Unified to Unify

As we conclude our series on Matthew, we consider Jesus' command to take the kingdom principles espoused throughout Matthew's Gospel and share them with others. How do we fulfill this great commission? What does it look like to make disciples as Jesus asks? 

Matthew 24 - The Return of the King

Matthew 24:1-3

1As Jesus was leaving the Temple grounds, his disciples pointed out to him the various Temple buildings. 2But he responded, “Do you see all these buildings? I tell you the truth, they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!”

3Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?”

 

We Human beings have always been curious about how everything is going to end.

How will the movie end? How will the novel end? How will my life end? How will human history end?

Will it all end well or badly?

So we sometimes fast forward movies, or jump pages to get to the end.

But we can’t do that with our life, or with the whole of human history.

Every philosophy and religion offers a story about the end.

And we are so curious about it because we feel that if we know the end, then we can live our life well now. That somehow, knowing the end will give us a sense of clarity and urgency.

There was a novel about the end of times called Left Behind Series that was really popular in the 1990s. It’s popularity was grounded on the story of end times that most Evangelical American Christians believe, that there will be rapture, followed by tribulation, followed by the return of Christ.

The popularity of the series only goes to show our great fascination with the end times.

And every generation had self-proclaimed prophets prediction the return of Christ in a particular time. So far, all their prophecies have failed. How do I know? We are still here.

But it is a continuing fascination.

This is what the disciples are asking Jesus. So how is it all going to end? Is it now?

Today, we are going to talk about the end times. Not it detail, but I think that is where we go wrong, we get too detailed about the end times, parsing parables as if they were physical descriptions. It is like trying to understand who won the baseball game by looking only at the stats of one individual player. Stats of an individual players will not tell you who won the game. You need the whole thing, and you can get the real story behind a game without having to know the stats of your centerfielder.

So this is what we are going to do:

-Basic Jewish understanding of end times

-How to read passages about the end times

-How Jesus reinterprets the basic Jewish understanding of end times

-How we are to prepare for the end times

Basic Jewish understanding of end times

We speak of Jewish understanding of end times because Jesus and his disciples were Jews, so they though of end times within their narrative. And in that narrative, the city of Jerusalem, and specifically, the temple was paramount.

The basic story is that when the messiah comes, he will establish Jerusalem as an eternal city on the hill, a city that is unconquerable because in it will be the temple. The heavenly temple, the blueprint from which Moses got measurement of the first temple.

So there is the first temple, and there is the second temple, and there is this temple of Herod.

God will rule from the temple and the messiah will build that everlasting temple. Then history will have come to an end, for all warfare would cease, all conflict ended, lion and the lamb napping next to each other. And there will be shalom, because God’s glory will fill the whole earth from the temple in the city of Jerusalem.

This is the skeleton of the Jewish end time.

This is the basic plot of John’s revelation. Inone sense, John’s revelation is not new, just the reinterpretation of Jewish end times with Christ as the center and the alph and the omega.

So at the end, Jerusalem comes down, and measurement is given, not that the literal measurement is important but symbolic nature of the measurement, that this was the blueprint of Moses’ temple. And the temple comes down into the center of the city, except it is not a temple of bricks, or silver or even gold. The temple is actually Jesus himself.

So John brings his writing into a full circle, his gospel begins with Jesus is God’s tabernacle dwelling among us, and his book of revelation, Jesus is God’s temple finally established, just as there was the moving tabernacle with Moses’ wilderness and the temple built by David & Solomon.

This is why when the disciples marveled at the temple, it leads to a lesson on the end times.

So far, Jesus has been doing everything by the playbook as far as his entrance.

Entered like a king. He challenges the temple authority who are corrupt. Still, for country bumpkins the disciples are, the temple is massive and very impressive. You could see the temple miles away from Jerusalem.

So they are thinking that this is the end, everything is coming to a conclusion in few weeks, for they are with the messiah, and they are in Jerusalem and here is the temple, and the messiah has already begun reforming it

But what they hear surprises them. “Not one brick will remain standing.”

What they hear is that this temple which has been built by the hands of the false king Herod is going to be destroyed, and Jesus himself is going to build the true temple.

So naturally they ask him about the end times. Anytime you talk about the temple, you are talking about the end times.

When will you return?

