Matthew 22 b

Matthew 22B:  The Contest Continues

The  Herodians and Sadducces continue in their efforts to entangle, entrap and discredit Jesus.  These are proud men who cannot believe this carpenter’s son from the backwater town of Nazareth is any match for their intelligence and knowledge.  For Jesus to outwit them or be able to answer their clever theological questions was unthinkable for them. They could not acknowledge that Christ was the wisdom and power of God. Yet one thing strikes me in this encounter- they ask and they receive; they seek and they find ,knock and it is opened to them.  But they cannot see the truth standing before them. How often have we asked God, sought Him and His delivery, His wisdom- knocked until our knuckles were raw- but seemingly there is no response. Or was there? And we did not see the answer because it was not the one we were seeking.  The answer arrived and we did not like the answer- so we assumed we had not heard.  Mary and Martha certainly knew the disappointment of sending word to the Lord their brother was sick and the Lord did not even bother to send a reply. Never answered their prayer- unless you consider no reply an answer.   When he finally showed up- it was too late in their opinion and their disappointment and sadness was obvious. Had not the Lord healed strangers simply because he had compassion on them?  The key is found in the words Jesus speaks to Martha prior to calling Lazarus from the grave: “Did I not say to you- that if you believe you would see the glory of God ?”   I like it when I can see it and then believe it, don’t you?  But without faith, it is impossible to please God.( Hebrews 11:6)

Now who are these Herodians? The Herodians and the Pharisees were not usually on the same side. The Pharisees hated the rule of foreign power, the Herodians advocated the supremacy of Caesar. These natural enemies joined forces to try and ensnare the Lord.  As is often said- ‘ politics makes strange bedfellows.’

The Herodians come with flattery and deceit- who is the devil called?  The Deceiver, the Adversary. Their question is designed to  capture him in an offense that will allow him to be arrested.  “ Tell us, therefore, what do you think?  Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”  They thought they had him cornered either way he answered. If Jesus said it is lawful-those who hated the oppression of Roman rule would denounce Jesus as a traitor to their cause.  If Jesus said it is not lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, they would accuse him of rebellion against the Roman government and have him arrested.

Jesus knows the heart of men. He perceived their wickedness. Flattery and deceit are designed to blind one to the truth. His first response, puts them on alert.  “ Why do you test ( tempt) me, you hypocrites? Many today call Jesus a great teacher- and their flattery is used to draw others in and then overthrow the gospel with their science and clever intellectual arguments.

Jesus asked to see the tax money, a coin. Looking at the coin, Jesus asked “ whose image and inscription is this on this coin? Caesar, they answer.  Then Jesus said to them: “ render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”  They could do nothing with his answer to accuse him one way or the other. This was money that by its own description was money minted by the government.  It was not Temple money- or Jewish money it was the money of the Roman Empire and they were its subjects. We must not forget God has His throne and we must not allow earthly kingdoms and governments to make us traitors to our heavenly kingdom. However, in Romans 13, Paul writes: “ Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities . For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.”  ( That certainly gives us something to think about, doesn’t it?  Don’t like the government that is over you- God has appointed them.)

“The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection came to Him and asked Him…”  This group, also a group that did not agree with the Pharisees, who did not believe in the resurrection, join forces to discredit Jesus.  Jesus had silenced the Pharisees and the Herodians, now with their cleverly designed question they seek to  entangle him with a scenario the have put together about a woman whose husband dies and she marries his brother, and he dies and she marries the next brother, until this has occurred seven times. Who will be her husband in the resurrection?

Jesus sums up their twofold error in his response. “ You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.”   Paul describes their state in his letter to the church in Corinth: “ The man without the Spirit of God does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually  discerned.” For the believer has the Spirit of God by whom spiritual truths are revealed. We have a supernatural God that natural man cannot understand without possessing the Holy Spirit.  “ We( believers) have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.” ( I Cor. 2)

Jesus then states as a fact- “ At the resurrection…” , which implies there will be one. The resurrection is true because Jesus said it, and also because he did it.  He was resurrected from the dead. His death was testified to by his enemies, who declared him dead.  It was also witnessed by over 500 witnesses who saw Jesus in his resurrected body.

Jesus then explains in heaven there will neither marry or be given in marriage.  ( My belief is we will not marry or be given in marriage for we will all be in a marriage to the Son of God, who loved us and gave Himself for us.) Jesus says we will be like angels. The Sadducees did not believe in angels either. How are we like angels- we are perfect, we are immortal beings in changed bodies.  I believe we will also be asexual. There will be no need for new births in heaven- for we will never die. Sex was a gift given by God to be enjoyed in a marriage between a man and woman on earth in our earthly bodies, this was how we populated the earth and continued mankind.  These things are mysteries to us, not completely explained- but we know it will be wonderful beyond anything we can imagine- what God has prepared for us. I will know my wife, my loved ones, my family for Jesus calls Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by their names they were known by on earth.

