Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Once again, the Pharisees are doing everything they can to prove that Jesus is a fraud and a phony. A lawyer among the Pharisees asks Jesus what the greatest commandment is. But they don’t really care about the truth. They don’t care about the Word of God. All they care about is their own perceived superiority: how they have studied the Word of God, how they perfectly patterned their lives after God’s Law, how no one else can match their faithfulness. The Pharisees weren't interested in learning unless they could see the benefit to themselves. They were those students who raised their hands the fastest and always gave a right answer. They were those students who took great joy showing off and smirking at the ignorance of their classmates.
But just as he did before, Jesus silenced the Pharisees. “If David calls [the Christ] 'Lord?', how is the Christ also David’s son?” Suddenly the know-it-alls didn't have an answer for Jesus. In fact, their ignorance on this matter made it clear to everyone that maybe they didn't know nearly so much as they thought. So instead of listening and learning, they just stopped asking questions. The Pharisees weren't interested in learning unless they could use it as an opportunity to show everyone how much they knew. They stopped asking questions altogether.
We, on the other hand, have no problem questioning God. “Why doesn’t God do things the way we want them done?” “Why did He put that tree in the Garden?” “Why do I have to have cancer?” “Why does it seem like evil people prosper and people who are generally good seem to suffer?” We have all sorts of questions for God, because we feel we know best how to take care of ourselves, because we know what we need, because we don’t like to have to rely on anyone else…ever. It is contrary to our rugged individualism to admit that we are not sufficient to meet every challenge placed before us. We are a new brand of Pharisee, for not only do we trust in our own reason and strength, but we make ourselves out to be gods, putting our sinful desires ahead of the Word of God and His gifts. We fear, love, and trust in ourselves, and we think that’s enough. Like the Pharisees, who want to know which commandment is greatest so that they can save themselves by keeping the commandments, we are satisfied with our own expectations, our own understanding, our own obedience. And if that’s good enough for us, that should be good enough for God.
But Jesus teaches us these commandments, not so we can save ourselves, but so that He can save us. We don't have all the answers, especially in spiritual matters. Left to ourselves, we're like children who stumble around in a dark room, bumping into furniture and knocking things over. That's why you are invited to sit at the feet of the Christ, the Son of David, and be taught by God through His Word and messengers. That's the Word which saves us! He saves us from our inability to keep the Law by keeping it in our place. Yet He also teaches and trains us for our purpose in life: first, to glorify God by receiving His Word and gifts: daily living in our Baptism, being absolved of our sins, and receiving Christ's body and blood; and second, to love and serve our neighbor in his time of need.
Saving faith is not about having the sinner having the right answer—which is good, because no sinner has every right answer. Saving faith is not all about the sinner being perfectly obedient—and again, that’s a good thing, because no sinner is perfectly obedient. Saving faith is all about Jesus, because Jesus has all the right answers and perfect obedience. And what’s more, saving faith is all about Jesus, because He gives you His perfect obedience, and He speaks all the right answers before His Father for you. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.