At this point, I think Matthew has two audiences in mind. He is telling the story as he experienced it, but he knows that what Jesus told him was meant to be overheard, by those who would believe him. Matthew knows that as he is writing this gospel after Jesus ascended, people are asking, when will he return, and he remembers asking that same question.

Of course when the disciples asked, they thought returning mean, Jesus would go to Galilee and then return to challenge the temple.

But as he is writing the story, he realizes that the story was also meant for those who would hear his story and believe, for us.

There is always two time lines in all of gospel story, but especially in the end times. Matthew is telling the story as it happened, but like all stories, you always have the reader in mind, and the reader has another timeline.

So Jesu talks about the end of times that will be signaled by the destruction of the temple. And in 70 AD, this is exactly what happened. Romans came. There was others who claimed to be messiah.

(Revelations)

The zealots seized control over the temple. There were 3 charismatic zealot leaders, John, Simon & Ezra. They fought amongst themselves which gave the Roman Empire chance to lay a siege around Jerusalem. They did it just after Passover when many pilgrims where in the city. As a last attempt, the zealots actually destroyed their own food stock, hoping God would intervene by seeing their plight. But God did not. Romans entered the city, then made their way up to Jerusalem. And seeing how the Temple was the ground of their hope for the God’s rule, they tore it down.

This was the immediate history that Jesus is speaking to, the readers will be familiar with. This how the first Christians understood Jesus.

Now many take this teaching to extend to even us. So the end times still revolve around Jerusalem, literally. This is why it has always been such a place of conflict.

I do not think the physical location is all that important when it comes to the return of Christ. In fact, what is interesting in this teaching is that Jesus

Yes, there will be false prophets, yes there will be false rumors. False leaders will prey on the human desire to know how it will end, for them to be the conclusion of human history.

Now when Jesus answers, it is not any different than your typical Jewish end times, but one, but a very significant difference.

24:4-14

4Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, 5for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. 6And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. 7Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. 8But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

9“Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers.#24:9 Greek on account of my name. 10And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other.11And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. 12Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. 13But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations#24:14 Or all peoples. will hear it; and then the end will come.

 

 

All Nations

This wasn’t so Jews would crush all nations, but that God would include all nations. It would be a good news to all nations. This was a minor theme in the Old Testament. But Jesus shows that what everyone thought was minor was major. The verse starts with the judgment of all nations. But when it gets to the chorus, the verse has a different meaning because the chorus makes it clear, it is about the salvation of all nations.

This is so important. Because for many people the end times was always the time when finally my enemy is going to get it, when finally, I am going to be rewarded, and they will not be rewarded.

 

How To Be Ready for the Return of the King

Be Always Ready

No one knows the times, not even the Son

42“So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. 

All the divining of the end times, and how it supposed to looks like, and how many years. Whether there is 7 years of tribulation. All this is actually not the point of Jesus’ teaching of the end times.

Many people were interested in the end times. Many people wanted to figure it out. But it was all for the wrong reason. It was a way to escape responsibility for this life.

To escape the responsibility for this life because life is too difficult.

To escape responsibility because fighting for justice is too difficult.

In one sense, Jesus is teaching about the end to have people not so much think about how it will all end, but always be ready for the end.

This is the first important thing about the end times, you don’t have to worry about the end times, just be ready for it.

It is like a test. The only person who worries about when the test is and what is on it, is the person who has not been doing the work. But if you have been reading, and studying. Then you don’t have to worry. You are always ready.

And to bring these two points, he then begins to teach in parables. He has spoken to them in the type of language they understand when they think about end times. Army gathering. Temple. Jeruslam. A great big war.

Then chapter 25.

25:1-5

1“Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids#25:1 Or virgins; also in 25:7, 11.who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, 4but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. 5When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

 

The five foolish were foolish because they were living their life according to their exposition of end times. They knew when Jesus would come back. The point is not that they did not prepare enough, but that they prepared only for the return, only for the wedding.

The wise ones were not people who did not think about the details of the end times, only because its most important to always be ready. That is they lived as if the Jesus was coming back any day.

In one sense, this is true, I mean literally true. For all of us, the end times is in our generation. That is, we are not going to our live the life of our body. And when we die, that is the end of history for us, that is when Jesus returns, even if human history goes on for another 2,000 years.

