Today’s readings from Deuteronomy and Matthew speak to the consequences of entering into and keeping agreements in bad faith. The readings agree that the outcome of bad faith arrangements is death: both physical (Deut. 30:18) and spiritual (Matt. 5:22, 30).
Moses and Jesus challenge their hearers to acknowledge their bad faith arrangements and the things they do to compensate for or cover them up: their idols, their curses, their lawsuits, their certificates of divorce, and their oaths. Instead, they are to have a change of heart; to choose life (Deut. 30:19b) by living lives of integrity (c.f. Matt 5:37). In our own day, living in bad faith still leads to spiritual and sometimes even physical death.
Jesus himself died a physical and spiritual death (c.f. Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34, John 19:28) because of the bad faith of the human race and his own nation in particular. Jesus embodies Israel as a whole (c.f. Isaiah 49:3, Gal. 3:16) and thus he suffers under Moses’ curse, but lives again by the promised blessing of God. As members of Christ we can live in the hope of this same blessing, even while we still have to live out the consequences of the curse.
Preached by the Rev. Jake Dell on February 12, 2017 at Holy Trinity Church Inwood.