Thursday, March 9, 2017

Four Questions - Part 1 - Matthew 22:15-32

In this section of Matthew 22 we see nothing but entrapment. 3 groups tried to trick Jesus, by asking Him a tough question they thought would bring Him down or get Him to contradict the Old Testament. But His answers to these questions left them speechless and astonished. Then…when they were done…Jesus asked a question of His own. I’m actually going to split this up into two different posts. Today we’re going to look at the political question the Herodians asked and the doctrinal question the Sadducees asked. Next week we’ll talk about the Pharisees ethical question and then the question Jesus asked that actually turned the tables on them.

The answers we find to these 4 questions are truths that will feed our spirits. A couple days before Jesus died, His enemies tried to entrap Him with these tough prepared questions. They are furious because so many are following Jesus since He claims to be God. They want to take Him down!

When verse 15 talks about the Pharisees wanting to trap Jesus, Matthew actually used a hunting term. Think of it like setting a trap for an animal. They are stalking Jesus like prey as if they were on a wild hunt. Their weapons are loaded, and so are their questions. They THINK He won’t be able to answer these questions, but they’re about to learn a lesson from the all-knowing Messiah. So here we go. Let’s take a look at…

QUESTION 1 – DO WE HAVE TO PAY TAXES?

Matthew tells us that the Pharisees sent the Herodians to ask this question. Now if you study out history, you’ll see that these two groups had almost hatred for each other…but on this day, they combined forces to attack Jesus and His message. This still happens today…doesn’t it?

Keep in mind that the Jews were in captivity…living under the rule of the Roman Empire. The people were bitter about this and when they paid their taxes to Caesar it was a constant reminder that they weren’t free. The Pharisees were the Jewish leaders, so they despised paying taxes. But the Herodians were loyal to the Roman Empire. They were led by King Herod, who got his authority from Rome. So this was a very controversial question designed to put Jesus on the hot seat...to give Him a no win situation…so they thought.

Verse 18 tells us that Jesus saw right through their plans. “But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me?”

He saw an opportunity not only to stop them in their tracks, but to teach them a timeless truth. What Jesus ends up teaching is that we as Christians live in two different worlds at the same time. If you’re saved, you’re a citizen of heaven but as a human we live on the earth as a member of the human race.

Listen folks…Jesus recognized the authority of Rome…whether it was fair and pure or not. Now, I’m sorry to have to tell you that Jesus says we have to pay our taxes! Jesus said we have to give to this world the things that belong to it and give to God what belongs to Him. Because we are His children and made in His image, we are obligated to submit ourselves to Him as our ultimate authority.

Jesus turned the tables on them, answering their question and giving them a truth that could change their lives if they would listen!

Now folks…I will clarify by saying this. The Bible says there’s one instance where we should not obey the laws of man, and that’s when those laws conflict with God’s laws. The book of Daniel gives us a couple of great examples of this with the Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego and then Daniel himself. Then…in the book of Acts, we see that the Apostles are told to stop preaching the Gospel. We find their response in Acts 5:29…“Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!”

Listen folks…it doesn’t matter that our society and even some churches condone things like homosexuality and abortion, God still says it’s wrong and that should settle it for us. Now there may come a time when laws are passed that make it illegal to make those statements publically…calling it hate speech or discrimination. If that happens, I will be in the positions of having to choose who I obey. My prayer is that I will be like Peter and commit to obeying God first and foremost.

So that’s the first question… Do you have to pay taxes?? Unfortunately…the answer is yes. Next this morning let’s look at…

QUESTION 2 – WHOSE WIFE IS SHE?

Look with me again at verses 23-28, “That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. Teacher, they said, Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”

Now…the Sadducees were a wealthy, elitist group. They believed that when you died, you were dead. They were very logical and taught that since there was no proof of the resurrection, there was not a reason to believe it…and if the Bible isn’t logical in some point, they would always choose logic over the Bible. You know there are many today who say that where science disagrees with the Bible in some point they will choose science over it. But time and time again the Bible has been proven true. When human science eventually catches up with what God already knows, they find out the Bible has been right all along!

So, the Sadducees always gave the Pharisees a hard time. They only believed in the law, the first 5 books of the Bible, written by Moses, and they always challenged the Pharisees to prove the resurrection from those books. And…as I’ve shared with you so many times now…the Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead, life after death, angels or heaven. This why they were sad...you see?

They always brought up this silly question because the Pharisees never had a good answer for it, so they figured Jesus wouldn’t have an answer either. Let’s read on in Matthew 22 and see how Jesus not only answered their question but also addressed the issue of their unbelief concerning the resurrection of the dead…

Verses 29-32, “Jesus replied, You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

Listen folks…we need to understand clearly what the Bible teaches. Jesus addressed the issue of their error in understanding the Scripture. Essentially He said, “Look…you don’t know the Bible or the power of God.” He then explained to them how things were going to be different in the next life.

Can you imagine being a member of this holier-than-thou…ultra-religious group and having someone tell you that you’re clueless? Isn’t that what Jesus did here? Not only did he tell them they were wrong about their understanding of marriage in heaven, He told them they were dead wrong about the resurrection.

I’m so glad we serve a risen Savior and that He is the God of the living and not the dead. Aren’t you?? Listen folks…the same power of God that raised Jesus from the dead and will raise us from the dead is the same power that will raise us to a new level of living in heaven that we won’t understand until we’re there.

Jesus answered their question, dealt with their unbelief and again they are speechless…

Listen folks…for Christians, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord! Aren’t you so glad for that promise from Scripture?? Did you know that not everyone believes in heaven as a place of eternal reward, and most people…even those who claim to be Christians…don’t believe in hell as a place of eternal punishment? But you know the Bible teaches that everyone will believe in both when they die.

We need to understand that death is not destruction, but separation. The question is…where will you be separated to? My hope and my prayer is that you know Him as your personal Savior and that you’ll be separated to that group who gets to spend all of eternity in heaven. If you don’t have that personal, individual relationship with Him, please let me introduce you to Jesus today.

Folks…it’s dangerous to argue with God. He sees right through our arguments and all our excuses. The reality is when God speaks to your heart about something and you delay or think about why or how that won’t work…you’re arguing with your Heavenly Father who knows what’s best for you!

Will we believe God or not?! He is the final authority.