But the one who is ready for Jesus return now is the one who is always living with fullness.

And don’t all those who have faced death but spared it, say this. That they have not fully lived their life. That they have wasted it.

Don’t we say that, that those who live the fullest are those who live their days like it was their last?

The one who know it’s now, is the one who has extra oil.

Use Your Gifts

Talents

14“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. 15He gave five bags of silver#25:15 Greek talents; also throughout the story. A talent is equal to 75 pounds or 34 kilograms. to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.

What is important then is what we do with the talents we have. Not what we have done is comparison with others, but what we have done with the talent, which is the whole context given to us. Now what we did for Christ in the world, but what we did for Christ, with the talents I have, in the city, in the school I teach, in the company I work, in the department. What have I done with my talents.

Not judging others. But simply with what I have.

 

Help the Weak

How will the Nations be Judged?

25:31-33

31“But when the Son of Man#25:31 “Son of Man” is a title Jesus used for himself. comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32All the nations#25:32 Or peoples. will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.33He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

But there is still a lingering question, perhaps the most important question. If the judgment is not against the nations but the acceptance of all nations, then where is the judgment. What is the judgment. If everyone is accepted. If my Jewish heritage is not the marker, then what is? So how can we live as if the end is now, how shall we use our talents? And for what purpose?

Jesus addresses it with a parable. And there is judgment. And Christ uses a familiar image of the sheep and the goat. The sheep as those loved and good. The goat as those who are disobedient.

And though we might have heard it so much we don’t appreciate it, Jesus totally redoes the end times. And this is what must get us. What will we be judged by?

How we loved the least. This is central to the gospel. At the end, the judgment of our lives, will no come down what my nationality was, what my ethnicity was, what my religion was, what my creed was, what my religion was if by religion if we simply mean a membership to an institution, but how we treated the weakest.

Jesus born to a peasant, without an inn, born in a manger, whose people were murdered by King Herod, this Jesus is the King of Kings and will judge us by what we do when a peasant couple comes knocking on our doors.

 

 

Frances de Sales

Jane Frances de Chantal was born in Dijon, France, (on 28 January 1572,)the daughter of the royalist president of the Parliament of Burgundy. Her mother died when Jane was 18 months old. Her father became the main influence on her education. She developed into a woman of beauty and refinement, lively and cheerful in temperament.[1] She married the Baron de Chantal when she was 21 and then lived in the castle of Bourbilly. Baron de Chantal was accidentally killed while out shooting in 1601. Left a widow at 28, with four children, the broken-hearted baroness took a vow of chastity. Her mother, step mother, sister, first two children and now her husband had died. Chantal gained a reputation as an excellent manager of the estates of her husband, as well as of her difficult father-in-law, while also providing alms and nursing care to needy neighbors.

During Lent in 1604, the pious baroness met Saint Francis de Sales, the bishop of Geneva who was preaching at the Sainte Chapelle in Dijon. They became close friends and de Sales became her spiritual director. She wanted to become a nun but he persuaded her to defer this decision.[1] Later, with his support, and that of her father and brother (the archbishop of Bourges), and after providing for her children, Chantal left for Annecy, to start the Congregation of the Visitation. The Congregation of the Visitation was canonically established at Annecy on Trinity Sunday, 6 June 1610.[2] The order accepted women who were rejected by other orders because of poor health or age. During its first eight years, the new order also was unusual in its public outreach, in contrast to most female religious who remained cloistered and adopted strict ascetic practices. The usual opposition to women in active ministry arose and Francis de Sales was obliged to make it a cloistered community following the Rule of St. Augustine. He wrote his Treatise on the Love of God for them.[1] When people criticized her for accepting women of poor health and old age, Chantal famously said, "What do you want me to do? I like sick people myself; I'm on their side."

Henri J.M. Nouwen

It is not surprising that many young men and women from all over the world want to come to Daybreak to be close to these special people. Yes, they come to care for them and help them in their needs. But they stay because those they came to care for have brought them a joy and peace they had not been able to find anywhere else. Sure, the handicapped members of Daybreak put them in touch with their own handicaps, their own inner wounds and sorrows, but the joy that comes from living together in a fellowship of the weak makes the sorrow not just tolerable but a source of gratitude.

