Matthew – God’s Purposes
Have you ever watched the game show, Jeopardy? People gamble what they have on hand to gain more by getting the right answer by giving the right question that fits the answer on the board.
I am reminded of Jeopardy, smiling, as I read our next passages of those pesky Pharisees out to trap Jesus, Son of God, with theological questions. The Sadducees join in the fun and games (seriously, only a game to them) to try to trap Jesus. How wise of Jesus to answer all their questions with….more questions…trapping them in their own game! So “Sad-you-see”! (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)
Matthew 22, NLT
Taxes for Caesar
15 Then the Pharisees met together to plot how to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested. 16 They sent some of their disciples, along with the supporters of Herod, to meet with him. “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You teach the way of God truthfully. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. 17 Now tell us what you think about this: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
18 But Jesus knew their evil motives. “You hypocrites!” he said. “Why are you trying to trap me? 19 Here, show me the coin used for the tax.” When they handed him a Roman coin, 20 he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?”
21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.
“Well, then,” he said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”
22 His reply amazed them, and they went away.
Discussion about Resurrection
23 That same day Jesus was approached by some Sadducees—religious leaders who say there is no resurrection from the dead. They posed this question: 24 “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies without children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will carry on the brother’s name.’25 Well, suppose there were seven brothers. The oldest one married and then died without children, so his brother married the widow. 26 But the second brother also died, and the third brother married her. This continued with all seven of them. 27 Last of all, the woman also died. 28 So tell us, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her.”
29 Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God. 30 For when the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. In this respect they will be like the angels in heaven.
31 “But now, as to whether there will be a resurrection of the dead—haven’t you ever read about this in the Scriptures? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said,32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ So he is the God of the living, not the dead.”
33 When the crowds heard him, they were astounded at his teaching.
The Most Important Commandment
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. 35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”
37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Whose Son Is the Messiah?
41 Then, surrounded by the Pharisees, Jesus asked them a question: 42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”
They replied, “He is the son of David.”
43 Jesus responded, “Then why does David, speaking under the inspiration of the Spirit, call the Messiah ‘my Lord’? For David said,
44 ‘The Lord said to my Lord,
Sit in the place of honor at my right hand
until I humble your enemies beneath your feet.’
45 Since David called the Messiah ‘my Lord,’ how can the Messiah be his son?”
46 No one could answer him. And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.
NO MORE QUESTIONS – GAME OVER…FOR NOW
After all the theological questioning, Jesus gives us the key to live God’s way. Love God. Love Others. What a revolutionary thought that leaves all theologians in the dust of their volumes of writings. Love God with all that is in us, mind, heart and soul. Love others like Jesus loves us with unconditional, full of mercy and grace, love.
Friends, if we just worked on those two commandments to perfect our love for God and each other on this earth, we will be following Jesus in the right way. We won’t murder if we love. We won’t get divorces if we love. We won’t envy or be jealous if we love. Yes, indeed, ALL the other commandments begin and end with love God, love others.
“…and the greatest of these is love”, says Paul to the Corinthians who struggle to leave their idols to follow God completely.
I Corinthians 13: 11-13, NLT:
“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”
THIS is the center of our theology. Love God. Love Others.
Yes, Alex, I’ll take Jesus…giving Him all I’ve got.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for reminding us that You are not complicated. Mankind tries to make you and what you say heard to understand, but what you want most is for us to love you back and to love each other. Keep us all focused on just that today and help us see the results of this glorious thinking…your way. May all we do be driven by your love.
In Jesus Name, Amen