34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37And 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. 38This is the great and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, 42saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” 43He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying,44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord,“Sit at my right hand,until I put your enemies under your feet”’?45 If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” 46And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions. Matthew 22:34-46
When it comes to tricking Jesus, to stopping Jesus, to silencing Jesus, the Pharisees are as relentless in trying to catch and convict him as Jesus is in trying to catch and convict them. Except that where the Pharisees’ on-going efforts to convict Christ will lead to his death, Jesus’ continued efforts to convict these religious leaders will lead to life.
On this journey to Jerusalem, I sit beside Jesus and watch. And wonder.
I wonder how the Pharisees can sit in the physical presence of Jesus and not see in him what his disciples see in him.
I wonder how the Pharisees feel in these moments. Does anything he says or does stir their hearts or bend them toward Jesus, toward truth, toward heaven even a little bit?
I wonder what the crowd thinks, witnessing these exchanges time and again. Do they understand the importance of these moments or understand the motivation of the religious leaders? Do they care?
I wonder why Jesus doesn’t simply write these men off as a waste of his time. He has so little time left, why does he choose to spend it like this? Continuing to engage with this group of unbelievers? To pursue them?
But that is the very nature of Jesus. He has spent his ministry with sinners in need of grace. He has dined with tax collectors and sat in the presence of prostitutes. He has touched lepers and embraced children and sought out other lesser-than people. He has corrected and admonished and convicted and forgiven. His words have been sometimes kind, sometimes harsh, always loving.
And yet, they miss it. The Pharisees miss who Jesus is. Even when he speaks directly to them about who their Savior will be, they cannot see him sitting there before them. Even when he quotes the Scriptures and claims it is fulfilled before them, they refuse to believe. They are so intent on their own purposes, their own pursuits, that they miss the wonder, they miss this incredible gift, the miss the miracle right before their eyes.
A familiar twinge winds its way into my consciousness. Into my heart. It is conviction. It is a call to examine my own response to Jesus. To examine my own motivations. To examine and remove the speck from my own eye.
How many blessings have I missed because I was too preoccupied with being right or being heard or being acknowledged for my efforts?
How many miracles have I overlooked because I had something to prove or was walking down the wrong road?
How many times have I not seen Jesus sitting right in front of me because he didn’t look anything like what I expected or I didn’t like what I was hearing?
How many times have I been an enemy of Christ without realizing it? Kind of like Peter. Zealous one moment. Messing up the next.
How many times have I been given the opportunity to offer hope, to provide encouragement, to change the world, to change one heart, to change one life, and missed it?
On this journey to Jerusalem with Jesus, sitting in his presence each day, I take this opportunity peer inside my heart. To rearrange my priorities. To realize my need of this Savior. Every day. Sometimes, on more challenging days, every minute.
And I ask myself, So what are you going to do about these things? Because that is what this journey is really all about. What will I do with these truths? What will I do with this Jesus? What will I let Jesus do with me?
And, most importantly, what are we going to do together, this Jesus and me, to change this world? His world.