 

 

Reading

Matthew 24:1-3

1As Jesus was leaving the Temple grounds, his disciples pointed out to him the various Temple buildings. 2But he responded, “Do you see all these buildings? I tell you the truth, they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!”

3Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?”

24:2

42“So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. 

 

25:1-5

1“Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids#25:1 Or virgins; also in 25:7, 11.who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, 4but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. 5When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

 

25:14-15

14“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. 15He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.

25:31-33

31“But when the Son of Man#25:31 “Son of Man” is a title Jesus used for himself. comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32All the nations#25:32 Or peoples. will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.33He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matthew 23 - The King Who Judges

Matthew 23

If there is a chapter in gospels that finally puts rest that image of Jesus as this soft, always smiling, hippie feel good teacher, it is this chapter. In this chapter his veins are popping, his throat is horse from shouting his judgment on the religious leaders. He is laying it on them thick.

This is definitely one of those chapters you don't want to read it in its entirety because it is non-stop. It is like a mother's scalding that goes on for hours. Just when you think you mother's wrath has subsided and done, here comes another wave. And so it is with Jesus.

And when you listen, you hear those fiery prophets of old, Jeremiah and Isaiah, those who warned the people of impending doom because Israel thought they were covered by their ethnicity, safe by their jewish citizenry, a gauranteed to be saved. They could do no wrong. And Isaiah and Jeremiah says, “Oh no, you did lot of wrong!”

This is what Jesus is doing. The Pharisees though they were doing right by God, best they could, under Roman occupation, helping people to be faithful without being radicalized into zealots, a terrorist group.

But Jesus looks at them and says, you got it all wrong. That hurts. When you are trying your best and still get it all wrong?

The way Jesus lays it on the Pharisees is so painful, I was tempted to just read one of Jesus words of judgment. But I realized that if we are going to know Jesus as Jesus is, you have to hear this judgment. As hard as it is to hear, if we don’t hear it all, we won’t hear what he says at the end.

Now to put it into the right context, two things to say before reading the scripture itself.

First, Jesus judgment comes after the Pharisees were on the attack. The previous chapter, Pharisees are doing everything in their power, direct attack, secret traps, to get Jesus to disqualify himself. Jesus words does not come as a tit-for-tat. Jesus was not rolling up his sleeve and saying “that’s all you got, now it’s my turn.”

Jesus words of judgment comes after the Pharisees have basically exposed themselves as sick.

Jesus’ words is not a comeback of a vengeful leader. Jesus words is the truth of a doctor, the diagnosis of a sick soul and society. As hard as it is, we can’t talk about the cure until we talk about the disease. A band aide won’t do because we are not talking about a minor scrape, but a cancer of the soul and society.

Second, the context of the whole Matthew gospel, who is telling us about the story of the King of the Jews. And what Jesus is doing here is playing an important role of a king, that of judgment.

Remember. Jesus entered the city on a donkey just a few days ago, a symbol of a King who is returning not to conquer, a white horse, but to his own people, disrobed of the armor, and brining the peace he has created. And when the King comes back, he comes with judgment, to judge all the cases that have been piling up while he was away.

One of the primary role of a king is judgement. He is one who declares what is right and wrong. The King, who is wise and just, because his calling is from God, will mete out the judgment of God's wisdom and justice. This was hardly the case for most kings. For most all kings were sinners and abused their powers. But this King is actually God, so his judgment is wise, fair and just.

And the returning king judges his stewards. This is the world behind the parable Jesus often told, about the vineyard owner returning to his vineyard and judging the tenants.

Well, this is the parable if flesh and blood. Jesus is a prophet, but he is the kingly prophet, and he judges.

So are you ready for some judgment from Jesus?

 

23:1-4

1Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2“The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. 3So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. 4They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.

 

Now don’t let the word Pharisees throw you off. His judgment is not just for the professional religious. His judgment if for all Christians, who know God Word and rather than focusing on obeying it oneself, using it to judge others. More energy is spent on exposing the sins of others than on repenting of one’s own sins.

Any one feel a pang of guilt from this. Good!

5-12

5“Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels. 6And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues.7They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi.’

8“Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters9And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your Father. 10And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah. 11The greatest among you must be a servant. 12But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

 

 

Religion used to create another pecking order. You are the bottom of the society, so come to church, get a title, be the first to be seated at the dining table, claim special knowledge of scripture, make everyone afraid to read bible on their own, or pray on their own. Make yourself a necessity.

