An Early Look at Next Week’s Lectionary Passage (Reformation Sunday)
“What do you think about the Christ?” Matthew 22:42
How would Jesus respond to that question, a question he asked (in the days before his betrayal, arrest, and execution), were he to pose it to the Pharisees of our day and time? Would he take the course of Judas Iscariot and betray himself? Would he still allow himself to be betrayed?
Or might he do something different and betray the institution we have built in his name? Would Jesus plan the downfall of Christianity in all the many forms that surround us today? Would that be the next modern reformation?
In order to be faithful to Christ must we demand a moment of betrayal to the institution created in his name? Doesn’t betrayal pave the way for redemption? Christianity is always at war with the images it creates of itself. Whether it’s Judas’ betrayal or Christ’s betrayal of contemporary Christianity we live inside a paradox created by this tension. To paraphrase Christ’s question, “What do we think about ourselves?”
Like Luther, must we betray Christianity if we are to be devoted to Christ? I’m starting to think so. The systems we have created to worship him and his identity is mutually exclusive. One must be betrayed if we are to remain faithful to the other. This is the fundamental question at the heart of Reformation Sunday.