The Lord & The Pretenders

Father, we see in Your Word how humbled people become the moment they see Your glory or have a personal encounter with You. Moses stands on Holy Ground just to hear Your voice. The Israelites later say that they will not be able to live through listening to You speak. Prophets cower, apostles shy away &the psalmist says that You make Lebanon skip (the actual ground skips!) when You speak. Father, may we be clothed in humility when we come to You, when we speak with You. A blast from Your nostrils shatters the mightiest trees, & stars are born when You say the word. But You also grace us with Your presence in Your Word, & through the whispers of Your Holy Spirit within us. We praise You & Your mighty works, we remain humbled before You, as is right. Speak now, for Your servants are listening. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Luke 20:41-47
41 But he said to them, “How can they say that the Christ is David’s son? 42 For David himself says in the Book of Psalms,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
43     until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

44 David thus calls him Lord, so how is he his son?”

45 And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, 46 “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, 47 who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

Jesus had so many questions asked of Him throughout His ministry, but when He was confronted by the Sadducees, Pharisees & Scribes there were often questions of authority batted around. This time, Jesus is the One asking the question, seeking a deeper answer & understanding for those present. He has a point to make about Himself & human authority. Any religious expert worth their salt should have been able to answer a question about David & the Messiah. That should be a softball question. But here, Jesus again takes them somewhere they weren’t expecting to go. They know who David is, they know who the Messiah is, in theory, but Jesus sees & knows that they lack understanding about authority & the deity of the Messiah.

When God asks questions of us, He does so to open our eyes beyond the worldview that we have set up for ourselves.When He speaks, revealing Himself, He does so to bring understanding & wisdom into the picture & into our hearts. He asks questions that lead us to His wisdom & will. He opens doors for us so we might leave behind what we thought we knew & grab a hold of His truth. Jesus does the same right here with this crowd.

Jesus references a commonly know psalm & prophecy for the Messiah, one that reminds them of His lineage from David, but also poses a question in regards to position & timing. It would not seem right that a father should call his son “Lord” or that a son would have authority over his father. We do see this happen with Joseph as he ruled in Egypt, & was in authority over his father, Jacob. But this was not the normal way of things. This passage about the Messiah probably perplexed them a little because they couldn’t break from their regular understanding & so Jesus seeks to open their eyes to real authority & His own identity in that regard.

Human authority is always temporary. Sin sees to this for us. At the best, we live a long life & then we go the way of our ancestors, but our authority does not go with us. Human authority is always temporary & it is always transferred/conferred to another person, either on purpose, at our death or by force. Position is fleeting, power cannot be maintained. We are limited because of the truth of death as a result of the Fall in the garden. But this psalm, & Jesus Himself, speak of the Messiah whom King David calls “Lord” & who is also supposed to be his descendant. This isn’t because of a twisted family tree, this is because the Messiah, who is David’s heir, also has another quality that exceeds David’s humanity. Jesus is revealing to them that the Messiah will be (and is) both fully God & fully man. It’s not one or the other. The Messiah is both David’s heir, born of flesh from his lineage, & also fully divine. Not part of each. There is never 50% of God, or 75% of God. God is whole. He is one God with three Persons, Father, Son & Holy Spirit. So the Messiah is a mystery in that regard (among others,) & He breaks open our understanding of authority.

The people needed to hear this. The Sadducees, like the Pharisees & Scribes, profited from buffering the people from God. They set up their own hierarchy, maintaining an air of distinction between themselves & ‘regular’ people who could never know God or the Scriptures like they did (sarcasm intended.) And so Jesus straight up calls them out for dressing for the part they scripted. Big hats, flowing robes, lofty (but false) human grandeur on display simply to elevate themselves above the rest. He points out how they abuse their power & take advantage of people because of it all the while having a fresh reminder of the Messiah who was sent to rescue God’s children. He exposes the deceit of the religious elite while exposing the divinity of the Messiah. And so He gives a warning, look to the Messiah, He is more than you expect. Look at the scribes & their lot, they are less than they appear.

Real authority isn’t a badge worn or a degree held. True authority comes from God, & it remains with God, & the Messiah was entrenched in every understanding of the word. You & I will encounter people every day who hold temporary authority, & Scripture reminds us as Christians to honor that position, even if the person is hard to respect. David’s son King Solomon said this:

Proverbs 21
1
The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;

    he turns it wherever he will.
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
    but the Lord weighs the heart.
To do righteousness and justice
    is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
Haughty eyes and a proud heart,
    the lamp of the wicked, are sin.
The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance,
    but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.
The getting of treasures by a lying tongue
    is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.
The violence of the wicked will sweep them away,
    because they refuse to do what is just.
The way of the guilty is crooked,
    but the conduct of the pure is upright.

As we walk daily under the authority of God, & with Jesus in the rhythms of His grace, we must trust the authority that God has over us all, even while we still show respect for those who hold temporary authority over us. His Holy Spirit speaks to us & within us as Christians, & His authority is right there ready to guide us if we will be still & listen.When we stand before the King of kings, we should do so with reverence & awe & with a fair bit more listening than talking.

People will always let us down & human authority has a tendency to be poorly wielded. But God’s authority is perfect, & He will always point us toward His glory rather than the shallow things we tend to reach for in life. Come now, let us bow down & bend the knee before the Lord our Maker.

