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Readings

Reading: Matthew 22:41-46,

Supplementary Reading: Psalm 110

Devotional

Talking to the same group of listeners and Pharisees as we read yesterday, including the law expert who was ‘not far from the kingdom’, Jesus now poses the most important question ever asked. In his previous dialogue, he had placed the whole of the law on one word, love. Now he was putting this love into action by directing his listeners to faith in himself asking ‘What is your opinion of the Christ?’

In talking about the Pharisees, we tend to categorise them as one homogenous group. The Pharisees hated Jesus, were instrumental in the murder of Jesus so, all Pharisees are evil. It is true that Jesus reserved some of his harshest words for the religious leaders, which we will discover on our journey through the passion week as Matthew recorded it in the very next chapter. It is also true that many, probably the majority, rejected Jesus and his teaching and ‘hardened their hearts’ towards Jesus. However, this did not stop Jesus from treating each and every person as an individual and calling them personally to repent from their hypocrisy, turn around, and start a new life following Him.

We discover many of the religious leaders did in fact start to follow Jesus. The Apostle Paul who in his own words was a ‘Pharisee of the Pharisees’ became the champion of Jesus’ cause and the driving force behind the love of God being introduced to the Gentiles. Even in the passion week, when the hatred of the religious leaders was at its peak, we find some of their number becoming Disciples and following Jesus. Jesus’ friend John records that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, both religious leaders in their time, were the disciples which took the body of Jesus from the cross.

‘After all this, Joseph of Arimathea (he was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, because he was intimidated by the Jews) petitioned Pilate to take the body of Jesus. Pilate gave permission. So Joseph came and took the body. Nicodemus, who had first come to Jesus at night, came now in broad daylight carrying a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. They took Jesus’ body and, following the Jewish burial custom, wrapped it in linen with the spices. There was a garden near the place he was crucified, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been placed. – John 19:38-40

We must never write off anyone for the kingdom irrespective of their current behaviour, beliefs or allegiances. In answer to Jesus’ question, ‘whose son was the Christ, the Messiah?’ The Pharisees were clear He was the son of David. Replying, Jesus points them to their own scriptures and ascribes Psalm 110 to King David.

‘The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.- Psalm 110:1

It is as if Jesus were saying to the Pharisees, you have criticised me for accepting praise from the people who called me ‘the Son of David. But I am the son of David in the most glorious sense. Why? Because David himself called me ‘my Lord.’ Rejecting me is rejecting David’s Lord, accepting me is accepting David’s Lord. The dividing question of history has been and always will be ‘What is your opinion about the Christ?’

It is comforting to know that Jesus a few short days before his bitter agony and gruesome death was fully aware that the journey to the cross would be for the joy of a crown. He knew already that he was ‘the stone that the builders rejected’ but was to ‘become the chief cornerstone’ (Mat 21:42) and that through the cross God the father would ‘put your enemies under your feet’.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me and always seeing me. I’m so grateful I am not invisible to You. Even when I was not looking for You, did not believe in You and was hostile to You, You saw me and spoke to me. Your voice working in my life helped me to see love that I never thought possible. Help me never to say no to people on your behalf because of their behaviour, beliefs or loyalties, but to share with them my story of life change through Your Son.

Based on today's reading, what is one thing God is saying to you?

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