CHRISTIANITY 101

CHRISTIANITY 101

Opening Prayer

I thank you Lord. You are the God who knows my weakness and gives me strength. You know my needs and give me grace.

Read MATTHEW 22:34–46

The Greatest Commandment

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Whose Son Is the Messiah?

41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”

“The son of David,” they replied.

43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,

44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord:
    “Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
    under your feet.”’[c]

45 If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” 46 No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.

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Footnotes

  1. Matthew 22:37 Deut. 6:5
  2. Matthew 22:39 Lev. 19:18
  3. Matthew 22:44 Psalm 110:1

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Meditate

God, help me to love you with all my being. Transform me so that I love others as I should.

Think Further

As a biblical scholar, I confess that we academics can make Christianity much too complex. We get lost in questions, possibilities, binaries, and uncertainties. Such tendencies are greater in our digital age, as we are bombarded with information overload. This encounter tells us what Christianity is really about.

Seeing the Sadducees swatted away, the Pharisees attack Jesus through a scribe. Pharisees saw 613 laws in the Torah: 365 positive and 248 negative. Naturally, they grappled with questions of the relative importance of these laws.1 The question then is apt. Jesus’ answer is consistent with second-temple Judaism. He references the Shema as most important – loving God with everything one has – from Leviticus 19:18, the law of neighborly love. Jesus taught that one’s ‘neighbor’ is not just one’s own kith and kin, but anyone – including one’s enemies.2 Core to our faith is love: loving God wholeheartedly and loving anyone, whether friend or foe. Most of the rest is academic.

The second part of our reading would have antagonized the Pharisees. Jesus takes the messianic Psalm 110:1 and states that it predicts not merely a son of David but the divine ‘Lord’ (Adonai in Hebrew). This figure will reign until God’s enemies are overcome. Having been declared ‘son of David’ earlier,3 Jesus provocatively implies that he is this figure. Time is running out for his opponents to choose to join him, or they too will be crushed along with all God’s enemies. We are taught that core to Christianity, alongside love for God and others, is believing in Jesus as Lord and hoping for his completion of the overthrow of God’s enemies. Christianity 101 then, as Paul says, is faith, hope and love; the greatest of these is love.4

Apply

Read 1 Corinthians 13:13 and Galatians 5:5,6. Ask God to strengthen you to trust in him, hope in all situations and love everyone non-discriminately.

Closing prayer

Sovereign Lord, I need the God-like attitude that Jesus referred to. Only that grace will enable me to follow you and love others as I should.

Last Updated on January 18, 2023 by kingstar

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