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Psalm 119:161-168 // ש Shin // Peace in His Word

“161 Princes have persecuted me without cause,
but my heart fears only Your word.
162 I rejoice over Your promise
like one who finds vast treasure.
163 I hate and abhor falsehood,
but I love Your instruction.
164 I praise You seven times a day
for Your righteous judgments.
165 Abundant peace belongs to those
who love Your instruction;
nothing makes them stumble.
166 Lord, I hope for Your salvation
and carry out Your commands.
167 I obey Your decrees
and love them greatly.
168 I obey Your precepts and decrees,
for all my ways are before You.”

Psalm 119:161-168
==

Read this passage from Psalm 119 again. Listen to the confidence David has because of God’s presence in His Word.

Read it a third time, remembering how God’s Word has brought you peace.

Read it a fourth time, slowly, resting in the promise of peace that God offers to those who are faithful to Him, those who walk according to His Word and who have found their peace in Christ. Let this be a prayer of contented thanksgiving & praise. 

Psalm 119:153-160 // ר Resh // God’s Help in Our Struggle

“153 Consider my affliction and rescue me,
for I have not forgotten Your instruction.
154 Defend my cause and redeem me;
give me life as You promised.
155 Salvation is far from the wicked
because they do not seek Your statutes.
156 Your compassions are many, Lord;
give me life according to Your judgments.
157 My persecutors and foes are many.
I have not turned from Your decrees.
158 I have seen the disloyal and feel disgust
because they do not keep Your word.
159 Consider how I love Your precepts;
Lord, give me life according to Your faithful love.
160 The entirety of Your word is truth,
and all Your righteous judgments endure forever.”

Psalm 119:153-160

==

Read through David’s lament again. Read his cry to God a second time. Where is his heart? What is going on in his head?

Read it a third time, remembering God’s faithfulness in your own struggles, remember how He has shown you love and protection. 

Read it a fourth and final time, making it a prayer of remembrance. Praise Him for His faithful love & watchcare.  

Psalms 119:121-128 // ע Ayin

“121 I have done what is just and right;

do not leave me to my oppressors.

122 Guarantee Your servants well- being;

do not let the arrogant oppress me.

123 My eyes grow weary looking for Your salvation

and for Your righteous promise.

124 Deal with Your servant based on Your faithful love;

teach me Your statutes.

125 I am Your servant; give me understanding

so that I may know Your decrees.

126 It is time for the Lord to act,

for they have violated Your instruction.

127 Since I love Your commands

more than gold, even the purest gold,

128 I carefully follow all Your precepts

and hate every false way.”

Psalms 119:121-128

==

Read Psalm 119:121-128 again, a little more slowly and listen to what David is saying.

Read it a third time, line by line and listen to the cry of his heart. Listen as he speaks about the faithfulness of God and how he is pursuing faithfulness in his own life, seeking wisdom from the Word. 

Read it a fourth and final time, and make it your own prayer. Thank God for His faithfulness in your own life, seek Him out for strength in your own faithfulness and for wisdom for your day as you GoLove others in His Name.

Psalm 119:113-120 // ס Samek // Desire for Consistency

“113 I hate those who are double-minded,

but I love Your instruction.

114 You are my shelter and my shield;

I put my hope in Your word.

115 Depart from me, you evil ones,

so that I may obey my God’s commands.

116 Sustain me as You promised, and I will live;

do not let me be ashamed of my hope.

117 Sustain me so that I can be safe

and always be concerned about Your statutes.

118 You reject all who stray from Your statutes,

for their deceit is a lie.

119 You remove all the wicked on earth

as if they were dross;

therefore, I love Your decrees.

120 I tremble in awe of You;

I fear Your judgments.”

Psalm 119:113-120

==

Read this passage again & hear David’s desire for consistency within himself.

Read it a third time, listening for God’s desire to do a work of straightening within your own heart & mind.

Read it a fourth time, and humbly ask Him do do that work in you today.

Psalm 119:97-104 // מ Mem // Sweeter than Honey!

“97 Oh how I love your law!
    It is my meditation all the day.
98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
    for it is ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
    for your testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the aged,
    for I keep your precepts.
101 I hold back my feet from every evil way,
    in order to keep your word.
102 I do not turn aside from your rules,
    for you have taught me.
103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
    sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through your precepts I get understanding;
    therefore I hate every false way.”

Psalm 119:97-104

==

Read this section of Psalm 119 again, but a little more slowly, listening to the heart of God being unfolded in the heart & mind of David.

Read it a third time, bit by bit, line by line and listen to the heart of God speaking to your own.

Read it a fourth and final time, and make it your prayer.

Psalm 119:89-96 // ל Lamed // The Word Preserves

“89 Lord, Your word is forever;

it is firmly fixed in heaven.

90 Your faithfulness is for all generations;

You established the earth, and it stands firm.

91 They stand today in accordance with Your judgments,

for all things are Your servants.

92 If Your instruction had not been my delight,

I would have died in my affliction.

93 I will never forget Your precepts,

for You have given me life through them.

94 I am Yours; save me,

for I have sought Your precepts.

95 The wicked hope to destroy me,

but I contemplate Your decrees.

96 I have seen a limit to all perfection,

but Your command is without limit.”

Psalm 119:89-96

Think about how the Word of God helps to keep you on the right path. Think about the difference it makes in your life. Think about the strength and certainty we have because of the presence of God in our hearts through His Word. He has already done so much, yet He speaks to each one of us as e come to meet with Him here in His Word. 

Read through Psalm 119:89-96 again, but a little more slowly and make David’s words your own. Speak them to God from your own heart.

Read it a third time, line by line, and give God praise for what He has done in your own heart and life. 

Read it a fourth and final time, giving Him praise for His sovereignty over you, confessing your sin and need for Him and His Word.