March 17

Matthew 22-23

We are in the Christ Stream today. Jesus teaches about the Wedding Feast and answers the “questions” of the Pharisees and Sadducees. We are reading from the New International Reader’s Version this week.

In the narrative today, the leaders in Jerusalem get a scathing reply one after another for posing questions to Jesus.  But these questions are different. We’ve all been in classes where a teacher encourages questions. I’ve heard, “the only dumb question is the one that you don’t ask.” We got it, right? Well the questions posed to Jesus are not the questions that one wishes to be answered. The pathetic and perhaps humorous part of the questions they pose to Jesus is they don’t realize that He can see right through their “questions.”  We may forget that a question usually indicates that someone is on a quest; a question to grow, search, learn, be enlightened. The questions thrown at Jesus today reveal that those asking questions are not on a quest to grow.  They want Jesus to be tripped up, to slip, to reveal a dubious character or a weak constitution (that he doesn’t have).  They are duplicitous characters.

22 – The wedding feast is a story directed at the people he is telling the story too!  No one has been given a better inside track to who God is.  These people were chosen first.  They are invited to proverbially dine with God and be in first tier seating … BUT they are preoccupied with things that have little to do with God.  Little do they know that God is about to blow the invitation wide open in less than two months at Pentecost.  This is fair prophetic warning.  We see it today, but they didn’t back then.
They ask about paying taxes to Caesar. (Remember they are not on a quest for answers!) If Jesus says yes to paying Caesar then he is an enemy of the locals and they would go tell the Temple leaders and guards. If he says no to paying Caesar then he is an enemy to Rome and the Pharisees would go tell the Centurion or some other Roman authority (like good little tattle-tales) and he would be in trouble with Rome … he might even be executed!  How could this question possibly backfire?! Well they are trying to trip Jesus and they become the dupes here.
Next the Sadducees ask a question about something they don’t even believe in.  Not smart. I think the best part is Jesus asserting to them “…you do not know the Scriptures. And you do not know the power of God.”  What a sorry state for a religious leader, a scholar, a “representative of God” to be in.
They ask about the greatest commandment. … as if they cared about any of them. It’s as innocuous as musing [with mower in hand], “uh gee, which blade of grass should I cut first?… duh”  Cut them all, Einstein!  If Jesus re-listed them, then they could pontificate about not having to obey the last three or something.  Remember! These clowns don’t want answers because they don’t have real questions, because they are not on a quest to know Jesus.  Their quest is to expunge Him.
Their last question and Jesus’ answer makes one’s skin crawl.  They again heard what they didn’t want to hear about who the Messiah is and then  ” … no one dared ask him anymore questions.”  ohhhhhhhhhh may-an
23 – Here is the last straw for the leaders who have been overcharging and controlling the people of Jerusalem, Judah, Israel for generations.  Jesus addresses the crowd about what the Pharisees and Sadducees are really made of and He doesn’t care if they are listening in!  He calls them “phoney as cheap baloney” and more.  They are oppressors and showboats, those who block heaven, evangelists for hell itself, blind guides, fools, thieves, dead men (tombs!), a family of murderers, snakes, murderers yourselves guilty of “murder-one”…  What a sad state they have brought Jerusalem to; a place where the city can’t even be discipled or gathered or even taught anything.          Jesus was basically finishing his job this day in his teaching.  The Sadducees/Pharisees finished making their decision this same day that they were going to have him crucified.  But they hid this … for a couple more days.
“Lord, your insight, and judgments and assessments into what it is that we need to remedy is altogether fair and accurate.  May we be people with souls that run to you for redemption. Forgive us for running at you for anything else. We may have played games or ‘been the Pharisee’ in our lives but praises be this is overwith and you defend us and grant salvation.  Amen.”


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