Matthew 22:15-46

Then the Pharisees met together to plot how to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested. 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. Now tell us what you think about this: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

But Jesus knew their evil motives. “You hypocrites!” he said. “Why are you trying to trap me? Here, show me the coin used for the tax.” When they handed him a Roman coin, he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

Well, then,” he said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.

His reply amazed them, and they went away.

That same day Jesus was approached by some Sadducees—religious leaders who say there is no resurrection from the dead. They posed this question: “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.’ Well, suppose there were seven brothers. The oldest one married and then died without children, so his brother married the widow. But the second brother also died, and the third brother married her. This continued with all seven of them. Last of all, the woman also died. So tell us, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her.”

Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God. 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. 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, ‘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.

When the crowds heard him, they were astounded at his teaching.

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.

Then, surrounded by the Pharisees, Jesus asked them a question: “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?

They replied, “He is the son of David.”

Jesus responded, “Then why does David, speaking under the inspiration of the Spirit, call the Messiah ‘my Lord’? For David said, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies beneath your feet.’ Since David called the Messiah ‘my Lord,’ how can the Messiah be his son?

No one could answer him. And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.

There is a definite atmosphere of finality here.  Jesus is through with the religious leaders’ endless and stupid attempts at putting Him “in His place.”  He’s at the end of the time allotted for exposing the damage made by their compromise and religious pride.

If you are one that can’t stomach hearing Jesus yell abuses and cracking the whip of righteousness, you probably are also one that has dispensed with the ugliness of the Cross and the anguish over your sin and the need for a bloody, universe-upsetting intervention.  I have the feeling if those people make it to the Marriage Feast, they will try to enroll as “conscientious objectors” when we line up behind Jesus to carry out His judgment on a world that rejected such a salvation.

At least that’s the way they would feel now.  That will change soon.  When and if they look into His eyes and sit at that Table with Him and the redeemed, they will be filled completely with Him.  Not only filled to overflowing with His soft, warm, comforting love but with the extent of the flaming fire of His love, which on behalf of all those “little ones led astray” into bondage to sin, will consume those who did the deed.

Yes, it is hard to embrace both the grace and the judgment of God at the same time.  That is because we have been duped into believing that they are two diametrically opposite things.  That is a pervasive lie, whispered into the ear of every soul who opens God’s Book.  And the flesh, lusting after its own gratification, too cheaply succumbs and even conspires with the lie.  The lie is the Ying & Yang, the idea that the equal forces of dark and light are somehow two sides at war yet in harmony.  Yes, I know, spirit warring against the flesh and flesh against the spirit, but they are hardly equals or somehow hanging in balances that we control.

Darkness is the absence of light!  Cold is the absence of heat!  Love is the absence of self-deifying isolation!  God is Love!  And that love is righteous and perfect.  Jesus has overcome the darkness because He is The Light!  There is no darkness in Him and no Shadow of turning!  So, what’s the problem?  Why something like the Cross?

The problem is that God wanted fellowship, to enlarge His family of members wholly given to each other, distinct but one, never taking without giving, never giving without receiving, always completely for each other.  To have that, He had to make human beings – not just beings.  Human.  He didn’t just call into existence A BEING.  Angels are that sort.  There is service and loyalty and a unique extension of God’s thoughts and actions.  But with angels it seems there is no broad understanding nor capacity for love, contrary to what the self-deifying entertainment business would like to think.

Part of the nature of our Creator is how He deals with having infinite options.  What will He choose and why would He choose that from the infinite choices that God, being infinite, would have?  Exactly!  So, to have fellowship, to become one, with more members of the family, they would have to have choices.  They would have to be made in His image, after His nature.

Character is what is created by choices and Jesus is the perfect manifestation of the character of God, His nature seen in human action.  His character is flawless with a perfect track record.  Choose to discover and choose what He chooses and you are the gift for which He created the universe to be given.

I would like to elaborate on that and talk about the difference between what God’s choices makes Him and what Satan’s choices makes him.  Later.  But first… Right there’s the first clue to discovering what kind of character you are.  But even without intellectually putting that in order, you can make the choice right now.  The Holy Spirit is present to nudge us toward choosing to personally know God and you, because of all that God has done, just say, “OK.”  It is that action, that choice, that lets the Holy Spirit begin to show you, teach you and graft you into the God who so loved His creation, “that He sent His Son, so that” if you choose to base your life on that love, you won’t perish but you will have life bubbling up out of your reconstituted heart from this moment into time passed the vanishing point.

Sound like a good deal?  Give God what belongs to God and don’t make the mistake of making conclusions without knowing the Scriptures.

Faith, what a simple thing.  Just choose!