Wednesday, September 2, 2015

What's In Your Wallet?

• Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
On Matthew 19:1-15. Jesus schools some Pharisees about divorce.

(Title a knock off of the Capital One commercial, “What’s in your wallet?”… if you have their credit card, you’re best equipped to handle life’s situations.)
After a month or two off we return to Matthew. A reminder that Matthew was written maybe 40 or 50 years after the death & resurrection of Jesus Christ, to the Jewish-Christian community at the northeast corner of the Mediterranean. Jesus has not returned, and the first generation of disciples and eyewitnesses is dying off, Paul is dead and his letters circulating, and the Temple in Jerusalem has been destroyed.
In the previous chapters, Matthew has shown Jesus talking to the crowds about living in community, how Christian community, discipleship, The Kingdom of Heaven is in contrast to the selfish and hedonistic ways of the world. In chapter 19, Jesus narrows his focus to the disciples as he takes the final steps before the crux of his mission: the Passion, the salvation of humankind.
In fact, the previous section on discipleship ends with the first verses of today’s reading, that Jesus left Galilee and headed toward Jerusalem; large crowds followed him, and he healed them.
What was in Jesus’ heart? The healing of people, the salvation of people, particularly the disenfranchised, the oppressed, the powerless. (recall Jesus and Isaiah 61 in Luke 4)
• Side note: when folks interact with the communities of Jesus today, they should find that same desire for healing and salvation, that same advocacy for the disenfranchised and oppressed and powerless…
what’s in Jesus' heart should be what’s in our hearts.
• So Jesus heads towards Jerusalem, and crowds follow him, and he heals them, and he has drawn the attention of the Pharisees, the ruling class of the Jews, who are threatened by his popularity, his authority and his challenge to their authority. & we read in verse 3 that some Pharisees came to “test” him. What’s in their hearts? It’s not the healing or salvation of people, particularly the powerless… and actually the word “test” is the same as the word used in chapter 4 when Satan leads Jesus into the wilderness to tempt him. They want to trip him, to shame him, to discredit him.
• The Pharisees ask whether it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife just because. (it was, btw).
Jesus rightly sees it not as a question of interpretation of law, but once again as a conflict between the kingdom of people and the kingdom of heaven. Like last week’s reading from Ephesians 6, there are spiritual forces at work here, not just questions of law.
& Jesus points to the establishment of marriage as God’s ideal for people from the beginning: we’re designed to be in partnership, it’s a gift of God to be in human relationship, and those who love God naturally want to honor the gift and the giver in their marriage.
“Divorce just because” is selfish and dishonoring both gift and giver, PLUS it disenfranchises women, and Jesus is NOT about that.
What is in Jesus’ heart? Honoring God, healing and saving people, and lifting up the powerless.
The same should be in the hearts of disciples.
• Now. Two current events on my mind.
What’s in the hearts of people, and what’s in our hearts.
• Ashley Madison hack a few weeks ago, personal information about 37 million accounts released: AM acct. holders are about 85% men, about half in US, so say 10million men in the US taking steps to have affair. (it’s legal). I read that there were 3 zipcodes in US that did not have associated accounts. That means there are Bville men registered.
There is a battle between kingdom of people and kingdom of heaven here, there are 10 million men hoping to get away with dishonoring the gift from God. 
What’s in their hearts?
Right now, fear. There have been suicides.
What should be in our hearts? To be a place for healing for broken marriages. To be a place for healing for wounded women. AND be a place for healing for broken men.
• Kentucky Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’ refusal to issue marriage licenses. Seems to me to be an abuse of power and hypocrisy to boot. She was elected to serve the public -- Christian, atheist, Muslim, straight, Jewish, divorced, everybody -- not just people she approves of.
My hope is to live in society as a representative of Jesus
who lifts up the oppressed & disenfranchised,
who brings hope and healing

• Jesus goes on with a mysterious statement about eunuchs in verse 12. I don’t fully know what to make of it, and I’ll leave it up to you to consider possibilities about the different kinds of eunuchs ("born that way," made that way by others, chose that way) but will ask what is in Jesus’ heart in v. 12? Lifting up the disenfranchised & bringing dignity and wholeness of life.
• I think you can see what I see is at the crux of today’s reading, it’s that Jesus’ heart is for the oppressed, Jesus’ hope for marriage is that the gift of God would be honored and treasured, and Jesus’ hope for the disciples is that they (we) would be witnesses and bearers of the saving love and grace of God, whatever the situation may be.
• What’s in your heart?

• Hymn 2149 Living For Jesus

Matthew 19:1-15                 (CEB)                         08/30/15
19 When Jesus finished saying these things, he left Galilee and came to the area of Judea on the east side of the Jordan. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them. Some Pharisees came to him. In order to test him, they said, “Does the Law allow a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?”
Jesus answered, “Haven’t you read that at the beginning the creator made them male and female?[Gen 1;27] And God said, ‘Because of this a man should leave his father and mother and be joined together with his wife, and the two will be one flesh.’[Gen 2:24] So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, humans must not pull apart what God has put together.”
The Pharisees said to him, “Then why did Moses command us to give a divorce certificate and divorce her?[Deut 24:1]
Jesus replied, “Moses allowed you to divorce your wives because your hearts are unyielding. But it wasn’t that way from the beginning. I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
10 His disciples said to him, “If that’s the way things are between a man and his wife, then it’s better not to marry.”
11 He replied, “Not everybody can accept this teaching, but only those who have received the ability to accept it. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been eunuchs from birth. And there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by other people. And there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs because of the kingdom of heaven. Those who can accept it should accept it.”

13 Some people brought children to Jesus so that he would place his hands on them and pray. But the disciples scolded them. 14 “Allow the children to come to me,” Jesus said. “Don’t forbid them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these children.”
15 Then he blessed the children and went away from there.

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