18. Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Matthew 22:34-46Mt 22,34-46
But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they gathered together. Then one of them, which was a scribe, asked him a question, tempting him, saying, “Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law?” Jesus said unto him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all thy heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like unto it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, “What do you think of Christ? Whose son is he?” They said unto him, “The son of David.” He said unto them, “How then does David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit on my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool? If David then called him Lord, how is he his son?” And no man was able to answer him a word, neither tried any of them from that day on ask him any more questions.
1. Two points in today's Gospel text: a.) the scribes asking the Lord Christ which the most important commandment in the Law of Moses; b.) the Lord Christ asking the Pharisees what kind of a man Christ will be, particularly because King David calls him his Lord.
2. Their first question tells us that the Jews must have fallen into deep blindness because they have even completely forgotten about the Ten Commandments, which even the small children learn to recite by heart. Every little child should be able to answer the Lord's question.
3. The first and the greatest commandment forbids us to have other Gods. What kind of fools the Scribes and the Pharisees were! They discussed it if the first requirement is giving sacrifices, or giving alms, or fasting, or a particular dress code. What fools! They had fallen away from the Word of God and thought they could please Him by performing their own good deeds, and in their own philosophy, apart from the Word of God. That's how our monks and nuns did it: they entered a monastery, thinking they were being obedient, but were without orders from God, and swore to remain in chastisement and poverty. But they did that without the Word of God and therefore were lost. They forgot what faith and love is all about, and praised their ill-fated life in the monastery as a state of perfection before God.
4. Alas! Praise be to God: it's easier for a child, ten years of age, to tell you what perfect standing before God is than for all the monks and nuns together --they just concentrate on their monastic life. A true Christian though, speaks, “To be perfect before God means to fear God and to love Him, and to do good to your neighbor.” God never asked anyone anything else. However, the priests, monks, and nuns don't know this, otherwise they would give up their foolish plans and would plan to live according the Ten Commandments.
5. Where does such blindness and ignorance come from? It only comes from this one thing: they don't care for the Word of God, but insist in outward works which look great before others; examples for these are: keeping special holidays, particular dress codes, fasting from food or drink or from both, not eating what common people eat. That all looks so great and so pious before people! We see it in these Pharisees and the scribes who ask the Lord Christ what the greatest Commandment is. On top of that, they don't even agree at all among themselves which would be the greatest Commandment at all; one thinks this one is greater, the another one thinks another Commandment is greater!
6. This example is a splendid warning to us, and it illustrates how such mighty people were so blind that they didn't even know what was the most important, or the least important Commandment, even though they had been the teachers to whom the common people looked up, and from whom the people expected instruction regarding how to live before God. Our foolish nuns, monks, and priests are still the same. Just go ahead and ask one of them what you shall do in order to be blessed and they will instruct you that in order for one to become truly blessed he has to become a monk, read or hear mass, take a pilgrimage to the saints, and fast.
7. With that they lead you away from the Ten Commandments and from the land of milk and honey. That's what you get if you ask them, follow their advice, and do things the Lord God never asked us to do. If you do that, you will be blinded in such a way that you finally don't understand any of the Ten Commandments anymore. If they would still be able to understand the Ten Commandments they wouldn’t be so foolish to state that their rites are the most important duties what God has asked us to do. The Pharisees, scribes, priests, monks, and nuns are simply have forgotten about the Ten Commandments.
8. Let's all of be careful not to follow the teachings of these false apostles! With their doctrine of good works they blind the people so they follow them on the road to eternal destruction
9. These Catholic nuns, monks, and priests think they are something special because they get up to pray in the middle of the night, they fast, and dress differently than the average Christian; on Fridays they eat fish instead of meat, etc.
10. It's sound teaching by the Lord to state that the greatest command is meant to love God and the other is to love your neighbor like yourself. These two contain everything what one can preach and teach. All our preaching and doing should spring forth from this well and should flow back into it again. It is concluded for once and ever that if you want to serve God, you can do so only by loving Him and your neighbor.
11. On Judgment Day this teaching will be the crucial point. Everyone knows what the Catholics do. If a Catholic would think of serving God, he wouldn't think about keeping the Ten Commandments. No, he would become a monk, run to Rome, fast from food, drink, or sleep, and serve God by observing particular holidays. However, the word “serving” means to do what one is ordered to do. From that we conclude that serving God means doing what He wants you to do, and not what you think God what wants you to do. What does “serving God” mean according to our context? It means that if you want to serve God, you don't run to Rome or anywhere else; and you don't need to spend money in vain. Just love God and your neighbor. God says, “if you want to serve God, love your neighbor and do all the good to him you possibly can do. It almost sounds like a strange teaching, but if you want to serve God do good to your neighbor and God will be happy.
