November 6, 2008 - Thursday of the 24th Week after Trinity

Daily Lectionary: Jeremiah 8:18-9:12; Matthew 23:13-29

But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. (Matthew 23:13)

We operate every day with this idea “You reap what you sow.” If you want to make a lot of money, you must work hard and apply yourself. If you want to do well in school, you simply must learn your lessons, do your homework and, by all means, study hard. You reap what you sow.

This principle is also true in ways that are harmful to you. For instance, if you decide to abuse your body with alcohol and drugs, there is a price you'll pay, ranging from a hangover to an untimely death. Yes, it is true, you reap what you sow.

Now, don't get me wrong. We need discipline; we all need the law to maintain social order. It is good to please your parents, your teachers and your employer. The problem comes when we begin to think that in doing good, (or not doing the negative things I mentioned) we deserve something special from God. We begin to think that we can be good enough and in so doing God will be pleased with us. Here Jesus has a very stern word of warning....”WOE TO YOU.”

Just like the scribes and the Pharisees, we are nothing but hypocrites. And if the truth be told, we don't come close to how the scribes and Pharisees acted and performed. To this Jesus also said, “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20) For if we believe that we can, in and of ourselves, please God or that God should look at our deeds apart from Christ as deserving his goodness or some special treatment....WOE TO YOU.” For believing this you will indeed get what you deserve.....eternal death.

Christ came into the world to save sinners. What God demanded from man, Jesus put Himself in our place to satisfy God's demands. Rejoice this day to hear God’s Law and repent of your sin. Rejoice this day that the King of kings, immortal, invisible, the only God to whom all honor and glory belong forever and ever, comes to you today and says, “I’ve died and risen for you, and you are forgiven for all of your sins.”

Lord God, heavenly Father, since we cannot stand before You relying on anything we have done, help us trust in Your abiding grace and live according to Your Word; 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 19th Sunday after Pentecost)