Lessons for Proper 25, Pentecost 21,October 29, 2017

Deuteronomy 34; 1-12

The final chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy, indeed the close of the Pentateuch, the Torah, the five books that established the beginning of creation and the law relationship between God and the Israel people, now rather incompletely ends before the big promise, a home in Canaan, is accomplished.  Israel has not “arrived”; Israel has not “made it.”  Deuteronomy gives Moses a quick “cook’s tour” of the future habitation, the promise made several times to the leadership line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and then announces the demise of Moses, despite his ”unimpaired sight” and his “unabated vigor.”  It certainly is a strange close of the very public, massively significant career that Mosses carried forth in a most personal interchange with the God of Israel. Moses is gone, Joshua is now the commander-in-chief.  An era has passed and Israel looks ahead with uncertainty.

 

I Thessalonians 2: 1-8

In a most intimate passage, in this letter, Paul expresses his real love for the early church at Thessalonica, for what they have already accomplished in the love of Jesus Christ.  Being some distance away and perhaps in prison, he finds it necessary to renew his position, his standing with these people, his standing with the God he serves.  There can be no confusion of either his message or the purpose of Jesus; all out love is the foundation stone of belief in the Lord; he has it and he earnestly desires the people of the community in Thessalonica to have it.

 

Matthew 22: 3-46

Having dispensed with the tax question of the Pharisees and Herodians (last week), Jesus next is confronted by the Sadducees with a trick question about responsibility in marriage; Jesus responds, pointing out that his questioners do not know the “scriptures or the power of God.”  The Sadducees retire to be replaced once again with some Pharisees who pursue another question, the third of this, the final exam.  In responding with the summary of the law, Jesus now turns the tables to ask his question – a question that the Pharisees cannot fathom.  The exam is over; the high priest and his retinue must find another way to eliminate this growing popular prophet in their midst.