12. On Judgment Day this teaching will ring in many people's ears! The godless will ask Christ, “when have we seen you hungry, or thirsty?” Christ will answer them, “What you haven't done to least of those who belong to Me, you haven't done to Me.” Never forget: what you have done to a poor Christian by giving him a shirt, or a coat, yes, even if you only gave him a cup of water -- you have done it to God! There's no difference who's done it -peasant or pastor- or to whom -pastor, peasant, or count- you've done it. It's easy to say I love God, but actually doing such by loving your neighbor, or your poor fellow Christian is a little more complicated. Again: whatever good you do unto your neighbor you do to God!
13. It is from the devil that we so easily forget about this simple commandment of the Lord. We think that we know where to find Christ, and that we must simply go there and give to Him what He needs. It's wrong thinking so; entering the monastery doesn't make you a better Christian. Simply listen to what Christ says about the second commandment which is as important as the first one. He tells us very simply that loving your neighbor is the same as loving God.
14. “But”, you say, “our God is in heaven”. That's right! He's in heaven but He's also here on earth. Remember that when you see a Christian suffering; it's actually Christ suffering and needing your help. Christ let's us know in no uncertain terms that He on Judgment Day will accuse you if you let Him suffer lack of food or drink.
15. Isn't it a shame to have this great teaching but it gets treated like it would be a lie or a tale out of a story book. Such unbelief and disobedience is un-excusable -- no one will be able to say they didn't know about it. But here we read about it, the Lord Christ saying that one is just like the other. That's the reason for me saying that loving your neighbor is like loving God. On Judgment Day He will have to say to many: “If you would have served your neighbor you would have served Me. However, if it would have been for you, I would have starved to death.” Be careful that such judgment won't be pronounced on you because it will mean eternal damnation for you.
16. While we all were still under the Papacy, it was a common thing that old warriors, cavalry men, advocates, and other people thought of all the damning things they had done during their lives serving the world, felt guilty about it, and thought they needed to serve God from now on, therefore, they entered the monastery and became monks. However, whoever wants to serve God doesn't need to enter the monastery -- that's a devilish seduction. It is better for this person to live among the people, serving them however he can and be sure that God has commanded such. You won't serving God living as a monk because we don't find any command in the Bible where would ask Christians are asked to live as monks or nuns. Living as monk is contrary to the Word of God and the love of which the Lord preaches here.
17. The Jews here in our text were the same: they didn't care for their neighbors, even wronged them, and thought as long as they continued with butchering cows and calves and offering them as sacrifices, everything would be all right. However, what does the Lord say in Psalm 50:8-10? He says through David's pen, “I will not reprove you for your sacrifices or your burnt offerings, to have been continually before me. I will take no bullock out of your house, nor he goats out of your folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.” At another place in scripture He says that He doesn't need the gold of the temple and other things; what He wants from us is that we serve Him and we do this by caring for our neighbors. He calls us to look after our wife, children, sinners, neighbors, lords, masters, and all other kind of classes. If we do this, we have more than enough work to do; this way we can serve God. If your child is disobedient and cranky -- take the rod and with it heal him from being disobedient. If your servants won't take your orders -- punish them or fire them. If your neighbor is sick, poor, or downcast -- help him and comfort him; be obedient and helpful to your neighbor, your lord or prince -- then you did it unto me.
18. It's heart wrenching that we don't get this! Just imagine: we have our sins forgiven; the Lord won't account them to us anymore. One thing, though, He wants from us: that we serve our neighbor and do good to him. God will look at it as if we have done this unto Him and will reward us for it.
