Who’s Really In Charge?

Moments later, Jesus asked some Pharisees this question (170): “Whose descendant is the Messiah?”

“He is King David’s descendant,” they answered, as Jesus knew they would.

So then Jesus asked, “Why, then, did the Spirit inspire David to refer to his descendant as his Master?

“You remember in the inspired scriptures where David wrote, ‘God said to my Master: Sit here at my right side until I put your enemies under your feet.’

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“So if David referred to the Messiah as his Master, how can the Messiah be David’s descendant?”

The Pharisees realized the only possible answer was to agree that Jesus himself was the descendant whom King David had called his Lord, a thousand years earlier.  But they refused to consider that Jesus really was who he claimed to be:  the promised Messiah, the son of God, & their true Master.

So the Pharisees gave Jesus no answer, and from that day on, they didn’t dare ask Jesus any more questions, about anything.

 

(170) Matthew 22:41-46, Mark 12:35-37, Luke 20:41-44

Love God By Loving People

One particular teacher of the law heard the discussion between Jesus & the Sadducees, and he realized that Jesus had given a good answer (169).  So then he asked Jesus another question: “Which commandment is the most important of all?”

Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’

The second most important commandment is this: ‘Show your love for God by going out of your way to love other people.'”

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The teacher of the law replied, “Well said! It is true that there is no other commandment more important than these two.  It is more important to obey these two commandments than to offer on the altar any animals or other sacrifices to God.”

In turn, Jesus commended the wisdom of this reply by telling the teacher of the law, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

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After this, none of those Sadducees or teachers of the law dared to ask Jesus any more questions.

 

(169) Matthew 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-34

Death Is Dead

Then some Sadducees, who believe that people will not rise from death, came to question Jesus (168).

They said, “Teacher, Moses wrote this law for us: ‘If a man dies and leaves a wife but no children, that man’s brother must marry the widow.  Then, any children of the brother & the widow are to be considered as heirs of the the dead man.’  So, we have a question for you about that.

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“Once there were seven brothers; the oldest got married and died without having children. Then the second one married his widow, but he also died before any children were born. The same thing happened to the third brother and then to the rest; all seven brothers died without having children. Last of all, the woman herself died.”

Then, with scarcely concealed contempt, they asked: “Since all seven had married her, whose wife will she be on the day when the dead rise to life?”

Jesus answered them, “Your question is all wrong, because you don’t understand the inspired scriptures, and you certainly don’t understand God’s power.

“The men and women of this age marry.  But the men and women who rise from death to live in the next age will not marry. Instead, they will all be like angels, who live only to praise & serve God.

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“Furthermore, Moses clearly shows that the dead do indeed rise to life. In the passage about the burning bush – which occurs over 400 years after Abraham, Isaac & Jacob had physically died – Moses refers to the Lord as still being ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’

“So, even though their bodies died, as far as God is concerned, these fathers of our faith are still alive!”

 

(168) Matthew 22:23-33, Mark 12:18-27, Luke 20:27-40

Trick & Trap

The Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem were still looking for an opportunity to entrap Jesus (167). They bribed some men to pretend they were sincere, and they sent them to trick Jesus with questions.  They hoped to trap Jesus in any answer that would allow them to bring  charges against him, so they could hand him over to the Roman governor for trial & execution.

These false friends came to Jesus & said, “Teacher, we know that what you say & teach is right. We know that you pay no attention to any man’s position, but teach everyone the straight truth about God’s will for man.

“Tell us, is it against our law for us to pay taxes to the Roman emperor, or not?”  Jesus saw through their trick and said to them, “Show me a silver coin. Whose face and name are these on it?” “The Roman Emperor’s,” they answered.

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Jesus replied, “So pay to the emperor what belongs to the emperor, and pay to God what belongs to God.”

Standing nearby, the Jewish religious leaders realized their treacherous attempt to trap Jesus had failed.  Along with everyone else, they were amazed by his answer, so they backed off.

 

(167) Matthew 22:15-22, Mark 12:13-17, Luke 20:20-26

In God’s Time, On God’s Terms

Jesus then told this story to all the people there — about how to enter the kingdom of heaven (166).

