As my oldest son has grown, he is now a front-seat rider in the car. As most parents whose children have transitioned from car seat, to booster seat, to back seat, to front seat would tell you, it is a brave new world. Having a co-pilot in the cockpit is mostly fun, but often the kid acts like he owns the joint. Picking the radio station, fooling with the temperature controls, and offering navigational guidance seem to be a part of my son’s ever-expanding sense of sovereignty in the car.
Truth be told, I kind of like it. His ownership of what is happening in the car is a reflection of his maturation and growing sense of self. But from time to time I find myself pushing back against his sense of dominion. Every once in a while he needs to be reminded that he is, in fact, not in charge of everything and that there was fantastic music made before 2016.
In the sermon on Sunday (which you can listen to here) we continued in our sermon series entitled Encounter: Face-to-Face with Jesus. As we studied Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5 and Jesus’ sense of how he understands himself in relation to Moses, the Law, and the Prophets, it became clear that Jesus claims an unparalleled authority.
Six times in a row, Jesus quotes from the Law and the Prophets and then he places his own teaching over and above what was written in the Law of God. And the Jewish people, who are trying to understand who Jesus is and how he understands himself, are beyond offended by this. In fact, they are shocked and outraged. “Who do you think you are Jesus? You are putting yourself above Moses and in the place of God.”
It quickly becomes evident why so many of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day are interested in having him put to death.
Jesus essentially tells the crowd, “I have not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets, but they belong to me. I get to decide what to do with them.” It’s a kind of authority they have never seen. He didn’t teach as a temple leader, or as a Pharisee, or as a rabbi. He taught with the authority of God himself.
We are not First Century Jews. But many of us do know what it is to be challenged by Jesus. We know what it is like to read Jesus’ teaching and feel like it is too hard and too challenging. We know what it is to read Jesus’ teaching and feel offended or pushed. For example, to be taught by Jesus that we are to use our money not for ourselves but for the Lord’s purposes. That feels counter to everything we may have been taught about money. We know what it is to be asked to do something by Jesus and feel that it makes no sense. And in those moments, we too have to ask and seek an answer to the very questions the Jews were asking in Matthew chapter 5: “Who is this man? Does he really have the authority to tell me how to live my life? Is he sovereign over the Law of Moses, and the Prophets, and the Church and over me?”
If you believe that Jesus is who he claims to be, you are invited to receive the grace and love of God by placing your faith in him. If you believe Jesus is who he claims to be, you are invited into an intimate, ongoing personal relationship with God. If you believe Jesus is who he claims to be, you are invited to be baptized and to identify with the people of God. And if you believe Jesus is who he claims to be, you are charged to obey – to obey what Jesus taught. No matter how challenging, no matter how scandalous to the culture, no matter the cost.
Why? Because he is Jesus. And we are not.
Grateful to be a person who is being pushed, offended and challenged by Jesus alongside you!