January 25, 2016: Day 22 – Matthew 22

In yesterday’s reading we found included the very important passage of Jesus opening up salvation not just to the people of Israel, but to all who would call him Lord and Savior.  The first parable for today continues that theme.  The wedding banquet is another name for the kingdom of God.  The guests who were first invited were those who were the children of Abraham, but they refused to respond to the invitation offered by the Lord.  They even went so far as to kill the servants, which we said yesterday refers to the prophets who brought warnings and the Word of God to the people.  So the king says fling open the doors, let anyone enter into the kingdom of God.  Just so that we are all aware, that act of flinging open the doors is what allows us to have a personal relationship with Jesus.  As far as the poor guy without a wedding robe on, not sure what to make of him.  Maybe, just maybe, he came along for the ride and didn’t really understand that this was a wedding after all.  Maybe he didn’t understand that this was an (maybe his only) opportunity to have a time with the Lord of all creation.

There are a few other classic teachings in this Scripture.  The “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s” is an absolute classic.  Especially as we come up to tax season we find ourselves having to figure out exactly how much do we owe Caesar.  It is important to note that Jesus requires us to perform our civic duties, especially paying our taxes.  There is no wiggle room to be able to say that Jesus didn’t really mean that we have to do that which the government requires in this regard.  I know some would like to be isolationists in regards to the government, but Jesus is consistent on this issue.  

Then we have the greatest commandment which is twofold.  Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, mind, and soul.  You will notice the vertical relationship between us and God and the importance of that relationship.  Equally important is to love your neighbor as yourself.  That horizontal relationship is not in any way secondary to the first.  The problem is how do we judge whether we have a solid love of the Lord our God?  There is no measuring stick.  But we do have a measuring stick in regards to our neighbor.  Do we love our neighbor as ourselves?  Are we in the mindset that if there is a single person who is hungry, or without clothes, or without shelter that it actually affects us.  It is so much easier to focus on the spiritual and let aside the pragmatic challenges that face us daily.  As Jesus said: You will have the poor with you always.”  That is true, and so we must always consider the poor to be our neighbor and our priority.  This would be a great time to reread the book of James as a little extra homework for you.  It fits hand in glove with this Scripture.

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