Matthew – Fulfilled.
It happens with all of us. We humans have an inner desire to be right, no matter what the issue is before us. We want justice as we see it. We take a side and will say anything to prove our point. We will ask questions to start the discussion, but we really don’t want to listen to the answer to the other side. We are only asking questions to begin a debate. We are only asking questions so that we can rally our minds with what we are going to say next. Truth takes a holiday.
What is more dangerous is when the questions stop and there is silence and avoidance. You can bet an attack of another kind is in the making. Be wary when the questions stop. Debaters and power brokers will find another way to bring us down.
I think of this as I read the many questions asked of Jesus by the Pharisees and Sadducees. They are not seeking Truth. They are seeking to trap Jesus, hoping He will discredit Himself and His mission. They are like lawyers with no scruples, trained to go in for the “kill” with words. But Jesus, Truth as a Person, Son of God, counters with Kingdom thinking at every debate. He brings every debate to a close with the intent and truth of God’s Law.
Matthew 22, The Message
15-17 That’s when the Pharisees plotted a way to trap him into saying something damaging. They sent their disciples, with a few of Herod’s followers mixed in, to ask, “Teacher, we know you have integrity, teach the way of God accurately, are indifferent to popular opinion, and don’t pander to your students. So tell us honestly: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
18-19 Jesus knew they were up to no good. He said, “Why are you playing these games with me? Why are you trying to trap me? Do you have a coin? Let me see it.” They handed him a silver piece.
20 “This engraving—who does it look like? And whose name is on it?”
21 They said, “Caesar.”
“Then give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his.”
22 The Pharisees were speechless. They went off shaking their heads.
Marriage and Resurrection
23-28 That same day, Sadducees approached him. This is the party that denies any possibility of resurrection. They asked, “Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies childless, his brother is obligated to marry his widow and get her with child. Here’s a case where there were seven brothers. The first brother married and died, leaving no child, and his wife passed to his brother. The second brother also left her childless, then the third—and on and on, all seven. Eventually the wife died. Now here’s our question: At the resurrection, whose wife is she? She was a wife to each of them.”
29-33 Jesus answered, “You’re off base on two counts: You don’t know your Bibles, and you don’t know how God works. At the resurrection we’re beyond marriage. As with the angels, all our ecstasies and intimacies then will be with God. And regarding your speculation on whether the dead are raised or not, don’t you read your Bibles? The grammar is clear: God says, ‘I am—not was—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.’ The living God defines himself not as the God of dead men, but of the living.” Hearing this exchange the crowd was much impressed.
The Most Important Command
34-36 When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”
37-40 Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”
David’s Son and Master
41-42 As the Pharisees were regrouping, Jesus caught them off balance with his own test question: “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said, “David’s son.”
43-45 Jesus replied, “Well, if the Christ is David’s son, how do you explain that David, under inspiration, named Christ his ‘Master’?
God said to my Master,
“Sit here at my right hand
until I make your enemies your footstool.”
“Now if David calls him ‘Master,’ how can he at the same time be his son?”
46 That stumped them, literalists that they were. Unwilling to risk losing face again in one of these public verbal exchanges, they quit asking questions for good.
Going deeper, behind the scenes…
–The religious elite stopped asking questions for good. We know the rest of the story. When their questions, full of hatred and fear of losing power stop, a plot to kill comes next. Guess what? Jesus knows that and continues to fulfill what God sent Him to do…all for us. Take time to think about that! (Sigh)
–We are reminded of the opening of John’s gospel, “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God.” How ludicrous it seems to question God! Do we question God? Mm.
–Answer the questions asked with only God’s Word and not our opinion of God’s Word. This is hard. We must be alert for traps. We are not Jesus, with His wisdom, but He promised to be with us and give us the right words if we ask.
–When the questions stop, be alert for the attack of the evil one. God will be with us then, too.
Dear Heavenly Father,
It takes my breath away once more to think about all the battles You fought to bring Truth to the surface. Help us to stay focused on You and Your Truth and lean into Your wisdom, insight and understanding. Help us to avoid useless debates with those who seek to lift up themselves by bringing us down. Thank you for reminding us how that doesn’t work with You. Truth wins. Every time. Help us to pause, pray, and think before we speak. We love You with all our heart, mind and soul. Help us to see others like you see them and to love others like You love us.
In Jesus Name, Amen