Questioning the King: Matthew 22:15-46
We are introduced to two groups in particular; the Pharisees and the Sadducees. They were opposite. The Pharisees sought to identify themselves over and against the Romans as a particularly Jewish nation with strict adherence to the Law of Moses, and with hopes of a Messiah who would deliver them from their oppressors. They believed in the afterlife, in a resurrection from the dead when they would be vindicated and their enemies would be conquered. The Sadducees were friendly with Rome – they were even called “Herodians” as those who supported Herod. They did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, and were not so zealous but saw their future hope in their acceptance into the Roman world. Yet these political foes became allies in order to deal with Jesus.
The Pharisees and Sadducees attempted to trap Jesus with three different public trials. First, they questioned Jesus about taxation – vexing for the Pharisees and vital for the Sadducees. Is it lawful according to God’s Word? At first it seems Jesus avoided the question. Rather, Jesus noted two equally important truths. Caesar is owed tax as the rightful earthly king, but the God who made all is owed all – he is the King of Kings. Second, the Sadducees used an absurd argument about marriage law and the afterlife to try and confound Jesus. Jesus not only refutes them, but he shows them how shallow their understanding of God’s law really is. Finally, together they challenged him by asking Jesus what is the greatest commandment. Jesus answers by summarizing the entire law - love God and love your neighbor. There are no peccadillos. His political foes were silenced.
Jesus then turned the tables. Knowing how they would respond, he asked them whose son the Messiah was. “David’s” was their reply and they fell into his trap. How could the Messiah be both David’s Son and David’s Lord? That is the conundrum. Jesus did not need to say it, he’d already said it, proved it, and would prove it again when he rose from the dead. Jesus - the one born in Bethlehem, hailed as the Son of David – he was the answer to the conundrum. He is the Christ, the Son of God, and Lord of all. What does that reality mean for you and me? It means we owe him our all, we find our hope in his glory, and obey his law.
Have you bowed to this king? - RG