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Matthew 22

June 19th, 2011 by Vic

Matthew 22

June 19, 2011

“The Foundation of Living is Love”


The Jewish religious leaders have been trying to discredit Jesus.  They tried to trick Him into answering a couple of the popular questions that divided people into different camps like, “Are gay marriages OK?  Are you part of the emergent church?  Should we pay taxes?”  Sometimes our either/or questions are really the wrong questions.


In the last chapter Jesus answered their question about His authority by telling them 2 parables.  The father who sent 2 sons to the field illustrated their disobedience of the Father.  In the second parable the owner of the vineyard expected some income from the tenants but the tenants killed His Son.


In this chapter the 3rd parable in this series tells about those who reject the invitation of the king to a great wedding feast.  This illustrates the Jewish leaders’ rejection of God’s grace and gift of the Holy Spirit.


In the Jewish culture it was common to send out a wedding invitation without an exact date set.  When all the preparations were completed, tables and chairs set up, the grass cut, the food all on site ready to prepare, then a summons was sent to alert the guests to the exact time of the wedding and dinner.


This parable is about the Jews who had the Word of God promising them ahead of time the coming of the Messiah and the joy His kingdom will bring.  John the Baptist preached that the kingdom of God was near.  Jesus preached that the kingdom of God has come.  Those with the first invitation are now ignoring the immediate summons to come and celebrate.  They refuse to come so the king invites everyone else to come celebrate the wedding of His Son.  Those who never expected an invitation, receive one.


God has invited us all to a life of joy in His presence.  The invitation is both an honor and a command.  When you hear the invitation, don’t ignore it and return to your routines.  Don’t assume it is a trick and someone is trying to make you look like a fool.  Don’t deny the reality of the announcement of a coming celebration.  Don’t let your occupation, your possessions, your plans, your position, or your hobbies cause you to reject God’s invitation.  God does not wink at rejection of His invitation.  There are consequences if your disobey God.


The king noticed (11) that one guest was not wearing wedding clothes.  The wedding garment is righteousness.  By faith in Jesus we are robed in His righteousness.  Revelation 19:8 calls the wedding garment our righteous deeds.


Some kings would provide garments for all their guests.  In the very beginning God made garments for Adam and Eve in the garden.  Ps 132:9 says, “May your priests be clothed with your righteousness; may your faithful people sing for joy.”  Is 61:10 says, “I delight greatly in the Lord… for He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness.  Gal 3:27 says, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”


This guest had apparently rejected the garment that was provided for him.  He did not have any excuse.  Did he think his clothes were better?  Was he like the women in Isaiah 4:1 who wanted to provide their own bread rather than accept the bread of life?  Those women wanted to provide their own clothes so they could have a good name, but they did not want any relationship.  Sardis (Rev 3:1) had a good name, but they were dead spiritually and had no relationship with God.  They were wearing the wrong garments.



Now 3 different groups of religious leaders respond to these 3 parables with 3 questions.  The first group is Pharisee students and the Herodians.  They come to Jesus with flattery.  The Herodians are liberal Jews who aligned themselves with Rome.  The Pharisees were the fundamentalists who kept the letter of the Law.  These groups were usually enemies.


Be careful of flattery.  Their complementary words are designed to have Jesus speak boldly and maybe incriminate Himself.  If Jesus is no respecter of wealth, position, or power, maybe He’ll be critical of the emperor’s taxation.  Taxes are always a hot button in discussions that divide people.


The Romans had a ground tax: 1/10 of the grain, 1/5 of the oil, 1/5 of the wine.  They also collected a 1% income tax and a head tax of 1 denarius annually.  In addition the Jews paid ½ shekel annually for a temple tax.  After the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. the Roman government tried to collect the temple tax.


This group of Pharisees and Herodians ask, “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”  The way the question is asked requires a yes or no answer.  Jesus replied, “Show Me the coin used for paying the tax.”  The denarius coin has Caesar’s image on it.  It must belong to Caesar.  “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”


Whose image is on your face?  Who do you belong to?  We should bear the image of God.  We have been sealed with the mark of the Holy Spirit.  However, we have dual citizenship.  Maybe more accurately we are citizens of the kingdom and have a work visa for this world.  1 Peter 2:13 says we are to submit to earthly leaders.  We are to obey and respect those whom God has placed over us.  We give to Caesar for the privileges which his rule gives us. However Christians must obey God first and foremost.  The Christian is honorable and must be a responsible citizen.  Christians also have been created with God’s image and we must give Him what belongs to Him.  That would be us!



