From Head to Heart

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S (Scripture): Matthew 7:28 When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were amazed at his teaching 29 because he was teaching them like someone with authority and not like their legal experts.

O (Observation): Jesus finishes up the Sermon on the Mount. The crowd reacts to Jesus’ message (beginning in Matthew 5). The impact of this message on the people is this:

“He was teaching them like someone with authority and not like their legal experts.”

Jesus speaks in a way that he is not just parroting what God desires. Instead, Jesus fully embodies God’s will and message as he speaks to the crowd.

A (Application): So often, Christians will parrot and repeat messages. This is a good first step in faith formation. One must know the basics of the faith.

Many Lutherans I know that are 50+ years of age recall that Confirmation consisted of much memorization. Some had to memorize the entire Small Catechism, some had to remember parts of it. Or Scripture.

What they are supposed to do with that memorization was up to them.

The move from the head to the heart is the most difficult distance to travel. That is what Jesus has done. He has moved our faith toward its original intent: a law and a Spirit that dwells in our hearts. This is why Jesus seemed to teach with authority, because the Law and Spirit reside in his heart.

As I help our young people prepare for a life in the Christian faith, we focus less on memorization and more on learning how to embody the faith and how to discern what the Spirit is saying. We talk about where we have seen God in our lesson, or in our lives. We share that “kairos” moment and ask one another to give their feedback into the other’s kairos. We discern, together, what God is saying for that person and what God would have that person do. The individual takes the lead, but the surrounding community gives feedback to help the individual decide what God is saying.

Jesus taught with authority, because he and God are one and because Jesus knows the Law in his heart. May we know such union with God that we might speak with gracious and humble authority in our own lives…that we might help others to know our peace and our desire to seek peace and justice throughout the earth.

P (Prayer): God, move our faith from our heads to our hearts. Amen.

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What did you say?

  S (Scripture): Matthew 7:28 When Jesus finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed by his teaching, 29 because he taught them like one who had authority, not like their experts in the law.

O (Observation): Jesus has a way with words.  Like…what he says is AUHTORITATIVE.  What does that mean?  

Jesus is at the end of the Sermon on the Mount.  At the end of a teaching, a good rabbi would cite all of his sources from which he got his interpretation.   In this case, Jesus does not refer to any prior teachings. Instead, his words stand on their own. 

Jesus’ interpretation of Scripture and tradition and all of the things of life supersedes what came before him, including teachings from scribes, priests, and others.  

That is NOT to say that we simply “throw out” what was written or said prior to Jesus.  This means that we look at the Scriptures and traditions through the lens of Jesus’ saying and actions.  Jesus reveals meaning and understanding scriptures and life situations, and he does so with authority.  

A (Application):  “I do not think that word means what you think it means.”   This line is spoken by the swordsman Inigo Montoya in the 1987 romantic comedy The Princess Bride.   This quote is his retort to the villain’s constant use of the word “inconceivable.”

We have our preconceived ideas about faith, life, Scripture, religion, and on and on.  We are typically shaped by our parents/family, friends, colleagues, social media, and more.   The people of Jesus’ day were also influenced by religions and social pressures and more.  

In today’s text, Jesus shows his authoritative teachings and starts to re-shape long-held interpretations and traditions of the Church (the people of the Jewish faith).  

Jesus does his own “Inigo Montoya” thing in this Sermon (Matthew 5-7) by reclaiming ideas about how to love God and love neighbor, and what it means to express faith.  He points out customs and traditions and says, “I do not think you interpret that the way it is meant.”  And he lays out his understanding and sets the tone for living out one’s faith. 

Re-read Matthew 5-7.   See if this devotion holds water.   If so, think about your own life and what Jesus needs to re-interpret for you and for your faith life.  What do you sense?   What have you discovered in this process?

P (Prayer):  Lord, you entice us with a teaching and a love that goes beyond our understanding and re-shapes us in ways we never saw coming.  For this, and for your grace, we give you thanks. Amen.