“ON CHRIST HANGS THE SINS OF THE TWO TABLES”
Saint Matthew 22. 34-46
18th Sunday after Trinity: 19 October Anno + Domini 2014
Fr Jay Watson SSP
In The + Name of Jesus
Jesus had silenced the empty ritualistic Sadducees. He needs to daily silence the pompous obsessive/compulsive sinner in you as well. Rubrics in church or in your private life—how you “do things the way you do them” have value and worth to God ONLY if they serve His Gospel—His beloved Son and His mission.
Jesus was about to silence the Pharisees and the Scribes…one particular scribe (Lawyer) who was an expert in Torah—the Law.
He needs to daily silence the hypocrite in you as well. The Law was NEVER meant to make you feel good about yourself (not even over against the other guy that you think isn’t keeping it as good as you). The 10 Commandments, or the Law as reduced and summarized as Christ does to two great commands—One for each tablet, are meant to do one thing—KILL you!
The two parts to Saint Matthews Gospel (vv. 34-40 & vv. 41-46) fit together, subsist one in the other in perfect union as Christs two natures of Divine and Human subsist perfectly in the personal union in One Christ Jesus—the God/Man!
The first section is the “What” and the second part is the “Who.”
These two components are the two hands that lift you out of hell. They are Jesus’ pierced and scarred hands—the hands of Whom….? Well, that’s the second part of our pericope.
Who was it that stood in front of the group of Pharisees that day? Who do you worship and call your Savior? Who is it that you confess in the Creed and that you confess when you come forward to the Altar to receive The Sacrament? And what do you receive when you receive The Sacrament?
Putting the best construction on the Pharisees…even the serious minded ones who were looking for Messias (Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea)…they still completely misidentified Jesus. They thought the Nazarene at best was a smart, clever and facile teacher Who was popular because of His zeal and healing skills. The Galilean at worst was a troublesome con-man stirring up anti-Roman and anti-Sanhedrin opinion. And, maybe He was actually an evil sorcerer in league with the devil. Whatever this rabbi was He certainly was no Moses. Ah, there’s the rub! Moses was not God. Moses doesn’t save or bring life. The Law saves no one. If Jesus was only a super-sized version of Moses; a better resurrecting prophet than Elias; a stronger warrior than Samson and a greater King than David and Solomon, then we are all dead in our trespasses waiting pain, death, rotting, and hellfire for eternity. “Who do men say that I Am” He once asked the “12.” Peter answered correctly “the Christ the Son of the Living God.” But to unpack Peter’s Christological confession for hard hearted Pharisees and even harder hearted Americans, pagans, heretics, Jews, Unitarians, and Muslims…Jesus IS GOD. Jesus is Who you confessed Him to be in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed a few minutes ago. Jesus is Who He says He is “‘The Son of David’…David in spirit call[ed] Him Lord, saying ‘The LORD said unto my Lord, sit Thou on My right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.’” This is pure Trinity talk—period. Failing to see this and to confess this puts one outside of The Faith and outside of Christ Jesus. As The Son of God IS GOD and sits on the right hand of The Father; so too He speaks, writes, and is given through the Holy Ghost who first “spake by the prophets” (including King David) and speaks by His Word and Sacraments to His New Testament Church.
The “Who” of God takes care of the “what.” To rescue sinners from the prison house of Satan means the Law must be obeyed…perfectly, and that the penalty for you NOT obeying the Law must be paid. There must be first an active obedience of keeping the Two Great Commands and then a blood sacrifice—a dead innocent Lamb in your place!
If God as God…omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, was to keep Adam’s burden, your responsibilities…so what? Of course God as God can obey His own will. If that were the case the cross becomes an empty ornamental rabbit’s foot. And, if you try and nail God as God up on the wood—God as God can’t suffer and die. No, Jesus has to be both God and Man. He is God; a Person of the Triune Godhead as David, the Holy Spirit, testifies in Hebrew Scripture and as Christ speaks to the Pharisees. He is Man, born of the Virgin, as was seen in His 33 year visible ministry. He was a baby; He grew; He needed to suck milk from His mother and be protected by Saint Joseph; He became tired, hungry, cold, and wet; and He wept when His friends died and felt hurt when His flock rejected Him. He had the flesh and blood from His mother which is the same flesh and blood you, and all Adam’s offspring have…have ever had. Jesus is the Perfect Man and Perfect God; the Second Adam and the Son of David—Son of The Father.
Repent of not knowing Who your God is at all times. Repent of treating Him as only an ethereal, distant, cosmic “big man in the sky” Who has no imminent presence in your life. Repent also of treating Him as only a buddy, pal, and accepting enabler, Who is more life-coach and drill sergeant than Creator. Your sanctified life IN HIM reflects by worship, laud, and honor God of God. Thus your actions and gestures and curbed tongue testify your hearts confession. Your sanctified life IN HIM also reflects belief in His words to you about His love and care for you, that He is true Man born of the Virgin Mary; with His tender shepherding of you by His actual and real presence. Repent of ever thinking He is sleeping, uncaring, or not with you every painful step of the way.
Repent of thinking you can chose which Laws to obey, when to obey them and how to split them into partial obedience relying presumptuously on guaranteed forgiveness as if it’s a license to sin with abandon. All Gods commands are one there is no dividing His will or Word. The God/Man, He Who is a Person of the Trinity, The One with two-natures compresses the Decalogue into the two great commands: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all they mind.” “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
These you must do if you wish to live. These you must obey if you wish to be saved by your obedience. These twin towers come crashing down upon you like a double punch of gravestones.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. On the two-natured One God/Man all of Gods will as preached by Moses and Elijah, the two that stood by Him on Mount Transfiguration, were hung on Mary’s Son and the Father’s only-begotten. Those two Laws, as giant iron spikes, were driven into Jesus’ precious Body to break your shackles and to tear the gates of hell off the tomb(s).
Where was God when you lost….?
Where was God when you cried and felt so empty you couldn’t go on…?
Where was God when you felt alone and lost on a friendless voyage…?
He was hanging, bleeding, and dying…each lung of the innocent lamb, crushed by those two tables…cleansing you and purifying you by His suffering and His blood, His perfect death. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Jesus is the Law fulfilled and the prophecies culminated. Jesus is the Prophet of the Godhead speaking the Trinity into you now and forever.
Jesus says to you now: “come up to the rail and sit thou on My right hand. Let me feed you My Body and Blood and make all your enemies your footstool.” At Calvary the Law of Moses and the Prophets hung deep into His Flesh. But this day He embraces you as His dear lambs close to that same Vivified and Eternal Flesh.
In The Name of The Father and of The + Son and of The Holy Ghost.