Another group, the Sadducees, come to Jesus with insincere respect.  They quote the levirate law in Deut 25:5-6.  If a man dies without children his younger brother is to marry the widow and have children for him.  The Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection, angels, or spirits so for them this is a hypothetical question that is intended to discredit any rational belief in a resurrection.  Their question assumes if there is life after death it is the same as this present life.  They assume if God raises the dead then He will restore us like we were before.  The Sadducees only believed the books of Moses were inspired by God and they did not find any evidence of the resurrection in these 5 books.


Jesus replied, “You do not know your Scriptures or the power of God.”  Our relationships with God and one another will be far greater than what you experience today in the sphere of time.  Contrary to your belief there are angels in heaven and our relationships will be similar to theirs.  We will have bodies, but not flesh and blood bodies.  We will not be just cloudy spirits floating around.


Think of all the silly questions people are asking because they don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God.


Jesus continues, “But about your main assumption that there is no resurrection, first let it be known that our God has the ability to raise the dead.  Then in your Scriptures (Ex 3:6) God tells Moses, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”  These men had been dead over 200 years.  God does not say, ‘I was the God of Abraham.’  He says, ‘I am the God of Abraham.’  The living God must be the God of the living.”  There is no record that the Sadducees had ever noticed this implicit evidence for the resurrection in their Scriptures.



The Herodians asked a question about taxes.  Strike one.  The Sadducees asked a question about the resurrection.  Strike two.  Now one of the Pharisees asked Jesus about the greatest commandment in the Law.  This is a lawyer asking a question about the Law.  There were hundreds of laws in their law library.  They ask, “What is the most important commandment that we should teach our children first?”


Jesus replied, “Loving God and loving each other.”  He quoted Deut 6:5.  These teachers were trying to keep all the laws, but they had no love relationship.  In the beginning we were created to live in relationship with God and one another.  If you want satisfaction and fulfillment in your life it begins by loving God with all you heart, soul, and mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  Our love of God is evidenced by reverence, commitment, and obedience.


There is a second commandment (Lev 19:18) linked to the first.  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love for our neighbor means acting towards them with their good, their well-being, and their fulfillment in mind.  Without these 2 commandments the Bible is sterile and life is sterile.


All the other commandments in the Law and the Prophets are (literally, “suspended from”) fulfilled and reach their ultimate goal as we orient our lives in love toward God and others.


As Americans we put life in compartments.  We have specialists for everything.  We put everything in its place.  We have trouble seeing the beauty in chaos and mosaic.  But we must learn to see God working in our chaos.  We must bring God with us in every compartment of our lives.  We cannot find fulfillment with a divided heart.  Do we love God with all our heart, soul, and mind?  Do we have a heart relationship with God?  How much does God love us?  We can only love Him because He first loved us.


How do I know that I really love God?  1 John 4:7-21


We must choose to love God.  We can show that we love God by loving others.  It is only when we love God that others become lovable.



Now Jesus asks the lawyers a question.  “Whose son is the Messiah?”  That’s an easy question and they answer, “David’s”.  Jesus continues, “How can David call Him Lord?”  This verse in Psalm 110:1 was considered a Messianic prophecy by the Jews.  This chapter is the most frequently quoted chapter in the OT.  The phrase “Speaking in the Spirit” assumes all Scripture is Spirit-inspired.


By Jewish standards, no parent would call a child, “my Lord”.  Respect of elders required that children call their father “lord” but the reverse was never proper.


In this verse the Lord God is inviting the Lord Messiah to sit at His right hand.  The Messiah is David’s Lord.  It is not enough to call him the Son of David.  David calls Him Lord.  Seeing the Messiah in terms of a kingly conquest is not adequate.  He is also the Son of God.  The Son of God will demonstrate the love of God on the cross.


Jesus had been called the Son of David by the children the crowds and the crippled.  He had avoided correcting them until now.  Here He teaches these lawyers that He must also be the Son of God.  Jesus’ question (45) is not a denial of the Messiah being David’s son but a demand for recognizing how Scripture itself teaches that the Messiah is more than David’s son.


These are some tough questions.  We have some tough questions to answer.  We have tough choices to make.  The biggest decision we must make is to decide who Jesus is.  Is He just a man?  Is He also the Son of the living God?  If you have decided that Jesus is who He claims to be then the next choice it to love God and love others.



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