Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Meditation for the Wednesday Before Easter

For a couple of days various factions among the Jewish leaders had sent their brightest and best to try to entrap Jesus and expose what they imagined to be His ignorance, and possibly entangle Him with the Roman authorities. Such a challenge was the context for today's passage. Here, Jesus turns the tables (an apt metaphor in this context!) on the Jewish leaders:

For they did not have courage to question Him any longer about anything. Then He said to them, "How is it that they say the Christ is David's son? For David himself says in the book of Psalms, 'THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, "SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET."' Therefore David calls Him 'Lord,' and how is He his son?" And while all the people were listening, He said to the disciples, "Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows' houses, and for appearance's sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation." (Luke 20:40-47, NASB)

In one "simple" question, Jesus hit them at the heart of their theology, the identity of the Messiah for Whom they supposedly waited, and accomplished with that one question what they had been trying to do to Him for days. It is rather apparent that they hadn’t thought of the curiosity Jesus asked about, or at least didn’t know the answer. It is likely that they would also have known that Jesus was descended from David, making their answer all the more perilous to their authority - they could blow off their scriptures or affirm something supportive of Jesus's authority. One can easily imagine their embarrassment, which Jesus swiftly compounded with His advice to His disciples. In all this contest over authority, the Jewish leaders saw Jesus as a danger to their power, their racket. They seemed to imagine that He was either a bomb-tosser, who would destroy without replacing their racket, or one who would try to muscle in on their racket. They couldn’t imagine that Jesus was neither and that, while their racket would be destroyed, He would not be the destroyer and He would establish something greater that was not to be a racket.

It was bad enough, from the viewpoint of the Jewish leaders, that Jesus sprang a trap on them. Compounding it was Jesus's very pointed, very public, warning against the hypocrisy underlying their pretentious piety. That was the last straw!

No comments:

Post a Comment