Jesus then makes a statement:  “ … have you not read what God said to you..” ? God’s Word is God speaking directly to you.  Then since these men have chosen to quote Moses regarding marriage, Jesus quotes from Exodus 3, where Moses encounters God at the burning bush. God said: “ I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”  The Jesus adds his own comment- “God is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living.”  When Moses encountered God at the burning bush, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had long been dead and buried.  Yet God speaks of them in the present tense-that these men were still living.   Our souls are immortal- our physical bodies are not. Do not suppose until the Great Resurrection- those believers who have died physically are  in a state of non-existence- they are present with the Lord, alive and awaiting a glorified body. Notice they are identified as the same persons who lived- they are called by their names.  Did not God say He would never desert us or forsake us?  In fact God said neither death nor life cannot separate us from His love.  God did not say  I was the God of these men- He states I am the God of these men- who are with me, alive and in my presence.

Now the Pharisees, Chief Priest and elders, Sadducces and Herodians have all been put to shame by this man named Jesus, a carpenter’s son from Nazareth or so they thought that was all he was.

Jesus had put them all to silence. Then a lawyer steps forth to ask a question, also tempting or testing Jesus. Since this man was put forth after they all gathered together, it must be they had decided they would see if Jesus would make one commandment greater than all others and they could attack him for not honoring the rest of their laws.  Ever since the Sermon on the Mount, these men believed Jesus was teaching their man-made laws were inferior, incorrect and a burden to the people. Here they attempt to find a way to trap him as not honoring and keeping the commandments.

The question is:  Teacher , which is the greatest commandment in the law? There hope was Jesus would answer in such a way they could attack him for not including the other laws as great or of lesser importance.  In his answer,  Jesus answers in such a way by telling what is the first and greatest commandment and the second which is like unto it.  In doing so- he has not excluded any law- but included all of them for all of them are based on the first and greatest commandment and the 2nd which is like unto it.  He said these are what all the Law and the Prophets rest on—they are the foundation upon which all rests, they are the spring from which all others flow.

The first and greatest is:  “ Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. And the second is like it: “ Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Man was created to love. We came out of the wombs of our mothers looking for love. The Bible tells us – ‘God is love.’ ( I John 4:16)  In that same chapter I John 4: 18 tell us:  “There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts our fear. We love him because He first loved us.”

Everyone is looking for love.  It does not matter what country you are from, what language you speak, or what your religious background may or may not be.  We are all looking for love. Do you know why?  Because God is love and God made us in His image.  The desire for love is woven into our DNA by our creator whose very nature is love.

Just as there is a universal quest for love – there is also a universal source for love.  Unfortunately we are prone to look for love in all the wrong places- deceived by the deceiver from the garden of long ago. Only God can satisfy this quest for love- for only God has the kind of love that satisfies. Agape love- unconditional love.

Thus we can see what the problem is and what the solution is. Herein lies the problem- there is a universal source of love found only in a personal relationship with our Creator God. It is a limitless unconditional source of love that can satisfy the whole world. What keeps the hand of supply away from the heart of need? The answers are varied-but all are a part of the deception of the enemy that attacks the Word of God.  But we must realize Jesus is also telling us – it is up to us to show this love for our neighbor and to love our neighbor as ourselves.   What was Jesus last commandment- ‘love one another as I have loved you. ‘   How did he love us?  Unconditionally and sacrificially.  God in fact- so loved us ( the world) He gave his only begotten son- that whosoever should believe in him would not perish but have everlasting life.

We are to show this love in word and deed. We are not to be hypocrites as James explains  in James 2, when we see one in need and say go, we wish you well – but do nothing about it.

This love God has for us- is shed abroad in our hearts when we are saved. This word carries the connotation of a flood like an overflowing river that keeps on giving. And Paul writes of this love in Ephesians 3:  “ …that you might grasp what is the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ, and to know this love which surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all fullness of God.”

Don’t let the enemy deceive you and turn your head with the things of the world. Ask God to help you grasp His love. Learn to give love away. You cannot save love- or hoard it in anyway. The more of God’s love we give away- the more God supplies   “ Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Now no response can be made to this answer, so finally Jesus asks a question of this group. “ What do you think about Christ?  Whose son is He? The son of David, they replied. He then said to them, “ How is that David speaking by the Spirit, calls him Lord? For he says, ‘ The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet. ‘ ( Psalm 110)  If then David calls him ‘Lord’ how can he be his son? No one could say a word in reply and  FROM THAT DAY ON NO ONE DARED TO ASK HIM A QUESTION.”

Did you get the question?  Jesus said if the Messiah was David’s son, how was it David by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit called Him- My Lord?  The Messiah must be more than a mere man. Especially since this Messiah would sit at the right hand of God and God would put all enemies under his feet.

Now we shake our heads in disbelief this people could not see the truth. Yet even the disciples who had been with him for over three years- did not understand until almost the end of their time with him on earth- he was the Son of the Living God.

We must remember- no one from the Old Testament times knew that God had a Son until Bethlehem.

Mary was confused- when visited by an angel to be told she would give birth to a son, who would be called the Son of the Most High.

They could not fully comprehend the truth of the prophecy of Isaiah which proclaimed:  “ for unto us a child is born to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. “

You see the world has not changed for there are men who are still trying to answer this question:  “ What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?
What do you think? Do you know the Truth?  If you do – the Truth will set you free.

Copyright © 2010 Linda Benthal
Last modified: 08/12/14