Summary: Jesus boils down the Gospel to the basics
I was looking through some old college papers and I came across an essay that I had written about Macbeth, the Shakespeare play. I’ve never been a big fan of Shakespeare. I simply cannot understand the way that he wrote, I don’t get the language and the terms and so I can’t follow the story line. I think two people are fighting and they’re really in love, it’s too confusing. I don’t have the patience to read all of the foot notes that go with a Shakespeare play so I just keep plowing ahead even if I don’t understand it. That’s what I had done with Macbeth. So, I had to write an essay on some aspect of the story and I remember sitting with my notebook in front of me and not having a clue what to write. I couldn’t explain something that I hadn’t understood. So, I did what any college student would have done, I got the cliff notes. In a few short minutes, I got the boiled down version of the story. I got the gist of it and I was able to complete the work that I had to do with a better understanding of the plot and the characters.
I could have used some cliff notes this week. I was putting together a swing set for Catherine’s birthday. I’ve shared with you some of my inadequacies as a handy man builder kind of guy. I do alright, and the finished product usually looks nice but I don’t normally go about things in what one might call “the right way.” One of the troubles I have with building things is that I cannot read plans. I built a table a few months ago. I drew the pictures in my head, bought the wood and had no trouble putting it together because I knew before I started what I was trying to accomplish, it had been my idea. This swing set was different. I could see the final product but I didn’t understand the plans at all, I couldn’t understand the directions and the steps to putting this thing together and a swing set is not something that you want to have a whole bunch of pieces left over with.. So, I did what every good man should learn how to do, I yelled for my wife. She read the directions, marked the places I was supposed to drill, laid out the right hardware for me, and gave me a brief and simple overview of what I was doing. She boiled it down to the essentials and within a few minutes, I was done. Don’t you wish we could do that with everything in life? Don’t you wish we could take all of those things that are confusing, difficult to understand, or just overwhelming because of the sheer volume of what we have to digest, take them and boil them down to what’s important, to the basics. Something that we can grasp and understand and when we can understand something, we’re more likely to accomplish what we need to and to do it well.
Do you ever wish that you could do that with the Bible. It would be great to get all of the vast Truth and Wisdom of God’s word summed up for us in a few sentences. What’s the central idea, what’s the most important thing for me to be doing in my life to grow in a relationship with God and to be fulfilling His purposes in my life? If we could go beyond memorizing and knowing Scripture, which are essential things, to truly understanding the heart of the message, we would be much more effective in our walk. As we turn back to the book of Matthew and continue to look at Christ’s teaching during Passion Week, we see that He does just this for us in another run in with the Pharisees. Jesus has just finished telling three stories, the parables of the 2 Sons, the Tenants, and the Wedding Feast. Each of these stories pointed out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and we’re told that they are actively looking for a way to arrest Him but they are scared of the people. So they begin to look for ways to discredit him publicly, to trick him into saying something that would prove that he was not a prophet at all and was certainly not the Son of God.