of authority, Jesus had answered by asking about the authority behind John’s baptism. When the religious leaders refused to answer Jesus, he told three parables. The Jewish religious and political leaders replied with three questions to test Jesus’ authority. We heard the first question last week. This is the third question in the sequence.

In Jesus’ answer, we hear the central ethos of both Judaism and Christianity: love of God and love of neighbor are non-negotiable.[1] In what ways can we, as church, more fully love God?

Just as Jesus had refused to separate the sacred and secular in the question that we heard last week, he now refuses to separate religion from ethics: according to Jesus, how we treat our neighbor is a reflection of our love for God. As church, what do we do for and with our neighbors that allows them and others to see our love for God?

Jesus ends the verbal sparring match over the question of his authority in the same way he answered the original question. He asked a question that his opponents either would not or could not answer. The Pharisees knew that Jesus had been proclaimed as the son of David; when they answered that the messiah is a son of David, this event must have come to mind. David was the exemplar king of Israel: their greatest king. Yet David had said that the messiah was his superior.[2] What do we need to do differently, or better, in order to express our understanding that Jesus, the messiah, has more authority than any other authoritative person we can think of?

———————————————-

[1]Based upon the use of the homoion in Jesus’ parables about the kingdom of God in Matthew, Eung Chun Park argues that Jesus has irrevocably related the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:5) and Leviticus 19:18, so that it is not possible to truly love God if one does not also love one’s neighbors. (Eung Chun Park, “A Soteriological Reading of the Great Commandment Pericope in Matthew 22:34-40,” Biblical Research, 54 (2009): 61-78).

[2]Divine sonship outranks Davidic sonship (see Jack Dean Kingsbury “Title ‘Son of David’ in Matthew’s Gospel,” Journal of Biblical Literature, 95/4 D (1976): 591-602).

October 12, 2014 (Year A Proper 23) Celtic Meditation

This is the third parable that Jesus gave in answer to the Jewish religious leaders’ question about the source of his authority.  We heard about three sets of guests in this parable.[1]

The first set of guests had the invitation in hand yet chooses to not go to the feast.  They refused to go to this important state event, exposing their loyalties, which was not to the king.[2] Some even respond to the reminder to come to the feast by violence.  The king responds to their violence with judgment.  In what ways do we, as church, put our own agenda before the mission God has given us?

The second set of guests includes those who are called, regardless of whether they are good or bad, and they go to the banquet.  They, unexpectedly, get to go to the big event of the kingdom, the Son of the King’s wedding feast.[3]   What practices do we, as church, need to do, or do differently, in order to respond more fully to the great mercy that God has offered to us through Jesus?

The last person mentioned in this parable is frightening to think about.  Both the good and the bad were brought into the wedding hall.  But because this man did not have on the proper wedding clothes, he was cast out of the feast into a place worse than where he came from.  To wear wedding clothes is to participate in the joy of the wedding; street clothes just won’t do.[4] The others invited at the last hour demonstrated their acceptance of the authority of the king and his son’s by how they dressed.[5]   God has set the table and invited us, good and bad, to feast with him in honor of his Son.  What does it look like for us, as church, to recognize Jesus’ authority and more fully enter into our place as God’s guests at the feast?

———————————-

[1] This parable continues in the three-fold pattern of an invitation from a person in authority with the need for those who are invited to respond in obedience, a refusal of the invitation or lack of obedience to the responsibility, resulting in either judgment or mercy, depending upon the response of those who receive the invitation (J. Lyle Story, “All is Now Ready: An Exegesis of ‘The Great Banquet’ (Luke 14:15-24) and ‘The Marriage Feast’ (Matthew 22:1-14,” American Theological Inquiry 2/2 (2009): 67-79.)

[2] Richard Bauckham, “The Parable of the Royal Wedding Feast (Matthew 22:1-14) and the Parable of the Lame and the Blind Man (Apocryphon of Ezekiel),” Journal of Biblical Literature 15/3 (1996): 471-488.

[3] “The king’s son’s wedding cannot be canceled. Nor can it go ahead without guests. On this occasion, as on no other, it is essential that the banqueting hall be full.” Bauckham, 485.

[4] Bauckham, 485. The issue in the parable is not clothing, but disposition.

[5] Bauckham, 486.