by Christopher Harbin

What Really Matters
Christopher B. Harbin
Matthew 16:1-12

What do I have to lose? That is an all too common concern in regard to making decisions. Sometimes we don't get around to asking the question out loud, but it is still a big part of what goes into our decisions. How will this impact me? What do I expect out of this decision? What do I stand to gain by changing my path? What do I stand to lose if this does not work out? These were the very same issues the religious leaders of Jesus' day were grappling with in their confrontations with Jesus' message. They were concerned over the implications of accepting Jesus as Messiah.

Why not accept Jesus' teaching as being from God? This was not simply a theoretical discussion that would have no impact on their lives. It was not an issue that would make no difference to their patterns of living. They were not discussing some abstract theory with no practical impact upon their lives. It was not a discussion concerning which theory of Biblical inspiration is the more correct option. It was not a question of determining how long the creation took. It was not like the middle ages discussions of how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. It was a matter of determining whether or not to accept the validity of Jesus' teaching, especially when it's application would radically disrupt their understanding of God's will and purpose for their lives.

The Pharisees and Sadducees wanted some certainty upon which to base their response to Jesus. Accepting him would interfere with their politics. It would interfere with their classification of people into categories of worth. It would interfere with their notions of grace, mercy, forgiveness, sacrifice, and ritual purity. It would wreak havoc upon their legalistic approach to Biblical interpretation. It would render so many of their religious and cultural traditions worthless. It would disrupt the orderly basis that gave structure to their society, established expectati ...

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