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October 11, 2020
St. Matthew 22:34-46
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
From the beginning, already in the garden when confronted with fig leaf excuses, God was reconciling the world to Himself. He does not and did not count trespasses, even the trespass that plunged the world into chaos and brought death to us all, against those who believe His Word and wait on His promises. Adam believed and it was reckoned unto him as righteousness. God made Adam and Eve to be His children again even as He promised to be and remain their God. He is Himself the Enmity that blocks the serpent’s strike with His heel, absorbing all the poison and dying Adam’s death to crush the devil’s head.
This God, who walked in the garden, is David’s Lord. Jesus says that is who He is. He is not merely the son of David, seed of Eve, He is also David’s Lord, God of God and Light of Light. He is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. He is and always has been the Mediator between God and men. He walked in the garden, presumably on legs with feet, even before He had skin and sweat and muscle.
We do not meet God apart from the Man born of Mary. In Him, the whole fullness of God dwells bodily. There is no other god and no other name under heaven by which men might be saved. We meet Him in His Word and in His risen Body hidden under bread and even in our neighbor. We are not meeting a mere man, we are meeting David’s Lord, our creator and savior.
This mystery that God has become Man and has humbled Himself as a Man to bear our burdens, to take our punishment, and to be killed while never ceasing to be God Almighty is the central reality of our Theology. The mystery of the Incarnation is inseparable from all other topics of theology or from any possible theological question. All Theology is Christology because there is no God but Christ. The Lord our God is One. His Name is Jesus for He saves His people. There is nothing wrong with the Pharisee’s question about the Law. Jesus answers it. But of itself, it is incomplete. The summary of the Law without Christ is misleading to the fallen hearts of men. Jesus then directs them from that foundation to the fulfillment of the Law by asking them to think about how it is that David’s Son is also David’s Lord.
This is a difficult topic for reason, but it is the substance of faith. The Pharisees were not silenced by the question or the answer. They were silenced by their pride. They refused to receive the Gospel and praise God’s Name. The reality of David’s Son being David’s Lord looses the tongues of men to sing and confess.
We can conceive of a time before the Incarnation when David’s Lord was not a Man, when He did not have a body, but now He does. We embrace and rejoice that He is always and forevermore a Man, without end. He didn’t just seem to be a man or was only a man for a while and then He was done with it. He is a Man forever, without end, even as His Divinity is both without beginning and without end.
Now that our God is a Man, for us, everything we know about God and ourselves in Him can only be known through this single reality and gift: Christ is our God. He walked on the earth seeking Adam to restore him to Himself. He walked again upon the earth in the Flesh inherited from Mary as a Man and let us put Him to death. He then revived that same Body and walked out of the tomb and ascended, in that Body, to His Father’s right hand. And in that same Body He gives Himself to us and joins us to Himself in the Holy Communion.
The problem with the Pharisee’s question about the Law is not so much that he failed to properly distinguish between Law and Gospel. Even if he did, Jesus didn’t. Jesus answered the question. He answered it rightly. The entirety of the Law and the Prophets hang upon the dual command: love God and love neighbor. The problem is that the Law is of no theological use if it is contemplated apart from the One who hung upon the cross for the violations of it and thereby brought it to perfection.
Jesus would teach this pharisee to be a Christian. “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is he?” These questions lead to the heart of our faith. Christ is David’s Son, yet He is also David’s Lord. He is a physical, biological descendent of David, no different from us except that He commits no sin, and yet He pre-exists David and created David. He is God and He is Man, a single personality and will, a single Christ.
Thus does the Father say to the Son: “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.” Having addressed the doctrine of the Incarnation with the phrase “the Lord said to my Lord,” David goes on to the Christ’s enthronement and triumph. In this one line of the psalm, he confesses the profound realities that are the basis of our whole relationship to God. The eternal identity of Jesus Christ is that He, true God and true Man, is a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. He triumphs over sin and death and our enemies for us because He is one of us and is on our side. Our enemies are placed under His feet. Finally, He is glorified at His Father’s right hand opening heaven to us.
Thus Hebrews 1:
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Thus does Jesus teach us how to read the Old Testament and be Theologians. May He, in His mercy, make us such and bring us to the brightness of His glory.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.