Matthew 22:34-46 (NRSV)
Verse 34When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, Verse 35and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. Verse 36"Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" Verse 37He said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' Verse 38This is the greatest and first commandment. Verse 39And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Verse 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
Verse 41Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: Verse 42"What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?" They said to him, "The son of David." Verse 43He said to them, "How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying, Verse 44'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet"'? Verse 45If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?" Verse 46No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.
In the cathedrals along the Camino, I witnessed evidence of many epochs in the history of the church when Christian hegemony over political and cultural life was enforced by military and legal force. Some in North America might long for a modern version of that reality. But what, I wonder, might be the Lord’s take on that?
Jesus’ own “gotcha!” question put to the Pharisees hints at an answer. Whose son would the Messiah be? The knee-jerk response was a descendant of David (see 2 Sam 7:16). That answer, however, was shorthand for a host of expectations about the restoration of Davidic monarchy, political independence from Rome, a Pharisee shaped theocratic government, and more. Citing Psalm 110:1, Jesus points out that since David calls him Lord, the Messiah must signal another reality altogether. David’s Lord is the Messiah not because he or his followers exercise coercive power but because he becomes the cruciform Christ, a Messiah who urges us all to follow the way of the cross as we live.
Lord, like the Pharisees, I often lose sight that you come to us not in dominating power, but in humility and weakness—as a servant who obeyed unto death on a cross. Help me submit my own desire for security so I can trust in your rule over all powers of this world. Amen.