The reading for today is Matthew 22:34-46
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”
“The son of David,” they replied.
43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,
44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
under your feet.”’
45 If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” 46 No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.
Today’s reading comes to us from the days leading up to Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. He is teaching in the temple at Jerusalem, there are crowds listening to his parables, and the religious leaders—Sadducees and Pharisees—are asking him questions. Finally, Jesus takes his turn to ask a question: “What about the Messiah, the Christ, whose son is he? The son of David?” Not quite, is the response Jesus gives. David wouldn’t call his own son Lord. This Messiah is something more.
Jesus is a wise man and a great teacher, but he is more than that. He is not just a “son of David,” a descendant of the great king of God’s people. Jesus is Lord over David and all of creation. Jesus’ question and his use of quoting a psalm to answer it is Jesus’ way to telling the people that their messiah will be more than a faithful political and military leader, more than a new king of Israel that will make things right for God’s people. The Messiah is God.
We strive to follow Jesus’ commandments and actions. Love God and love neighbor. But ultimately that will get us nowhere if we do not also recognize that we need Jesus as more than a teacher; we need his salvation. We are in need of a messiah to save us from our bondage to sin. Following commandments and rules, as good as we might be at them, is not enough.
Election season is upon us. Depending on our political affiliations we see one party or another as the best way for our nation to follow the commandments to love God and love neighbor. One side or the other can save or preserve our nation. Jesus’ words today about the messiah are a reminder that the salvation we need is not something that can come from faithful human leadership. It is something that can only come from God.
Saving God, help us to be humble and recognize our helplessness. Though it is good for us to follow the greatest commandment, we cannot do it on our own. We cannot save ourselves, and we cannot find salvation in human leaders, so we turn to you. Amen.
Ella Moehlman firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayer Concern: For the world to come to know and love God.