Scripture: Matthew 23:13-22; 27:45-51
This Sunday we are continuing with our sermon series, Church and State. Last week we discussed how the destruction of Jerusalem was a pivotal moment in the lives of Jews everywhere. Not only was it devastating for the holiest city in Judaism to be destroyed, but the Jewish people were struggling with the reality that God had not intervened to help them defeat the Roman army. Many Jews believed that God was going to intervene with the Messiah, perform a miracle, and rescue Jerusalem from slaughter. But God didn’t intervene; God didn’t send the Messiah and God didn’t save them.
The Christian explanation for why God didn’t intervene is because the real Messiah had already come and gone. The true Messiah was here 40 years earlier, most people just weren’t paying attention. In this way, the second generation of Christians were able to shine a spotlight on Jesus and rebrand his messiahship. This rebranding effort provides a new opportunity for Christians to tell the Jews about Jesus being the Messiah.
But this new opportunity is met with some pretty heavy resistance from the Jewish community, and to understand why, I need to tell you about what happens in Judaism during the 10 years following the destruction of the Temple from 70-80 A.D. I’ve told you all in the past how during the first century, Judaism was a lot like Christianity in the sense that there were a lot of different denominations or sects of Judaism. The larger sects were the Sadducees, the Zealots, the Essenes, and the Pharisees. The destruction of Jerusalem effects each of these sects in different ways.
Our goal on Sunday is to talk about what happens to each of the sects and how they end up interacting with the Jews who believe in Jesus. Indeed, the gospel of Matthew provides us with some very important hints as to how heated the arguments become between the Jews who accept Jesus as the Messiah and those who reject Jesus’ messiahship. It’s going to be getting cold again over the weekend. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday in our warm Sanctuary!