Easter With Hindsight: In this world you get law. In the next you get justice
Jeshua spent much of his time answering questions but then occasionally asked them of the people around him. Luke records such an occasion after he arrived in the Temple.
‘How can messiah be the son of David?’ he asked. ‘David himself said in the book of Psalms: “The Lord says to the Lord of mine: ‘Sit here at my right hand until I place your enemies underneath your feet.” David refers to messiah as “Lord of mine”, Jeshua points out. So how can messiah be David’s son?
Many around Jeshua have struggled to grasp his vision of God’s kingdom. They had immense difficulty thinking outside the cultural stereotypes that most of them have inherited. They see messiah as a new king on David’s throne and ruling a free Judea. To Jeshua messiah is much more than just a human king. In the Psalm (now psalm 110, written by David) King David himself calls messiah “Lord”. There is only one power bigger than Israel’s king, Jeshua implies: God himself. Jeshua is referring to one of the passages in the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible, that messiah will in reality be the embodiment of God himself.
Throughout his ministry Jeshua has warned those around him that their vision of messiah, as a human ruling a small country at the end of the Mediterranean, is simply inadequate. They also face great danger if they don’t turn away from the violent nationalism that has simultaneously replaced their true calling as God’s people. Approaching the climax of his public ministry Jeshua tries to get them to see God’s bigger picture. Messiah won’t just rule in Jerusalem. He will share God’s own throne over all creation.
Jeshua compares messiah’s greatness with the vision of greatness presented by the powerful people his followers see about them. He points to the scribes, powerful and wealthy lawyers in Jerusalem. For the purposes of comparison in his remarks, they represent the powerful elite.
‘Watch out for the scribes who go about in long robes and enjoy being greeted in the market place, sitting in the best seats in the synagogues and taking the top tables at dinners.’ Here Jeshua is adding to his earlier comparisons with the ‘rulers’ who ‘lord it over others’.
Clearly these people think they’re important, he points out. Then he reminds his listeners of what they all know of many such people. ‘They gobble up widow’s houses and make long prayers they don’t mean’. The lawyers were known to use their legal skills to exploit the poor and the defenceless and in Jeshua’s day, few were weaker or more defenceless than a widow. Their religious conviction is mostly for show. He points out one scribe, making a public show of his donation to the Temple, one that such a rich man would barely notice, with a widow who quietly gives all she had.
The powerful may have lost any awareness of God. If they have a vision for Israel it will be for their own self-aggrandisement and gratification. God sees that, Jeshua points out to his people. God will also see that both the scribe and the widow will get justice.