Good News Rediscovered Word on the Week 27th February 2021.
As zoom meetings go there was one this week that worked well! It’s not that the technology behaved perfectly, it didn’t, or the ‘breakout rooms’ served their purpose, I lost my video screen and had difficulty recognising the voices but the content was what we needed to hear!
The content took us back to when Jesus was being harassed and hounded by the Chief Priests and Elders of the People. Rather like the media. They always turn up and often get the message wrong! Now having dealt with the Sadducees (Matthew Chapter 23 verse 34). The Pharisees, confronted by truth, stopped asking any more questions (Matthew Chapter 23 verse 46). Somewhat like today with the religious in Ireland silenced.
It seemed that all the frustration which had built up over the previous three years of teaching was channelled into one sustained outburst of home truths from Jesus’ lips which St Matthew recorded for us in Chapter 23 of his book. It was a full frontal attack on the religious of his day! Sometimes known as the seven woes.
The sermon begins with a confirming word acknowledging the role the Pharisees received from Moses recommending obedience to the law. The problem was the Pharisees had added to the law and the 10 Commandments now added up to 612 rules and regulations! They did not keep the laws themselves! Not much has changed today. There is still a lot of hypocrisy around (St Matthew Chapter 23 verses 1 to 36).
Chapter 23 ends with an invitation. Not to go to the Priests nor the Temple. But to come to Jesus. This was in line with the other invitations Jesus gave – to his disciples to ‘follow me’ and to the weary to give him their burden (Chapter 11 verse 28).
This is a passionate invitation from one who could see where Jerusalem was heading “Jerusalem, Jerusalem! She who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, yet you were not willing”!
This is the last appeal Jesus gave. He was bypassing the religious system which had been abused by its leaders. His plea has no strings attached. It is to all – unlimited. Even to those who had been unwilling to trust in his words. God’s omnipotent grace! As the hymn puts it; “His love has no limit, His grace has no measure, His power no boundary known unto men. For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth and He giveth and He giveth again.” ~ A. J. Flint.