Pastor James Preus
Trinity Lutheran Church
October 8, 2023
On the Tuesday before He was crucified, just two days after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus taught His last recorded lesson in the temple. And in this final lesson in the temple, Jesus teaches us what every Christian must know to be a Christian. What is the heart of the Law? And, who is the Christ? If you do not understand what the Law is all about and who the Christ is, then you cannot be a Christian.
We learned in last week’s sermon that the heart of the Law is love. The goal of every commandment is that you love God and your neighbor. Jesus proved this by working on the Sabbath by healing a man with dropsy, yet He kept the spirit of the commandment by loving His neighbor and His God. So, it is no surprise for us today that when a lawyer asks Jesus what the greatest commandment in the Law is, Jesus answers, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”
The Law and the Prophets refers to the Old Testament of the Bible. All of Scripture depends on the commandments to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and your neighbor as yourself. And so, every commandment we see in Scripture reinforces this fundamental goal of love. However, while love sounds nice, this standard of love does not make the law easier for us. Rather, it convicts us of sin at our very heart.
Now, when you examine yourself according to the commandments, you can’t just say that you’ve slipped here and there in following a command. No, now your failures always go straight to the heart. Why did you misuse God’s name? It’s because you don’t love God. Why do you miss church all the time? It’s because you don’t love God. Why did you talk back to your mother and show her disrespect? Because you don’t love her. Why did you lust after another woman? Because you don’t love your wife as yourself. Why did you hit your brother? Because you don’t love him. Why did you gossip behind your friend’s back? Because you don’t love him. Why do you want what your neighbor has? Because you love yourself more than your neighbor and you don’t trust and love God.
People will kick back at this. Everyone wants to believe that he can still love God and his neighbor, while doing and saying things that are hateful. But your words and actions betray your heart. And Scripture declares, “every intention of the thoughts of [man’s] heart [are] only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5) And Jesus Himself says, “out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” (Matthew 15:19) So, all of Scripture depends on the command that you love God and your neighbor from the heart, yet Scripture states that you cannot love from the heart. Therefore, it is necessary for you to have a new heart! So, while Jesus masterfully and beautifully sums up all of Scripture with this message of love, the commandment to love hangs over our heads as a heavy burden.
Next, Jesus asks, “Whose son is the Christ?” Now, Scripture is clear that the Christ is David’s Son. God promised King David that He would raise up a son from Him, who would sit on His throne forever (2 Samuel 7). And the prophets in one accord proclaim the son of David to be the Christ. We hear this every Christmastide, when we hear the prophecy of Isaiah, that the stump of Jesse (David’s Father), will send forth a shoot, who shall stand for a signal for the peoples (Isaiah 11:1, 10). This is why the chief priests and scribes were so indignant, when the crowds and children were singing to Jesus, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matthew 21:15) By calling Him the son of David, they were declaring Jesus to be the Christ.
It is not controversial that David’s son is the Christ. But what Jesus says next is the most controversial teaching, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, ‘The Lord said to my lord, sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet’ If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” For us Christians, it is obvious what Jesus is implying with this question. The Christ is not only David’s son, but He is David’s Lord. The Christ is David’s God!
But before we delve into the significance of that, let’s back up and focus on a thing Jesus says almost in passing. Jesus references Psalm 110, and says, “How is it that David in the Spirit, call the Christ Lord.” Did you catch that? In the Spirit. What Spirit? The Holy Spirit. David wrote Psalm 110 by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This means that Psalm 110 is not simply a poem written by King David. It is a prophecy caused to be written by God the Holy Spirit Himself! In fact, all the Psalms were caused to be written by the Holy Spirit. This means that when you pray the Psalms, you are praying a prayer, which was composed in heaven for you. This also means that the Psalms are filled with prophesies about the Christ and His work of salvation.
St. Peter proved this by quoting Psalm 16, where King David says, “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.” Peter points out that David did in fact die and that his tomb was still present in his day, so David was prophesying about Jesus Christ, who, though He died, God raised Him from the dead! (Acts 2:25-32) And so, we learn from Jesus and His apostles to search for Christ in the Psalms. Psalm 22, the first line of which Jesus quoted from the cross, crying, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” also records David saying, “they have pierced my hands and feet,” and “they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” So, we see clearly, that David here prophesies of Jesus Christ.
