Death and Taxes

A reading for Wednesday, May 28, 2014: Matthew 22:41-46.

Ben Franklin once wrote "the only thing for certain in life is death and taxes." He was reflecting on the changing nature of all things. Franklin helped organize our representative form of government. It was Franklin's idea that the people should elect the House of Representatives. He was certain that this was the way things should be. And yet, writing a reflection about the his role and the issue he worked on, he finally acknowledged that all things were subject to change... that is except death and taxes.

The Pharisees were absolutely certain about one thing. They knew, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that the Messiah was the Son of David. The prophets said so. The Psalms said so. They may have had questions about other issues of faith, but clearly everybody knows that the Messiah was the Son of David. Everybody knows that for certain.

Like saving 15% on car insurance by calling you know who... everybody knows that.

But then Jesus proves that even in the certainty of this the Pharisees are overmatched by Jesus. They have been questioning Jesus from their position of authority. "What is the greatest commandment Jesus?" they asked. "Do you believe in resurrection Jesus?" There is an arrogance in their approach. They are certain that they are right and others, even Jesus, is wrong.

In response Jesus quotes the very Psalms they would quote to prove that even here they do not understand who the Messiah is and what the Messiah has come to do. "If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?” asks Jesus. Finally, the Pharisees are speechless. They do not have an answer. Jesus has fractured their certainty. They are finally humbled.

The point of the story is not just to make the Pharisees look bad. It is to illustrate our dependence (as well as the Pharisees who depend) on God and the mercy of Jesus Christ. The only real certainty... even beyond death and taxes... is the love of God in Jesus Christ. It is Christ who has the answers. It is Jesus our Lord who saves, and not our knowledge and never our certainty in our ability.

It's good to be confident in our faith so long as we recognize our only hope in an ever changing world is the absolute unchanging nature of the Lord Jesus Christ; who was and is and ever will be. A faithful approach is a humble one.

The only certainty in life beyond even death and taxes... is Jesus Christ our Lord.


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