Summary: This sermon considers several possible answers to the Pharisee’s question in Matthew 22:41, "What do you think of the Christ?" Here, I encourage the congregation to make up one’s mind on Christ’s identity.
“What do you think of the Christ?” Matthew 22: 41-46. By Matthew Everhard, originally delivered at Hudson Presbyterian Church October 27, 2002. Words 2117
Forensic science is now the perfect compliment to crime investigation. Recent advances in the art and science of forensic investigation has made many crimes, which would have been otherwise unsolvable, closed cases in a matter of weeks and months. Many times a trace amount of evidence, virtually undetectable to the human eye, have literally “fingerprinted” the convicted perpetrator as the only possible and legitimate suspect. At other times, an accused yet innocent person has been justified in the eyes of the law by the complete lack of forensic evidence tying them to the scene or situation of the crime in discussion.
Does it not amaze you that a fleck of paint from an automobile yields not only a physical description, but the make and model, perhaps even the year of a specific vehicle? A fiber of carpet, invisible to the naked eye, yet as readable as a novel to a high-powered microscope, tells investigators whether or not a perpetrator has in fact walked in a certain room or spent time in a certain building. A tooth provides a positive identification for a body. A femur bone from the leg tells us a persons, height, weight, sex and perhaps even race.
Even now as much of our country walks through their daily events with an inordinate amount of suspicion and fear as the Sniper serial killer lurks undetected in the Washington DC area, we applaud the work of investigators as they ascertain within hours that a spent bullet, misshaped and deformed from the high speed collision with a victim, has been propelled from the same unique barrel of a specific gun. And we take refuge that, as with hundreds of criminals in the past, this one too will be chased down by forensic science and a jail cell waits closer than he thinks.
In our text this morning, from Matthew 22, we find that another investigation is under way. This investigation is not a probe into a murder case however. The charges are far more serious. Though the official charge of blasphemy has not yet been declared, the facts are already being gathered, and a case is already being built against Jesus of Nazareth, a carpenter.
One group after another takes their shot at Him, prodding Him with questions, hoping for the slightest fault line in His answers. Verse 34, “Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.” Ladies and Gentleman of the Jury the essence of the mystery is summarized in verse 42: What do you think of the Christ? Whose son is He?
The Pharisee’s question also is deflected by an answer so superb in it’s reason, so fool-proof in it’s logic that only a divine could have responded as well. They should have known that questioning Him about the Law was His strong suit: He is after all, its author.
And now it is time for Jesus to ask them a question, the same question that I ask you to answer yourselves this morning: What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is He?
I bring first before you all, the eyewitnesses. Some testify that He is a vagrant, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners” they babble (Matthew 11. 18,19). The slander of others is far worse, “He has a demon” they emphatically announce. Or even more despicable yet, “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons that this fellow drives out demons!”
But not all of the eyewitnesses speak woefully of Him. Some are well intentioned, yet misguided. “Some say that (He is) John the Baptist, others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life” (Luke 9.18ff). They too are wrong. Granted He is a prophet, but never before has a prophet walked on water. He far exceeds them all in His majesty and preeminence.
And then we have the testimony of Peter, a simple fisherman who lived and walked with Christ during His earthly ministry, saw miracles unfold before his eyes; limbs restored to health as if being created again from Heaven. Sure this eyewitness has tarnished his own credibility—he denied his master three times. A perjurer when questioned about this Jesus. He even had an assault and battery suit filed against him when he struck Malchus the servant of the high priest with his sword, but the charges were dropped when Jesus healed the man as quickly as Peter sliced him (Luke 22.47ff). Peter’s legal deposition regarding the identity of Jesus of Nazareth reads as follows: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16.16).