How can there be any hierarchy in the Christian family, when there is only one Father, God, and all of us, are brothers and sisters. How can a Christian bea master over another? How can a Christian think lower of other Christians?

13-24

13“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either.

15“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!

16“Blind guides! What sorrow awaits you! For you say that it means nothing to swear ‘by God’s Temple,’ but that it is binding to swear ‘by the gold in the Temple.’ 17Blind fools! Which is more important—the gold or the Temple that makes the gold sacred?18And you say that to swear ‘by the altar’ is not binding, but to swear ‘by the gifts on the altar’ is binding. 19How blind! For which is more important—the gift on the altar or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20When you swear ‘by the altar,’ you are swearing by it and by everything on it. 21And when you swear ‘by the Temple,’ you are swearing by it and by God, who lives in it. 22And when you swear ‘by heaven,’ you are swearing by the throne of God and by God, who sits on the throne.

23“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. 24Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel!

All this is hitting to close to home.

Jesus is judging how religion plays all these games of rule, how they argue about what is good and what is not good, about how to please God, all the while forgetting or ignoring about what really is good and matters to God’s heart.

This is church dividing over whether to play tradition hymns or contemporary music. Over whether they should do lectionary preaching or thematic preaching.

This occupies us. We make theology about why we do what we do. And in arguing about it, we really feel like we are doing something for God. I mean we are wrestling for truth right?

Meanwhile, children die of starvation, teens commit suicide, families break apart, innocent people are getting killed and executed. People are dying because of hopelessness and injustice and we argue about doctrines?

Have you heard about the argument about the argument over justification from the classical definition and new perspective?

Big name theologians.

I imagine them going up to heaven, and they meet Jesus and they are all so proud because they defended the truth, and say well Jesu I defended the classical theology of justification. And Jesus is going to look at them and say, “what are you talking about? I never heard that doctrine before.”

Jesus isn’t saying don’t think things through. Of course we should. Jesus says go tithe. But here is something you and I cannot argue about. Practice justice , mercy and faith!

 

25-28

 25“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! 26You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.

27“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. 28Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.

 

Jesus returns to what he first started with, Christians unwillingness to deal with their own crappy heart. This filthy heart of ours. Look how everything Romans do, you do in the pretense of religion.

29-36

29“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you build tombs for the prophets your ancestors killed, and you decorate the monuments of the godly people your ancestors destroyed. 30Then you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would never have joined them in killing the prophets.’

31“But in saying that, you testify against yourselves that you are indeed the descendants of those who murdered the prophets.32Go ahead and finish what your ancestors started. 33Snakes! Sons of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of hell?

34“Therefore, I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers of religious law. But you will kill some by crucifixion, and you will flog others with whips in your synagogues, chasing them from city to city. 35As a result, you will be held responsible for the murder of all godly people of all time—from the murder of righteous Abel to the murder of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you killed in the Temple between the sanctuary and the altar. 36I tell you the truth, this judgment will fall on this very generation.

 

Jesus breaks their last layer of defense. All that Jesus is saying, some of them are actually amening. They are nodding. Yes, because we agree with the prophets, we decry what our ancestors did to Jeremiah and Isaiah. If we were there, then we would have sided with Jeremia and Isaiah. We would have been in the right side of history.

But Jesus says, you are doing the same!

And I wonder if as we hear these words and Jesus say “this very generation” do we imagine that first century Palestinians or 21st Century Americans?

Do you know Jesus is talking to us, is talking about us?

Did you know that we had prophets in our midst and we killed them? Lincoln and King, to name just two?

Jim Wallis, a Christian thinker and writer, says “American Christian has been coopted.”

Is that true? Are we prophet killers? Is American Christianity in the wrong side of God?

The people listening to Jesus was convinced that they would never kill a prophet, they were more righteous than their ancestors. But irony was that they killed Jesus, who was the prophet of prophets, the King of righteous judgment.

I wonder, I wonder, if Jesus were to visit American churches, what would he say? Would the American Christians accept his judgment? Run him out of the pulpit? Get him arrested? Cry for death penalty?

I wonder, I wonder, if Jesus came today, what would he say to us, to you?

After delivering the judgment of the returning King, Jesus still has few more words.

