"THE SUFFERING SERVANT BLEEDS AND FEEDS STRENGTH”
Saint Matthew 5. 20-26
6th Sunday after Trinity: 27 July Anno + Domini 2014
Fr Jay Watson SSP
In The + Name of Jesus
“The Lord is the Strength of His people!”
You are not your own strength. Your good works and commendable deeds are not your salvation. Your prayers and devotions are not your sanctification. Unless your righteousness exceeds, is better than, is superior to, the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not go heaven—you will not be saved.
Jesus restates the Torah, the Law of God: to be saved you must be perfect. To be righteous, i.e. to be “right with God,” you must obey all the Law, all the time, all the way.
The scribes and Pharisees were the “cream of the crop” of “religious Israel.” They read and “knew” what the scrolls said. They didn’t just read, they studied, memorized, recited, and made commentary upon Scripture. They “knew” the Hebrew texts, insofar as they sinfully interpreted God as rules, regulations, lists, and responsibilities. But they were only surface skimmers with an ocean of superficial knowledge a few inches deep. They had lost faith. They had lost the truth of blood sacrifice, of sin—their true “old Adam” sin. They were all hypocrites and most of them were not even believers in The suffering servant Messiah that the Holy Prophets (e.g. Esaias) had foretold.
So, for your status with the Lord being right and acceptable (“righteousness”) and surpassing scribes and Pharisees it will do you no good to study Scripture “better,” or to know the teachings and doctrines of the Creeds and the Confessions more thoroughly. Jesus tells you, you modern day “wannabe scribes” and contemporary Pharisees, that YOU trespass daily and that you DON’T obey the Commands of God to the letter! Later in Christ’s “sermon on the mount” He says “be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” [Mt 5. 48]. With the Law, the 10 Commandments, it’s all or nothing; it’s obey or die, be holy or be damned: “whosoever shall keep the whole Law and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” [Ja. 2.10]
Jesus says in verse 28 “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” [v.28] When you break the 6th Commandment you break the other 9 as well!
If you are angry with your brother without a cause you are in danger of the judgment; the judgment of hell for “whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer; and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” [1 Jn. 3.15]
Do you always go and try to reconcile with your brother who “hath ought against thee” before you come to Church, or before you fall asleep, or before you simply “block it out” in self-righteousness? Repent! Hell will be filled with the self righteous for only “The Lord is the Strength of His people!”
Your failure to obey and your weakness to sin and to damn yourself find its only solution in Christ Jesus. When you refuse to set your “gift” down, to let go your golden calves, mammon Baals, and bloated egos, before worshipping yourself and your own deluded image of a “safe” Jesus…the radical, authentic, and real God/Man Jesus comes to do what only He can do: Redeem, Save, and Strengthen you IN HIM!
“The Lord is the strength of His people.” He was the strength of Adam when exiled from paradise. He was the strength of Noah and the church of 8 aboard the ark. He was the strength of Abram in all his fears, dislocations, and struggles. He was the strength of Moses and the Children of Israel during their Exodus in the desert. He was the strength of Jeremias and the deportees to Babylon as well as Nehemiah and the returnees from Babylon. He was the strength of the “12” during their ministries and martyrdoms. He was the strength of the Apostle plagued and buffeted by a “thorn in the flesh” a “messenger of Satan.” That great disciple was assured, and so are you: “My Grace is sufficient for thee; for My Strength is made perfect in weakness.” [2 Cor. 12. 9a]
It is there, HERE, that you have your righteousness which exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. Their non-belief and rejection was manifested in their self-righteous rejection and idolatry of the “rules of religion.” Your righteousness is HE WHO IS THE RIGHTEOUS ONE. Jesus is Godly “right” with the Father in all His words; His obedience in Law-Keeping; His atoning suffering and death for your anger and adultery; His Body given; His Blood shed; His Words spoken in Peace to give Peace!
Jesus’ Strength is not His omnipotence but His love. His miracle is not walking on water or healing lepers but in His Incarnation from the Virgin and in His substitutionary life and death as the Lamb of God for all of you. His Strength is made perfect in His own weakness (perceived weakness) His “state of humiliation.” It is never a “Game of Thrones” but a “crown of thorns!”
You hate your enemies. You refuse to forgive and reconcile with your antagonists. Repent! Jesus loved your adversaries and all enemies of His Father—of The Trinity—He loved you when you were an enemy and even dead. He raises you to life and eternity by burying you + with Him in His own death. His love was at the Cross and His Strength was in His crucifix for it was there His Body and Blood won you. His Grace flows this love and forgiveness to you now at His altar and pulpit and in His Holy Chalice and Ciborium where that self-same Body and Blood is given and shed for you to eat and drink—and believe!
He brought the only and real “gift to the altar” when He let Himself be led to the High Altar of Calvary. He reconciled all of you to The Father in His enthronement on the wood. The gift was God’s own Son. You are free from prison, from eternal death and hell because Jesus paid the “uttermost farthing” when He hung His sacred head and gave up the Ghost.
Receive that Ghost, that Spirit of Sonship and royal-priesthood once again. Come and be placed into your dwelling place—the Tabernacle of His side; His holy Church. Come ye righteous and eat and drink the God/Man, the Righteous One.
In The Name of The Father and of + The Son and of The Holy Ghost