My body is mine, no one’s but mine. That belief is at the heart of Western culture today.
It’s the heart of many culture clashes too:
Fair employment hinges on this issue. A slave driver says, ‘I own you, so you do as I say.” Unionized employees say, “I’ll present myself to work on condition of just pay, for agreed hours, in a safe setting.”
Abortion hinges on this issue. Pro-choice advocates say, “It’s my body; no one else decides.” Pro-life advocates say, “Not if you’re harming another life.”
Gay rights hinge on this issue. Is your body your own so you can do as you like? Or do you answer to an authority who decides what you can do with your body?
Gender identity hinges on this issue. Am I whatever I define myself to be? Or am I whatever body I was given?
Faith hinges on this issue. You will live differently if you believe “God owns my body” or “I own my body.” How you relate to God is at the heart of how you practice your faith.
So, this is a confronting claim:
1 Corinthians 6:19b–20 (NIV) You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies.
Kings and priests were both anointed in the OT. How does this conflict of powers play out in Matthews’ Gospel? It goes to the heart of his explanation of the cross.
Once you realize the gospel is the good news of the kingdom (with Jesus as the anointed king), you see how the latter part of Matthew’s Gospel is the conflict of the two positions anointed by God: high priesthood and kingship. Matthew 21–28 chronicles the outworking of that clash.
The dead came out of the tombs? What was Matthew saying?
Death feels so final. God did not intervene to prevent Jesus’ death. As I read Matthew, I feel I need time to absorb the enormity of this tragedy, to process the loss, to grieve at the injustice, to feel the familiar futility of a world where God’s anointed falls.
Matthew doesn’t pause. He hurtles on with disjointed details from a turbulent timeline, confusing our grief:
If God isn’t visible to our physical senses, so how do we see him?
Where do you look to find God?
This podcast (34 minutes) suggests the answer is relational — in the relationships that exist between Jesus, the Father, the Holy Spirit, the people who recognize Jesus’ authority, and the world that doesn’t.
What was unique was Jesus’ vision of how the kingdom of heaven would be restored to the earth. There was a whole history of getting off-track in the generations of Adam, Noah, Israel, and David. Then it completely fell apart when Babylon took the nation into captivity, destroying the symbols of God’s kingship: the house of God (with the ark that represented his throne), and the house of David (the anointed kings who that represented his reign).
So, how did Jesus envision the restoration of God’s reign? In part, his kingdom vision was shaped by the promises God gave through the prophets, particularly Zechariah.
After providing pastoral support to his followers, Jesus spoke plainly about the horrors of Jerusalem’s demise and the fall of the temple.
Jesus expected the Jerusalem temple to be destroyed? The temple hierarchy maybe, but the literal temple buildings? The disciples wondered if they’d heard him right.
Matthew went to great lengths to set the scene for this discourse. Arriving in Jerusalem as king, Jesus’ first act was overturning the temple (21:12-13). He called the leaders in God’s house bandits in a den — the phrase Jeremiah used to explain why God abandoned his house, leaving it (and the city) vulnerable to destruction (Jeremiah 7:11). Jesus says the second temple was occupied by murderers who were about to complete what their ancestors started — killing the one God sent them (23:32-36). What hope has a city that won’t heed the warnings of its king? (23:37)
Tragically, the second temple and its city sealed its fate (23:38). The time for warnings is over. Jesus walks away (24:1).
But the disciples can’t leave it at that. They call Jesus back, drawing his attention to the temple buildings (24:2). This is not a picture of country-hick tourists gawking at something they’ve never seen. Like Jesus, they’ve all been there every year for the festivals. Like Korah’s sons, they feel the attachment to this place: How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty (Psalm 84:1). This house is where their heavenly sovereign said he would dwell among them … to meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites (Exodus 25:8, 22).
Surely Jesus can’t just walk away like that, leaving the city to its fate?
Why did Jesus overthrow the temple? Was he angry to find traders in the courtyard? Did he expect to find people in quiet meditation and prayer instead? What was the temple, and what was Jesus doing there?
Imagine for a moment you’ve always had a fascination with Windsor Castle, its architecture and 39 generations of monarchs stretching all the way back to William the Conqueror. One day, all your dreams come true: you’re invited to a royal banquet at Windsor Castle.
You arrive, and you’re ushered in for the first time. You pause to breathe its air and smell the history. You wonder what stories these stones could tell. You’re so engrossed that you don’t realize when Queen Elizabeth enters to speak with her guests. A voice brings you back to the present, “Something greater than the Castle is here.” How would you feel if that voice was not one of her aides, but the monarch herself?
Jesus meant to embarrass his opponents with some of this audacious royal claims, but this one takes the cake:
Matthew 12 6 I tell you, something greater than the temple is here.