Yet, it is not only the Psalms, which prophesy of Christ. Every page of Scripture speaks of Christ, so that from the Old Testament we learn of Jesus’ virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14; Genesis 3:15), His divinity and humanity (Psalm 110:1), His atoning death for our sins (Isaiah 53), and his glorious resurrection from the dead (Jonah 1:17; Psalm 16:10), and His ascension at the right hand of God the Father (Psalm 110:1; 68:18). This is why Jesus told His disciples after His resurrection, “Everything written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. … Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations beginning from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:46-47)
So, we learn that the entire Bible is inspired by God the Holy Spirit and is God’s Word. We learn that the Bible reveals the truth of salvation through Jesus Christ. And we learn that the Bible is fully trustworthy. The last time Jesus stands in the temple before He is crucified, just days after He is proclaimed to be the Son of David by the crowds, Jesus argues from Holy Scripture that the Christ, the Son of David, is David’s Lord. Jesus, David’s Son is David’s Lord.
Why does this matter? It matters, because Jesus is anointed by God not simply to be a national hero like David, but to rescue all peoples from their sin. David said that the Lord said to His Lord, sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet. There is only one Lord, yet the LORD spoke to David’s Lord. God is one, yet God spoke to God. Psalm 110 teaches us of the Holy Trinity. To be at God’s right hand means to be equal to God. No one can be equal to God, but God. So, we learn that the Son is equal to the Father. There is one God, yet three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Yet, we also learn that the Son is David’s son. He is God, yet He is man. He bears our human flesh, yet He sits on God’s throne! This means that the enemies placed under His feet are not territorial leaders like the kings of the Philistines, Syrians, or Romans. The enemies Christ comes to conquer are sin, death, and hell. Satan himself is placed under Jesus’ feet. The prophet cries, “O death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?” (Hosea 13:14) And the Apostle answers that the sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the Law, but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:55-57) Christ has ransomed us from death by paying for our sins. He being our brother in the flesh placed Himself under the Law and was judged according to the Law. Being found blameless, He suffered for our sins in our place. Being true God, His suffering is a sufficient price for our sins, and infinitely more. So, when Christ is placed on His rightful throne in heaven, our sin, our guilt, our Satan, our death, and our hell are all placed under His feet!
So, the Christ prophesied of in Scripture is a Savior from sin, death, and hell. Our hearts betray us by causing us to sin against the Law of love. Yet, Christ comes and fulfills the Law of love for us, so that we may be saved through faith. And the same Holy Spirit, who caused the message of Christ to be written down in Holy Scripture also works through the preaching of this word to create a new heart within your breast, so that you may believe the promise of Christ, that He has borne your sins, and that whoever believes in Him will be saved.
But wait a minute! What about those two commandments upon which all of Scripture hangs? Those two commandments that demand our love for God and our neighbor from the heart? Those two commandments, which expose our sinful hearts and condemn us to hell? Those two commandments, which the Holy Spirit Himself caused to be recorded? Do we ignore them and cast them away? How can we without undoing all of Scripture?
We do not cast them away, but we find their fulfillment in Christ. Christ Jesus, David’s Son, loved the Lord His God with all His heart, soul, and mind, even dying on the cross out of obedience to God. And Christ loved His neighbor instead of Himself, suffering and dying for us, so that we might have eternal life. He fulfilled the Law for us. Yet, this Law of love remains God’s eternal will for us. He saved us through Jesus, so that we would continue in this love. So, by the power of the same Holy Spirit, who caused the Gospel to be written, and who created faith in our hearts, we too learn to love God with all our hearts and our neighbor as ourselves. Because of our sinful flesh, we do this imperfectly now, but God forgives our weakness for Christ’s sake. Yet, through faith in Christ, we do grow to love God more and more and our neighbor as well.
Jesus did not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets. He came to fulfill the very heart of them: Love. And He did not do this to free us from the activity of love, but to free us from the condemnation of hate. Yet, that on which the Law and Prophets depend, still stands. And in our renewed state in the resurrection, we will truly love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and our neighbor as ourselves forever. Amen.