TEXT: MATT 22:34-46; DEUT 10:12-21; 1 COR 1:1-9
IN CHRIST GOD LOVES YOU WITH HIS WHOLE HEART!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


To the church of God at Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints…Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (drawn from 1 Cor.1:1-3)


Your heart is racing!  Your nerves are tighter than they’ve ever been. Your mind is numb. You have just witnessed several individuals shot to death – shot in the head – for acknowledging faith in Jesus Christ. It happened so fast – so unexpectedly. The carnage is there before your eyes. There is no escape – no hint of rescue. The shooter then orders you to stand and asks – “Are you a Christian?”


What do you think about the Christ?  Whose Son is he?”  If David calls him Lord, how is he his son?”


When the Pharisees heard that (Jesus) had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. There was no doubt some delight in their gathering for they opposed the Sadducees in almost every way. They knew how difficult it was to silence those high achieving – socially elite - theologically liberal – economically wealthy - intellectually gifted – power players of the day. The Pharisees surely had some pleasure in this silencing. Just like He muzzled the raging waves on the stormy sea – Jesus had muzzled the Sadducees concerning their unbelief in the resurrection of the dead (22:23-33). Their dark sophistry had fled from the light of His Word!  They were astonished at his teaching.

EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY – OCT 4, 2015
TEXT: MATT 22:34-46; DEUT 10:12-21; 1 COR 1:1-9
IN CHRIST GOD LOVES YOU WITH HIS WHOLE HEART!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


To the church of God at Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints…Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (drawn from 1 Cor.1:1-3)


Your heart is racing!  Your nerves are tighter than they’ve ever been. Your mind is numb. You have just witnessed several individuals shot to death – shot in the head – for acknowledging faith in Jesus Christ. It happened so fast – so unexpectedly. The carnage is there before your eyes. There is no escape – no hint of rescue. The shooter then orders you to stand and asks – “Are you a Christian?”


What do you think about the Christ?  Whose Son is he?”  If David calls him Lord, how is he his son?”


When the Pharisees heard that (Jesus) had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. There was no doubt some delight in their gathering for they opposed the Sadducees in almost every way. They knew how difficult it was to silence those high achieving – socially elite - theologically liberal – economically wealthy - intellectually gifted – power players of the day. The Pharisees surely had some pleasure in this silencing. Just like He muzzled the raging waves on the stormy sea – Jesus had muzzled the Sadducees concerning their unbelief in the resurrection of the dead (22:23-33). Their dark sophistry had fled from the light of His Word!  They were astonished at his teaching.


One thing the Pharisee did agree with the Sadducees on, however, was trapping Jesus. One can imagine the conversation that went on in their gathering – the plotting – the strategizing – the deep desire to do what the Sadducees could not do. The lawyer who emerges to speak with Jesus was their point man – their spokesman. They wouldn’t have sent a vicar or an aging pastor for this job. They would have sent a young professor – a doctor of religion – carefully chosen to do verbal combat if needed. This lawyer was no doubt strong in ability, deep of intellect and eloquent of tongue. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.


“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Like media pundits in our day ask loaded questions to make someone look bad, so this lawyer asked a loaded question of Jesus. There were 613 rabbinical laws. Strict rabbinic teaching was that all of them were equally great. Complicated, circumstantial equations of importance had been worked out. Any answer Jesus gave could easily be used against Him as belittling the other commandments of God. “Teacher, which is the noblest commandment in the law?”


The author of the Torah, the Word made flesh, answers without hesitation. From Deuteronomy Jesus speaks the law in a nutshell. (H)e said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”


The lawyer’s question came from erring hearts intended to injure. Jesus’ answer comes from the Spirit intended to enlighten. They sought to trap Him in the law and ended up trapped themselves!  Tragically, however, they did not recognize the crushing weight of Jesus’ double-love command. It is crucial that we do! 


The moment we are born, love of self is the deadly enemy of love for our neighbor. This self-love proceeds from the sin of unbelief, for we do not fear and love and trust in God above all things. Therefore we do not love our neighbor as ourselves. Love is a word of vocation – an active and doing word. The very purpose of your life – the reason God has put you where you are today is to love and adore Him without reserve and to cherish your neighbor without holding back. Your neighbor is everyone God places into your life. You are to honor them and uphold them in their station in life. You are to help them in need – especially their need for God’s Word.


If we get love wrong, we get it all wrong. Agape love is hard work!  Such love keeps God’s name holy! Such love honors God’s commandments perfectly – it doesn’t seek to make them ten suggestions. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not covet. The commandments mean the same today as when you were born and when Jesus was born and when Moses was born – whatever human institutions or societies attempt to do with them. The love Jesus proclaims here insists on the truth of God’s Word. Such love confesses Christ clearly. Such love does no harm to the neighbor, even unintentionally. Such love sees its own debt of sin as the greatest of all and forgiven by God forgives others accordingly – even to the point of loving enemies and praying for those who persecute you.