“Once there was a king who prepared a wedding feast for his son. He sent some servants to tell the invited guests that it was time for them to come to the feast, but they didn’t show up. So he sent other servants to the invited guests with this message: ‘The feast is ready now. All the meat & other dishes have been prepared & cooked, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast!’

“But the invited guests still paid no attention & went about their business.  One went to his farm, and another went to his store.  Some of the invited guests actually beat & killed the king’s messengers.  This infuriated the king, so he sent his soldiers to kill those murderers & burn down their entire city.

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“Then the king called his servants and said to them, ‘My wedding feast is ready, but the people I originally invited rejected my invitations. So go out & publicly invite to the feast all the people you can find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, good & bad alike.  Finally, the banquet hall was filled with people.

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“When the king went in to look at the guests, he saw a man who was not wearing the wedding clothes he had been provided. ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ the king asked him, but the man had no answer. So the king told the servants, ‘Tie this man up & throw him outside in the dark. Let him cry & grind his teeth in perpetual pain.'”

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Then Jesus concluded: “Many are called, but few are chosen.”

 

(166) Matthew 22:1-14

The Most Important Stone

Then Jesus said to the Jewish religious leaders, “Please consider another story (165).

“Once there was a landowner who planted a vineyard; he also put a fence around it, dug a hole for the wine press, & built a watchtower.

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“Then, after he had rented the vineyard to tenants, he went away on a trip.

“When the season came to harvest the grapes, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his share of the harvest. But the tenants beat one of his servants, killed another, and stoned another. When the landowner sent more servants, the tenants treated them the same way.

“So finally the landowner sent his son to collect.  ‘Surely they will respect my son,’ he thought. But the tenants actually killed the landowner’s son, thinking they could take ownership of the vineyard by force.

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“So, when the owner of the vineyard comes himself to collect, what do you suppose he’ll do to those tenants?” Jesus asked.

The teachers of the law & the Pharisees did not hesitate in their answer.  “He will certainly kill those evil men,” they said, “and rent the vineyard out to other tenants, who will give him his share of the harvest when it’s due.”

Then Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you ever read this in the inspired scriptures? ‘The stone which the builders rejected as worthless turned out to be the cornerstone — the most important stone of all. God has caused this to happen & it’s a marvelous thing to see!’

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“Everyone who falls on that cornerstone will be cut to pieces; and if that cornerstone falls on anyone, it will crush him to dust. Since you reject God by rejecting me, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you & given to people who will produce fruit for God.”

Because Jesus was challenging their authority openly, the chief priests & Pharisees wanted to arrest him right then & there. But they hesitated, because they were still concerned about the potential reaction of crowds, who considered Jesus to be a prophet.

 

(165) Matthew 21:33-46, Mark 12:1-12, Luke 20:9-19

Tax Collectors & Prostitutes

As Jesus was teaching in the temple in Jerusalem (164), the chief priests and the elders came to him and asked, “What right do you have to do these things you’ve been doing? And who gave you this right?”

Jesus replied, “Answer me one question, and I will tell you what right I have to do these things. Where did John’s right to baptize come from?  Was it from God or from man?”

The religious leaders talked among themselves: “If we say, ‘From God,’ he will say to us, ‘Then why didn’t you believe John?’  But if we say, ‘From man,’ the people will condemn us because they are all convinced that John was a prophet.”

So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” And he said to them, “Since you have not answered me, I will not answer you.

“But consider this.  Once there was a man who had two sons. He went to the older of them and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ ‘I can’t do it today,’ his son answered, but later that day he made the time & did the work.

“Meanwhile, the father went to the younger of them and said the same thing.  ‘Yes, sir, I’ll do it today’ his son answered, but he actually never got around to it. So which of the two sons did what his father wanted?” “The older one,” they answered immediately.

Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you see that tax collectors & prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you?

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“John the Baptizer showed you the right path to take into God’s kingdom, but you wouldn’t believe him.  Yet tax collectors & prostitutes did believe him.

“And even when you saw their faith, you refused to change your minds & believe!”

 

(164) Matthew 21:23-32, Mark 11:27-33, Luke 20:1-8