Text: Matthew 23:27-39
For joy in the Word of God in all times and places
For those who suffer persecution
For the children of Israel
THERE IS DEEP TENSION IN the final words of Jesus’ farewell discourse as Matthew chooses to record it. Matthew’s account is colored by the frustration and agony that grew among synagogue Jews as the message about Jesus the crucified Messiah was spread. The disagreement between those who accepted and those who rejected Jesus’ Messiahship often broke down into violence, violence that recalled the sad history of Israel who attacked bearers of God’s word in the past.
I think it is important to note that the Lutheran Daily Lectionary pairs this passage with the beginning of Paul’s treatment of the topic of election in Romans 9-11. There, Paul wrestles with the implications of the strife within Jewish community life. Paul’s own evangelistic “technique” was to go to the synagogue in whatever city he visited and begin proclaiming the message there. From his own experiences and reflection, Paul is clear about one thing: God is faithful, God keeps his promises, and faith trusts in the promises of God. Paul says emphatically that God has not abandoned Israel, despite appearances, and faith looks to the day when God will resolve the strife and restore the full community of God’s people.
For us who have been grafted as “wild grapes” on the vine of Israel, we can be grateful that the God who chooses has chosen us, has made promises to us, and will keep his promises to save each of us. Our gratitude can move us to deeper prayer for our Jewish brethren who live in God’s faithfulness as much as we do, albeit with a different rhythm. Let us resist those who would curse God’s first chosen, and instead by our words and deeds bless the children of Israel.
May your day be grace-filled ~ Pr. Dave Brooks