Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity

Readings: Deuteronomy 10:12-21 | 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 | Matthew 22:34-46

Text: Matthew 22:34-46

Theme: Knowing the Lord our God, Jesus Christ, is a gift which He gives, not the fruit of our efforts to know Him.

I. I remember trying to explain the Trinity to my friend, who was a young Christian. It wasn’t an easy thing to explain, because it defies our reason and any earthly analogies. More recently, I’ve been confounded by trying to debunk Dispensationalism, because it’s supposedly backed up by biblical passages., and it can deceive even someone who is knowledgeable in the Bible.

Sometimes I share in the frustration of someone who is trying to explain the mysteries of the faith or confess the truth to someone who is being led astray by error. I want there to be a “simple” or understandable answer.

II. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience. Awkward conversations like, Why doesn’t your church let women be pastors? Someone saying, Oh, you go to that church that didn’t give my husband communion. Someone of you have tried to explain to you children or grandchildren why it matters that they don’t live together before marriage. It’s painful when you can’t seem to get through, especially when it comes to fellow Christians.

III. In the Gospel today, Jesus is on common ground with his opponents insofar as they accept Scripture to be God’s Word. They well-acquainted with the Law. They think they are clever enough to test Him. So far, so good, it seems.

Yet their supposed fellowship is strained. What do you think of the Christ? They have the right answer to this, but they cannot explain King David’s own inspired words in Psalm 110:1.  The mystery of the Trinity is hidden from them. Although they have a scholarly and religious knowledge of the Scriptures, they are unable to know the Christ on whom the Law and Prophets hang.

They’ve applied themselves so much to the holy Word of God, but it’s not by this that they know God or His Christ. You become a better musician through practice. Your long resume testifies to your experience in your field. But without the Holy Spirit, no one can confess Jesus as Lord. I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says, ‘Jesus is accursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.” (1 Cor. 12:3)

The Pharisees set out to trap him by their cleverness, but they were silenced by their inability to know the Lord’s Christ. In contrast to this, Mark’s Gospel notes that “the crowds heard Him gladly” (Mark 12:37)—those who didn’t have the education and credentials to boast of. God granted to the unlearned the coveted wisdom from above, so that they could rejoice in His Christ as Savior.

IV. This teaches us how each of us needs to approach the Holy Scriptures. When we sit down to read the Bible or hear it gathered together, we are not studying for a midterm (as the medical college students do, memorizing and quizzing each other on vocab). Rather, we humbly begin with prayer for the Holy Spirit:

a. That He would grant us faith and understanding.

b. That He would teach us the lessons we need for right now in our walk (against the Internet “wealth of knowledge” attitude).

c. That He would daily renew us to love our God with all our heart, strength, and mind.

d. That He would fill us with love for our neighbor and the words to speak truth to them.

e. That He would grant to us all the measure of His grace to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

V. For us together as the Jesus’ Church, this delivers us from the allure of the church growth gurus, who tell us the reason our churches are not full is because we haven’t found the right way to “advertise” Jesus and make Him appealing to people today. In contrast to that, God teaches us through Moses:

12 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good? 14 Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. (Deut. 10:12-14, Old Testament lesson)
  • Do not lose sight of who the Lord our God is. He who is with us is more than our bodily ability, lest we should think it will fail because of our age, or our numbers, or our skill at explaining profound mysteries.
  • It’s not just an idea or a tradition that we bring to the world. We bear the living God and His Son, Jesus Christ, who declares, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20)