Today's Reading: Matthew 22:15-22
“Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk.” (Matthew 22:15)
Like the Pharisees in today’s text we often try to test God. We want to catch God doing the things that He’s promised not to do; we want to find fault in God and thus redeem ourselves. By testing God to find His weakness we think we’ll be able to make it on our own. After all if God is weak, then maybe we’re not?
God has already been weak though, and it is impossible to entangle Him in His own words. Our Lord’s weakness is in Christ Jesus, for in Him the power of God was hidden in lowly human flesh. So weak was our Lord in His flesh that He was nailed to a cross and crucified for the sins of the world. This frailty though, as St. Paul reminds us, is the power of God. God’s power is in His crucified flesh and in His spilt blood.
When the Pharisees looked at Jesus they only saw weakness; they did not see God’s power. We who are baptized into Christ Jesus look to weakness and see that God makes weakness into greatness. He makes the weak strong in Him, because only He has power to do so. By ourselves we are sure to fail, for our weakness will only lead us to death.
Jesus turns everything on its head though. That’s the kind of God He is. He takes the weakness of flesh and makes it powerful. He takes death and uses it to deliver life. He takes perfection and crucifies it with sin, and then He takes sin and clothes it in perfection. Weakness outside of Christ Jesus, looks to this upside-down-ness of God and sees absurdity, but the baptized look to it and see forgiveness, life and salvation.
The weakness of God is at Calvary and also at the font. At the font, the Word of God is attached to everyday water and it delivers salvation. At the altar, the Word of God is attached to everyday bread and wine and delivers forgiveness. That’s weakness turned upside-down. Yet God uses the every day extra-ordinariness of water, bread, and wine to be the power of God delivered to you.
O Lord, absolve Your people from their offenses that from the bonds of our sins, which by reason of our frailty we have brought upon ourselves, we may be delivered by Your bountiful goodness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the 23rd Sunday after Trinity)