Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Matthew 7:21-29 words of authority

Jesus preached a sermon on a mountain that, according to Matthew, left the crowds "...amazed/ astounded/ frightened ἐξεπλήσσοντο at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority/ power/ jurisdiction ἐξουσίαν, and not as the scribes." Matthew 7:28-29

Jesus words opened up the kingdom of God for everyone to hear and experience. Even at the very
tail end of this earth re-visioning sermon we hear him speak both law and promise. The crowd who gathered wanted to hear Jesus teach and they heard him declare a vision of God at work in the world like no one else could. He spoke provocatively inviting hearers to imagine the kingdom that was coming into being.

Some of Jesus' words leave me (and I suspect others) unsettled. Jesus named differences between a life built on sand and a life built on rock. The crowd knew what he meant; we know too whether we like it or not. He named the reality that we are free to choose our own destruction and often do. He spoke a word that makes me even more uncomfortable:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’ Matthew 7:21-23 NRSV
Jesus spoke the whole Word of God. He spoke the promise of eternal life and still named the reality that we can choose to walk away from God in the same sermon. He wasn't running for election or earthly approval. He didn't need our endorsement to be Son of God and son of man. He spoke directing, challenging, even needling his hearers to examine their lives and their relationship to God and their neighbors.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm probably going to borrow your observation that Jesus' hearers "knew what he meant" about building a life on sand or on rock for my sermon this Sunday. That's a good point. Deep down we all know the difference, I suspect.

Cliff Loesch