The passage for today’s reading is full of “woes,” as Jesus says repeatedly, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees…woe to you hypocrites…woe to you blind guides…”
Jesus’ point is that those who are supposed to be teachers and guides often are blind to the truth! Bishops and pastors, for example, who teach other than the truth contained in Holy Scripture may be blind guides, the blind leading the blind—astray! The problem is not that we have religious leaders—bishops, pastors, ministers. The problem arises when such leaders embrace false teaching.
For example, our Lord challenges the religious leaders of his day asking, “for which is greater—the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred?” Without a doubt, it is possible to value just the gold, and to neglect the temple of God, where the Lord God almighty descended to meet His people and live among them. In our day, the highest priority is often the church building, rather than the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, which makes the altar and pulpit, indeed the church building, sacred! We are, then, blind fools! When we come to hear and to receive the Word of God incarnate, we have our eyes open and welcome the Word by faith.
Which is why, by the way, the Christian community can worship anywhere, anytime. What is needed is the incarnate Jesus Christ who comes to us in Word and Sacrament—the environment, then, is made sacred (set apart) by His presence, not by the expensive wood, or glass or precious metals. The Christian church is wherever the Word is—and the people gathered around it—regardless the location or surroundings!
The Church can gather in a home, in a school’s multi-purpose room, in a community building or in a cathedral!
Lord Jesus Christ, you promised to be with us where two or three are gathered in your name. Stir my heart so that I will always be one of those two or three! Amen.
Prepared by David Wendel, North American Lutheran Church