This lesson is the Lord's last encounter with the religious leaders. As usual they tried to trap him. The Pharisees used cleverly worded questions and even tried flattery hoping His answers would publicly discredit Him. The first question was, "Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?" - Matt. 22:15-17. They were really laying it on thick. They knew the Jews didn't like paying taxes to a corrupt government and if He said they should pay taxes it would discredit Him before the people. If He answered they should not pay the tax, He would be going against the Roman authorities.
Jesus knew their intent and was not flattered by their words. He said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.... Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?" - Matt. 22:18-20. They replied it was Caesar's so Jesus said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." - Matt. 22:21. They left amazed.
How are you being a good citizen to your government?Do you complain about your taxes
Do you try to get out of jury duty?
Do you obey laws put into place like speed limits?
How are you a good citizen to God?
Do you give tithes and offerings to God?
How are you serving Him?
We each owe our countries and governments many things, including respect for every law that does not require us to disobey God's law. We are citizens of heaven and also of an earthly country.
Then later the Sadducees thought they had a question that would definitely trap Jesus. The Sadducees were liberals. They were the wealthy governing class. The chief priests were Sadducees. They rejected a lot of the Pharisees beliefs especially the resurrection after death. They asked Jesus a question about marriage at the resurrection trying to show that resurrection is an impossibility. They said if a man dies, his brother must marry his widow as the Moses taught. Then if he has seven brothers and the same thing happened, who would be his wife at the resurrection? Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead - have you not read what God said to you, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead but of the living." - Matt. 22:29-32.
Are you in error because you choose not to know the Scriptures?Are you in error because you do not believe?
Are you in error because you choose not to know the power of God?
Are you in error because you choose to accept only parts of the Bible as true?
To be in error includes both wrong beliefs and straying from God's truths. Teachings not rooted in truth are not acceptable. To be in error is to be wrong or mistaken. The Sadducees considered only part of the Old Testament as true.
Do you see God as the God of the living?
If He is the God of the living, wouldn't He want to be involved in your life?
The doctrine of resurrection is foundational to our faith. If there is no resurrection, why are we here? We will be resurrected from our existing decaying body into a perfect heavenly body. This life is temporary. Because Jesus lives, we live. We will enter into an eternal life into His kingdom. It's a mystery, but we can trust God with all of it.
(They did not believe in the resurrection so they were "sad you see".) :)
Matthew 22:34-46 - The Greatest Commandments
After the Sadducees were silenced by Jesus, one of the Pharisees tested Jesus again by asking, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" - Matt. 22:36. Jesus answered, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it; Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hand on these two commandments." - Matt. 22:37-40.
What does it mean to love God with all your:heart? - to make Him the center of your life giving Him total access to your heart.
soul? - being in total submission to Him.
mind? - being in agreement with Him.
strength? - strength of physical body, focusing on Him, trusting Him and His truths, using the gifts and talents He has given you.
We please God when we recognize Him as above all others. It is impossible to love others without loving God first. It is impossible to love God and be indifferent to others. We are to love God first, others second, and ourselves last.
Jesus asked them, "What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?" - Matt. 22:41-42. They answered that He was the son of David. Jesus said, "How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him Lord?" - Matt. 22:43. The Jesus quoted Ps. 110:1 - "The Lord say to my Lord; Sit at my right Hand until I put your enemies under your feet." He then asked, "If then David calls him Lord, how can he be his son?" - Matt. 22:45. They could not say a word and did not ask Him any more questions.
Jesus was the Son of David by physical ancestry, but He was more than a mere descendant. He was his Lord by virtue of His deity.
Who is Christ to you?Is He your Lord?
Is He the center of your life?
When we love God totally with our whole being, it glorifies God, it permits us to love others, and it gives us joy. JOY - J = Jesus, O = Others, Y = Yourself and we must do it in that order.
Matthew 23:1-39 - Hypocrites!
Jesus told the crowds and His disciples to obey the Pharisees, because they sit in authority. They were to do everything the Pharisees told them to do, but not to do what they do or practice what they preach. Everything they did was for men to see. They were to humble themselves. "For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." - Matt. 23:12.
God put leaders over us. There are some that are bad and there are some that are good. We are to respect and obey them, because God put them in positions of authority. "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority...." - Heb. 13:17. We then must trust God and pray for them for His guidance and intervention. Then let God deal with the bad ones.
What is a hypocrite? The Scribes and Pharisees where hypocrites. They were telling others what to do, but not doing it themselves. They wanted to be seen as holy and respected, but didn't want to earn the respect. They did not teach God's forgiveness and grace. They only taught "do and don't". They didn't submit to God's authority. They lacked integrity. They were cruel and showed no sympathy. They lacked humility. They were proud of what they were and how they lived.
Does this sound like people in our churches today? Some go to church just to be seen and don't really know Jesus as Lord and Savior. Really, all of us are hypocrites in some ways. If we were perfect, we wouldn't need Jesus or the church.
How are you being a hypocrite?Do you practice what you preach?
Do you think you are perfect and don't need Jesus?
Jesus gave the religious leaders 8 woes. He called them hypocrites 8 times here and 13 times the book of Matthew. A Woe is an expression of judgment and sorrow or a morning over their sin.
Woe #1 - Matt. 23:13 - They shut up heaven to men. They should have led the people to God and to Jesus Himself. Instead they taught the way of salvation was by keeping the law and led the people to reject Jesus. They were preventing people from entering the kingdom of heaven.
Woe #2 - Matt. 23:14 - They devoured widows' houses and did lengthy prayers for show.
Woe #3 - Matt. 23:15 - They won a convert and then made him twice the sons of hell as themselves.
Woe #4 - Matt. 23:16-22 - They were blind guides. They were blinded by the things of this world like power, status, self glory. They made distinctions between swearing of oaths. They had their priorities upside down.
Woe #5 - Matt. 23:23-24 - They gave exactly a tenth and focused on material things without the meaning behind them, but left out justice, mercy and faithfulness.
Woe #6 - Matt. 23:25-26 - They were concerned how they looked on the outside and were dirty on the inside with pride and selfishness.
Woe #7 - Matt. 23:27-28 - They appeared to be righteous on the outside, but on inside you were full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
Woe #8 - Matt. 23:29-32 - They were self-righteous and patted themselves on the back saying they would not have killed the prophets of their forefathers, but at the same time they wanted to kill Jesus.
Jesus used strong words in verse 33. He called them "snakes" and "vipers" and asked them how would they escape and that guilt and judgment would come to them. They were more like the sons of the devil than of Abraham. They could have escaped, if they believed in Jesus.
How are you like a Pharisee?Do you make the same mistakes as the Pharisees?
Do you make a show when worshipping?
How are you showing others mercy?
Are your priorities upside down?
In Matt. 23:37-38 Jesus laments for Jerusalem. In Luke 19:41 Jesus wept as He looked over Jerusalem. He thought about its coming judgment and wanted to protect the people from the terrible judgment for those who would reject Him. He wanted to protect and nourish His people like a mother bird protects her young chicks. Jesus was willing to rescue them, but they were not willing to let Him.
"For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'" - Matt. 23:39. When Jesus comes again, the Jewish people will welcome Him as the Messiah. This is hope for the Jews. When He returns the Jewish nation will recognize Him and be saved. (Rom. 11:26)
Will you call Him Messiah?How real is your worship of Jesus?
Will you ask Him to deepen your love of Him?
Jesus' life on earth is coming to an end. He is in His last week before the cross. Join me next time for more of His teachings through scriptures in Matthew.