Dear Christian, no law condemns us as thoroughly as Jesus’ double-love command! There are no excuses! There are no loopholes! If you have not and do not love the Lord your God with all that you are and have – and your neighbor as yourself (including that neighbor you don’t want to love as yourself) – then you fail. How easily we let opportunities to love slip away – convincing ourselves that we are saving up for something grand in the future. Yet a Christian in distress is Christ in distress –right now. Dr. Luther said that this lesson will cause a great stir on Judgment Day when Jesus says – whatever you have done to one of the least of these my brothers you have done it unto me.


There is only one answer to this compelling and crushing double-love command. Jesus gave that answer by way of a question of His own – a question deeper than any question of the law. Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is he?”  They said to him, “The son of David.”  He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Sprit, calls him Lord, saying, The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet’?  If David then calls him Lord, how is he his son?” 


This is not natural son-ship but supernatural. In this Psalm (110) David sings in reference to Christ’s kingship. By the Spirit David knew that his descendent would be His Lord – His God. For the one who is at God’s right hand is King and Priest and LORD forever, our constant mediator and intercessor before God. He is the one to whom all authority in heaven and on earth has been given. And with all that authority He is the one who commanded that all nations be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit – including Zephaniah Lester and Lucy Gloria today.


Please note that the foundation of Jesus’ command is not to love some distant being or some generic god or some higher power. Rather He says You shall love the Lord your God (Yahweh God). That is to say, You shall love Yahweh God who first loved you – who has given you His name. That is to say your total love of heart and soul and mind is first and last and always an answering love. It began and continues and comes to completion only in the total love of God for you. You cannot love others with the love Jesus commands if you do not love Yahweh God, the Lord your God. And you cannot love the LORD without receiving His total, forgiving, freeing, love for you.


Jesus continued, “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” The word for “depend” means that something “dangles” or “hangs from” as an object hangs on a nail. These two commandments picture two pegs at equal height from which hang the entire Old Testament Scriptures.


Beloved, our only hope in face of this astounding command for love is something greater than the Law and the Prophets. Our hope in the face of the love we lack is God’s gift of love in human flesh hanging from two nails at equal height on the cross. There in bloody shame hung God’s love for us sinners. This is how we know what love is that Christ laid down His life for us (1 John 3:16). “What do you think about the Christ?  Whose Son is he? If David calls him Lord, how is he his son?”  


And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone ask him any more questions. It wasn’t easy to silence the Sadducees or the Pharisees, but Jesus muzzled both using the Old Testament Scriptures. The Pharisees were afraid of Jesus’ question but you are not. You know how David’s Son can be David’s Lord and your Lord. In the Creed you confess Him as “very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father.”  He who always existed and through whom all things were made came down in human flesh as a descendant of David. That miracle – that holy mystery - is how David’s son is David’s Lord.


“What do you think about the Christ?  Whose Son is he?  He is God’s Son – the Word made flesh. He is love and He fulfills the law of love “for you.”  He loves you with no loopholes! He suffered God’s judgment and wrath for the love that you lack. In love He died. In love He rose again with victory over our whole unloving mess – with all our enemies put under His feet!  In love He ascended to be with us more than ever!


With all the authority of God’s right hand He continues delivering grace and faith and life to you – at the font where Zephaniah and Lucy were reborn on this day – in His word of absolution – a return to that washing – and at His Table. In this Sacrament of love Christ comes to give you all that He is and has – with the intense love of a Bridegroom for His Bride.


He knows your imperfect love. The post communion collect rightly leads us to pray that this salutary gift will strengthen us in fervent love (that is constant and unfailing and intensive love) for one another. But He knows the root problem goes even deeper than the struggle you have to love God and your neighbor. He knows also your ongoing struggle to be loved so much by God. “What do you think about the Christ?  Whose Son is he?  The greatest comfort in the Gospel is the answer to that question. If a shooter asks you – “Are you a Christian?” your answer must depend on His unshakeable love – not yours?  If terminal cancer or sudden collapse numb your mind, race your heart, tie you nerves in knots, strangle your feelings – His love for you has not changed.


His love for you is total because He is love!   His love for you is total – not because your love has measured up but because He has come down to lift you up. His love for you is total - not just for the sake of continuing you in this sinful existence for another day or year or decade – but so that not even death can separate you from His love when He calls you home. By whatever means God calls you home He would have you anticipate that day with the Psalmist; I was glad when they said to me, Let us go to the house of the Lord. Peace be within your walls and security within your towers. You are right to sing – “Thee will I love, My strength, my Tower.”  His love for you is total – so that even though you have not always answered correctly by your words and actions – “Are you a Christian?” – He is the answer to all of God’s promises (2 Cor. 1:20) for you.


You are right to wait for His revealing - who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. 


In His Name, Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a