19. Who of you doesn't know what the world is like? The world doesn't care for God's promises, or the danger of Eternal Judgment. But you, learn from God's Word. However, the citizens, the farmers, the peasants -- they don't care, they hit God into His face, they are quarreling with God, and kicking Him with their feet. All one cares for is how to get rich quickly and add to his possessions. No one cares for their neighbor, who cares if he dies, or not? The ones who believe that the good you do to your neighbor is like doing it to God, must be frightened by all that goes on. However, there is no one who believes that -- just as the Lord says in Matthew 25. In speaking about the godless at Judgment Day ”Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungry, and you gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and you visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto You?” Then shall he answer them, saying, “Verily I say unto you, In as much as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”
20. That's the first lesson in today's Gospel text. May God give that we take it to heart, and that everyone would look at serving his neighbor as serving God. A farm hand in the stable, a servant girl in kitchen, a young lad at school -- they would all be servants of God if they do with diligence whatever they are asked to do by their father, mother, employer, etc. This way every house would be a church where church service is being held. However, no one wants to change and start serving his neighbor. Everyone only has his own advantage in mind. You see, as it is true that you serve God by serving your neighbor so it is also true that by only serving yourself, you serve the devil. The ones who only serve themselves will find themselves to have a bad end. How could it be that God approves it if you only serve yourself? It is so easy to serve God -- anyone could turn his house or room into a church of gold and fine jewels if he would care to, but he willfully doesn't do it, and rather serves the devil.
21. That's why we should all learn how to serve our neighbor, because if someone serves his neighbor, he serves God. Christ said this was so, when He stated that the second command equals the first one. Therfore, if someone doesn't want to turn his home into a church, and isn't interested in turning the earth into the kingdom of heaven, he will have to go to hell forever. Just imagine this: you could turn the earth into paradise if you would be willing to serve your neighbor, but by not doing so but rather serving yourselves instead, you serve the devil ,and with that you turn earth into hell for yourself. It doesn't matter if you are already aware of that or not. Don't forget though, there will come a time when you will wail and feel sorry for yourself and remember your great disobedience to God. That's why it's necessary for us to learn from Christ, and love and help our neighbor. God already gave us a mouth, eyes, hands, feet, money, property, our reason, and things to help our neighbor with, according to His command.
22. This doctrine of the love of God in regard to our life and our conduct is something concerning our life here on earth. The other doctrine which answers the question of whose son Jesus Christ is concerns our life hereafter. It doesn't open up heaven for us if we know how to love God and our neighbor. Knowing how to do that doesn't do it. The Pharisees of the Lord Christ's time already thought that if they know Moses and the Law, that was enough to get them into heaven. The Lord Christ shows that this is not enough to help us to gain eternal life. We must learn more: it is important for us to know who Christ Jesus is and whose Son He is. The Pharisees knew that the Christ is supposed to be David's Son. However, that's not enough. If Christ only were David's son, He would have needed to die like David, and would have only raised a earthly kingdom. Christ, though, has His own kingdom, and David, his father, calls Him Lord. How can it be then that at the same time Christ is David's Son and David's Lord?
23. That's a question the Pharisees couldn't answer nor any modern-day Jew. To answer this question has nothing to do with serving your neighbor, etc. We need to know the answer to the question whose son Christ is. Whoever knows the answer to that question won't miss the road to eternal life. To gain eternal life, it is not enough to know how to do good. We also need to do the good. Doing good is not an easy thing to do because our hearts are full of sin, and evil. Because of that lack it is important for us to know who Christ is! That's the reason why the Lord asks them the question of whose son Christ really is while He at the same time is the son of David. David didn't call Christ his son, but Lord --a Lord, who even sits at the right hand of God and who uses His enemies as a footstool for His feet. With this question He wants to wake up the Jews, and all of us, too, so that we learn to hold Christ up higher than only a son of David, and respect Him more than the Jews respected David.
24. Christ is also the Lord of David; that means He's not only David's son but also true God born of God, the Father before eternity. Remember: David is one of the greatest saints, and the most studied king, and still he calls Christ Lord. David seems to say, “Oh, my son is far above me. I'm a king and am called His father; however, He is my Lord. And such a kin He is, that He sits at the right of God, and is ordered by God to rule over all of His enemies. Who are His enemies? Since He's also man -- who do you figure His enemies are? That's easily to answer: these are death and the devil! The apostle Paul concludes the same in 1. Corinthians 15, 25 ff. Since death and the devil will lie trampled under the feet of David's Son, we conclude that His divine power and almightiness is in this son of David, otherwise, He couldn't be victorious over death and the devil just like any of us can't.
25. So you see: this way the Lord leads us onto the right track to eternity. The Law is a very good and useful doctrine. It teaches us how to live a pleasing life before God, how to serve Him, and how to escape sin. Such a teaching, though, only serves us in our temporal life here on earth. However, if someone wants to exchange the temporal life for the eternal life, the law and the doctrine don't help. The reason is that in our sins we can't enter life eternal -- we have to be free of sin in order to enter eternal life. Nevertheless, it's true that to keep to the Law means to sin less, but still we're sinners and can't enter heaven. We need more than the Law in order to be able to be free of our sins, because we just can't perfectly keep the Law. And so the Law only creates a bad conscience in us because we know we have to fear the judgment and the wrath of God because of our sins.
