Lectionary Sunday: Matthew 22:34-46
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: “What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David by 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 David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?” No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions. (NRSV)
In children’s church this morning, I’ll be sharing pictures of “Classroom Rules” from various elementary classrooms. As a teacher and a children’s minister I’ve had so many different “Classroom Rules” lists.
Sometimes, with kids in Upper Elementary and Middle School, I’ll have kids write their own suggested rules, and then facilitate a discussion on which rules we will keep, which can be combined with others, and which should be scrapped.
This summer, a particularly squirrely group of 3rd – 6th graders, fought long and hard over whether we should keep the rule, “No Socks.” They laughed, debated and pleaded their case for “no socks.” While I could hardly keep my eyes from rolling, they were taking advantage of creating a new set of rules, and they wanted it to have their own unique flair.
We love to create rules.
“I won’t eat white carbs, except on Sundays, when I celebrate with my family.”
“Forks, go on the left, and the dinner fork goes inside of the salad fork.”
“If you run a yellow light, you have to hit the roof of your car.”
“You must drink eight 8-oz glasses of water per day.”
Teachers agree that the fewer rules you have and the simpler they are to understand the more likely students will actually follow them.
Throughout Matthew 21 and 22, you have stories of people trying to make things complicated, here’s what I mean.
- This temple was supposed to be a place to pray, but you’ve made it hard for people to do that. Keep it simple, look the kids get it.
- It’s simple, a fig tree is supposed to produce figs, if it doesn’t produce figs it shouldn’t be called a fig tree.
- If you couldn’t tell me about the authority that John had to baptize, then I’m not going to tell you where my authority comes from either. I’ll keep it simple.
- If your father tells you to do something, it is simple. Do it. Don’t say yes and not do it.
- The landowner was generous to the tenants, all he asks is return is the payment of fruit. It was supposed to be simple. But you went and killed a bunch of servants and eventually even his son.
- The king is throwing a party, you were invited, now it’s simple. Get dressed and show up. If you don’t show up, he’ll invite someone else. If you don’t get dressed, you can’t come to the party.
- You can debate and worry about taxes and coins all you want. It’s really simple though, Caesar’s image is on the coin, but God’s image is on you. You don’t have to make things complicated. Give God all that you are.
- Sure ask questions about the resurrection, but you don’t understand, we’re not going to be worried about marriage then. Your missing the point resurrection isn’t about abstract philosophical, hypothetical questions. It’s simple, it’s new life.
It’s less about rules and more about love.