Tough one, eh? (I had to get that Canadianism in someplace; perhaps a Norwegian Uffda might do, too.) In forty-five years of preaching, I likely ignored this passage more often than not—in favor of the preceding seven verses of the lectionary text. In this passage, Jesus uncharacteristically becomes the aggressor in questioning, and his logic may seem convoluted, at best. What is he saying?
He may have been contrasting his own messiahship with the then-prevalent concept of a Davidic messiah who would come to restore a political realm through military force by necessity, if not by preference. It's a concept that prevails to this day as nations seek to become dominant politically, militarily or economically. (Canada, being a middle-power, is, by default, somewhat immune to this seeking of domination, with one notable exception: hockey!)
Along came a different kind of messiah: One who, instead of inflicting suffering and death upon others, took that suffering upon himself and died with it, breaking the cycle of retribution. Then there can be new life—a resurrection. And there is. Thanks be to God.
Forgive us, O God, in our seeking to dominate one another, personally, in communities and as nations. Lead us to follow the messiahship of Jesus as he gave of himself unto death and was brought to a joyful resurrection. Amen.
Matthew 22:41-46 (NRSV)
41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question:
42 "What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?" They said to him, "The son of David."
43 He said to them, "How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying,
44 "The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet" '?
45 If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?"
46 No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.
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