26. Against such thinking in your conscience, Christ wants to help you by asking the Pharisees who they think Christ, David's son is since David calls Him also his Lord. What does Christ do? He releinguished His godhead, as Paul says, became man and died at the cross of Calvary. Why did He do that? He did that so that He would be the lamb of God; that means the sacrifice which God had commanded for the sins of the world. After He died, He rose up from the grave on the third day and ascended to heaven, to joy eternal, sitting at the right hand of God.
27. That's what we must learn from Christ. Whoever truly understands that will find help; whoever doesn't understand will be lost and must perish in sin and death. The reason for this statement is that we are all sinners, and the Law doesn't take sin away, but accuses us before God and makes everything even worse. What a terrible fix we're in. In sin we were conceived and born. The longer we live the worse it gets. The burden of sin is not like another burden we can get rid off by just letting it fall to the ground; this burden sits in our bones and our skin, and doesn't let us experience peace. Everyone has to admit to this if he opens his eyes and is willing to peak into his own heart. So you see, to truly learn who Christ really is, is our only way for salvation. He is able to help you if you know deep down in your heart who Christ truly is, and you truly listen to Him. You know, we're all great sinners; we have sinned greatly against God. If you agree to this, look up to Him and know that God has sent Him to suffer for the sinners, and pay their debt to God. Why do you want to bother about a sin which a rich prince already has taken care of? It's up to you to trust in the dying and suffering of the Lord Christ.
28. We are all heading towards the grave; no one can save himself or get away from that, no matter how mighty, rich, wise, saintly, or powerful he may be. Where does death come from? It is the wages for our sin, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”, as Paul writes in Romans 6,23. Don't forget where we find forgiveness of our sin: nowhere else but in Christ Jesus. Christ died and rose again from the grave. That is a clear sign for us that Christ is also Lord over death. As you have the forgiveness of sin you can also have hope that you have eternal life, and that Christ will wake you up from among the dead and bless you for eternity.
29. This means that knowing Christ is the right way: to know that He is the son of David who sits now at the right of God, and that His enemies, which are sin, death, and Hades are a footstool for His feet. Whoever needs salvation from such foes won't find it in the Law or Moses, not in his own works, or piety. No, you need to go the son and Lord of David; go there, and there look for it -- there you'll find it. These blind Pharisees don't know this, and so they don't care for Christ. They're satisfied to know the Law. They think the Law teaches well enough how to love God and their neighbor. However, it's not possible to know God through that alone, or to love Him apart from Christ. In Matthew 11:27 Christ says, “No one knows the Father, but the Son, and to whom the Son reveals it.”
30. That's the reason why the Lord asks them this question at that exact instant. He seemed to say, “Sure, you know that you should love God, but surely you can't love God perfectly and with your whole heart, except you know who Christ is; because if you don't know Christ, how can you know how much grace and mercy God showed us?” It's true, it's not a small thing that God created us, gave us body and soul, and everything else. But all of these only serve us for a short time while we're here on earth.
31. Here we see the riches of the over-abounding goodness and grace of God who gives His one and only Son for us. For us He lets Him be put to death at the cross of Calvary so that we shall be freed from sin and experience life eternal. That is an eternal, unfathomable love and grace. No one is able to comprehend it except he who knows Christ. From that we conclude that only the ones who know Christ can truly love God.
32. We see in our text today that the Pharisees don't win anything by questioning Christ like that. Christ answers them that they are able to talk a lot about what the love God is, but they don't have the least bit of God's love in their heart because they don't know Christ.
They don't love God, who showered them with so much grace and goodness: how then can they love their neighbor, who needs their help, but isn’t able to return their help because of their own helplessness?
33. Let us all love and honor His teaching in today's Gospel text, and let's thank Him that He opened our eyes and that we are not as blind as before, under the Pope, and as the Jews in our text here. Because He has opened our eyes, we not only know how to get rid of the sin in our lives, but also, because He has opened our eyes, we have received the Holy Spirit who teaches us how to love God and our neighbor, according to His teaching. May our dear Lord Jesus Christ help us in that. Amen.