devotion 4-20-15

Good Morning!To all of you who are friends of Big Pine United Methodist, but were unable to be here yesterday, I wish to tell you, this day after "announcement Sunday" in the Florida Conference, that I will be staying at Big Pine this July. I do, however, plan to retire at the end of December, 2015. This is a personal decision – In previous years, I have felt invigorated by all that goes on during our "Season", but this year, I simply found it difficult to muster the energy needed to minister in all the ways needed during the "Season", both of our Winter and Lent. I ended this season exhausted! And so, the decision to retire before beginning next season! For all of you, but especially those returning in January, I will miss you! Meanwhile, we have months of good ministry through the summer and fall and Advent, and I look forward to all of this!

Luke 20.41-47

41Then he said to them, “How can they say that the Messiah is David’s son? 42For David himself says in the book of Psalms, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, 43until I make your enemies your footstool.”’ 44David thus calls him Lord; so how can he be his son?” 45In the hearing of all the people he said to the disciples, 46“Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets. 47They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

The conflict continues – they no longer dare ask him any more questions, but he turns and asks them how the Messiah can be a descendant of David when David himself speaks of God already speaking to him, and David calls him Lord? (see Psalm 110) Jesus has presented them with a paradox – all of the prophecies of a Messiah say that he will be a descendent of David. Any descendent could be called a “Son of David” – but in 1st Century Middle Eastern Culture, and indeed, in the culture throughout the Old Testament, through the years, the father was always honored. A father could not call his son, Lord. And so, Jesus presents a logical conundrum – how could the father, David, call the Messiah, Lord? And yet, David has said, that YAHWEH said to his Lord, “Sit at my right hand”. In this paradox, Jesus is both Son of David, and David’s Lord. Neither title, alone, is enough – these, and other, titles come together to describe who Jesus was: Son of Man, and Son of God.

And then, still in the hearing of the people, and his questioners as well, he turns to teach his disciples, and what he has to say is not very flattering to those who had been questioning him. He says look at how these scribes think they are better than other people – they walk around in long robes, expecting people to greet them with respect in the market place. Can’t you see them – strolling the streets and markets of Jerusalem, ignoring the poor, in their designer robes? They expect to have the best seats in the synagogues (shades of “excuse me, that is my pew”?) and places of honor at banquets. How often did Jesus speak about people jostling for the places of honor at a banquet! Today, we might think of someone who would say, if I am not to sit at the head table, I won’t attend. They devour widows’ houses – a widow in the first century had no way to earn a living – women, with rare exceptions, did not work. If a woman did not have adult sons to support her, or if she were young and still had small children, but no relatives willing to provide for them, what was she to do? She might take out a mortgage on the property, her home – she could inherit only if there was no male relative to inherit. And if she did not pay on time, these very religious men who talked about their own righteousness would repossess the property, throwing her out – thus they devoured a widow’s home. And then, they would stand on the street corner and say long prayers, for the sake of appearance. Their actions in secret, and their public appearances, did not match; they were not authentic. Their righteousness was phony. These, then, Jesus said, would receive the greater condemnation. They might seem to be doing well now – but they would not do well in the end. There would be a day of judgement.

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