37-39

37“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. 38And now, look, your house is abandoned and desolate. 39For I tell you this, you will never see me again until you say, ‘Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

These are not words of someone who hates, someone who gets a high on putting people down, who finds his meaning in being mean. Jesus words are harsh but his heart breaks. He is a mother who truly hates to judge.

I remember my mother…she would punish us, then hug me and say, “it hurts you more than me.”

It might not be true for all parents, but it is for Jesus.

For he is not just the king who judges but the king who sacrifices. He is a king who truly puts his people over himself.

Jesus is speaking about his death in few days. Irony is that the words welcoming the King were spoken but they did not understand. Jesus will return again, to Jerusalem, to America to the world, because he has to leave, he has to leave because there is one thing he must do, he must take the judgment upon himself. The judgment he lays of the his people, he will bear on his flesh. The disease of the soul will be his disease, the disease of the society will be his disease.

The king who lays down the rule, lays down his life

 

This King who says, "You hyprocrites," in a span of few days will be daying on the cross and with the little life left him will pray, "Father forgive them."

In this way he is more than any of the prophets, greater than Isaiah, Jeremiah and even Moses and Elijah. That he is ready to lay down his life for the people. And in that utter weakness, Jesus proves himself the true King.

Kids

Pastor Esther Yang,

The father hit himself

I tired this, surprise them with grace. I took it a step further. I hit myself.

And when I did it. Ian’s eyes opened and said, “So from here on, everytime I do something wrong, you wil get punished?”

Jesus takes on our judgment.

This frees us from the judgment but not the invitation to repent, to change our way of living.

To live looking into ourselves first, to live treating everyone as equals, to live putting justice and mercy and faith first, to live grateful to Christ who took away our judgment.

 

Four Quartets

The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer's art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

Our only health is the disease
If we obey the dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind us of our, and Adam's curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.

The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood-
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.

 

 

 

Readings

23:1-4

1Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2“The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. 3So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. 4They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.

5-12

5“Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels. 6And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues.7They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi.’

8“Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters9And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your Father. 10And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah. 11The greatest among you must be a servant. 12But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

 

13-24

13“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either.

15“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!

16“Blind guides! What sorrow awaits you! For you say that it means nothing to swear ‘by God’s Temple,’ but that it is binding to swear ‘by the gold in the Temple.’ 17Blind fools! Which is more important—the gold or the Temple that makes the gold sacred?18And you say that to swear ‘by the altar’ is not binding, but to swear ‘by the gifts on the altar’ is binding. 19How blind! For which is more important—the gift on the altar or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20When you swear ‘by the altar,’ you are swearing by it and by everything on it. 21And when you swear ‘by the Temple,’ you are swearing by it and by God, who lives in it. 22And when you swear ‘by heaven,’ you are swearing by the throne of God and by God, who sits on the throne.

23“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. 24Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel!

 

25-28

 25“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! 26You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.

27“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. 28Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.

 

29-36

29“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you build tombs for the prophets your ancestors killed, and you decorate the monuments of the godly people your ancestors destroyed. 30Then you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would never have joined them in killing the prophets.’

31“But in saying that, you testify against yourselves that you are indeed the descendants of those who murdered the prophets.32Go ahead and finish

 

 

what your ancestors started. 33Snakes! Sons of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of hell?

34“Therefore, I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers of religious law. But you will kill some by crucifixion, and you will flog others with whips in your synagogues, chasing them from city to city. 35As a result, you will be held responsible for the murder of all godly people of all time—from the murder of righteous Abel to the murder of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you killed in the Temple between the sanctuary and the altar. 36I tell you the truth, this judgment will fall on this very generation.

37-39

37“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. 38And now, look, your house is abandoned and desolate. 39For I tell you this, you will never see me again until you say, ‘Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

 

 

 

Four Quartets

The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer's art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

Our only health is the disease
If we obey the dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind us of our, and Adam's curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.

The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood-
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.

 

 

 

 

 

Mistaken Authority

We all instinctively desire to have more control over our lives. This, however, puts us at odds with Christ, who calls us to surrender all control to Him. In today's passage Pastor Adam looks at how Jesus confronts the idea of control in our lives, and invites us to take up Jesus' challenge to let Him, not us, be the one in authority.