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ENTRAPMENT! 3 groups sought to entangle the Lord Jesus, and each asked Him a tough question they thought would bring Him down. But His answers left them speechless and astonished. Then Jesus posed a question of His own.
The Herodians asked a political question:
The Sadducees asked a doctrinal question:
The Pharisees asked an ethical question:
Then Jesus asked a personal question that turned the tables on them:
The answers to these 4 questions are chunks of meaty truth that will feed our spirits. And yet, it will take us 2 messages today to cover these 4 questions...2 this morning and 2 tonite. So, raise your hand if it is your honest intention to get the whole message by coming back tonite, or listening online if nothing else. Ok, you all who raised your hands will be dismissed at noon and the rest will need to stay afterward for part 2!
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 as He claims to be God. They want to take Him down!
v. 15 ‘entangle’ is a hunting term meaning to trap an animal...they are stalking their prey as if on a wild hunt. Their guns are loaded, and so are their questions. They THINK He won’t be able to answer these questions, but they are about to learn about His omniscience. Usually we don’t care for a ‘know it all’ because, obviously, they don’t really know it all, but this One does!
v. 17 The Herodians were sent by the Pharisees to ask this question. These 2 groups hated one another, but they combined efforts to attack Christianity, and this still happens today.
Palestine was an occupied nation, living under the steel heel of the Roman Empire, so the people were bitter over being dominated. When they paid their taxes to Caesar it was a reminder that they were not free. The Pharisees were Jewish leaders, thus 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. This was a very controversial question designed to put Jesus on the horns of a dilemma...a no win situation, they thought.
v. 18-19 Jesus saw through their plans. He saw an opportunity not only to stop their mouths cold, but to teach a timeless truth.
v. 20-21 The Lord is teaching that believers live in 2 different worlds at the same time. If you are saved you are a citizen of heaven, but in the flesh we walk on the earth. So we have dual citizenship, if you will.
Ill.—man worked for the census and went to a very back woods house to count a family. It was in very poor, run down condition. A woman answered the door and replied that she and her husband had 10 children, but only 9 lived there. He asked where the other child lived, and she said he was at Harvard. Looking at their home and the other children he was surprised and asked her to clarify, really, he’s studying at Harvard? No, she said, they’re studying him!
Jesus recognized the authority of Rome, whether it was fair and pure or not. I’m sorry to have to report that Jesus says to us to pay our taxes! Why? In His illustration, Christ says because Caesar’s image is stamped upon it.
And in just the same way we are created in the image of God...His image is stamped upon us as His children, and we have a moral obligation to submit ourselves to Him as our ultimate authority. And I say today, don’t get saved just to keep out of hell, rather, give your life to God because it’s the right thing to do to return your life to its rightful owner!
Jesus has turned the tables on them, foiling their question, and giving them a truth in turn that could change their lives!
Balance: the Bible does say there’s one instance where we should not obey the laws of our land, and that’s when those laws conflict w/ God’s laws. “We ought to obey God rather than men.” In the book of Daniel it says a law was established making it illegal to pray, but Daniel prayed anyway. In Acts it became unlawful to preach in the name of Jesus, but the apostles preached anyway, no matter the cost.
Joke—difference between illegal and unlawful...unlawful is against the law, ‘ill eagle’ is a sick bird!
And it matters not today if our land endorses homosexual marriage or abortion, God still says it’s wrong, and for us that should be the end of it! And some in Congress today are trying to pass laws to keep me from saying what I just said, calling it hate speech and discrimination, and if they pass such laws they will put me in a position of having to choose whom I should obey. Pray for me that I will always preach the truth no matter the cost, even if it means being jailed, and if I am, please send cookies!
v. 23 The Sadducees were a wealthy, aristocratic party. They said when you’re dead, you’re dead, so don’t worry about it. They were very logical, and said since there’s no proof, they won’t believe it, and if the Bible isn’t logical in some point, they will always choose logic over the Bible. And many today 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 in the end, when eventually science catches up w/ what the Word has said all along!
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 the Pentateuch. These Sadducees didn’t believe in life after death, angels, heaven...this why they were sad...you see?
v. 24-28 They always brought up this silly question because the Pharisees never had a good answer for it, so they figured neither will Jesus. [basis of this in Deut. 25, the law of Levirate marriage, designed to keep property in the family name and possession.]
Eventually these brothers should have started getting suspicious of this woman’s cooking!
v. 29-30 Not that we become angels, but are like them in this respect of marriage, we are married only to the Lord.
Joke—guy told another man, I’m married to an angel, to which he replied, you’re lucky, my wife’s still living!
There will be no need for procreation, and the ultimate relationship will be with God as we are the bride of Christ, and the same power of God that raises us from the dead will raise us to a new level of living we don’t yet understand!
The Lord has answered their question and again they are speechless, but He doesn’t stop there. He wants to deal with a bigger issue now.
v. 31-32 This is potent! Jesus is quoting one of the books of Moses now...
When God said I AM [present tense] the God of these 3 patriarchs, they had been dead for many centuries, but He is clarifying that they aren’t really dead, they are alive, and He is still their God...still their great I AM, because they still AM too! He didn’t say I WAS their God, but I AM!
For Christians, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord! For all people, death is not annihilation, but separation. Where will you be separated unto?
v. 33 ‘astonished’ means they were speechless, jaws dropped, motionless like stones! It’s dangerous to argue with God. Entrapment simply won’t work. He sees right thru our rationalizations and all our excuses. When God speaks to your heart about something and you delay or think about why not or how that won’t work you are arguing with your Creator who knows what’s best for you! We grieve the Holy Spirit of God when we don’t respond as He calls unto us.
It’s even more dangerous to speculate and disagree with what God says about the afterlife. Not everyone believes in heaven, and most who do don’t believe in hell. But the Bible teaches that 100% believe in both when they die. Will we believe God or not?! He is the final authority.
This morning we saw a political question and a doctrinal question, now an ethical question...
v. 36 It was a point of contention in those days between the Pharisees and the scribes about which commandments were the heaviest or weightiest. They found 613 commandments in their OT. They divided them into 2 categories, heavy and light. Still today some practice “Christianity Lite!” As if God is more serious about some of His commands than others that don’t matter so much.
This goes to show how you can be religious and still devoid of spiritual understanding.
3 fallacies about this approach:
· They reduced a relationship w/ God to a keeping of a list of rules...it’s so much more than that! Religion starts on the outside and tries to work its way in. But Christianity is within and is real. You can be inhibited by rules if you want to, but I’d rather be inhabited by the rule maker, Who then helps me to obey them because I want to!
· There is no such thing as weightier commandments. If God says anything then it is important. We call some sins little white lies or minor infractions, but God sees all sins the same. We say someone has fallen into deep sin and everyone assumes it’s drunkenness or adultery or the like. But God looks at someone here tonite who has stopped tithing and says, you’ve fallen into deep sin! They argue with their spouse and even tho’ everyone does that, God sees it just as serious as if they beat them up! [My wife beats me up every morning, but once in a while I’m first and I wake up grouchy!!]
· Thought they could get to heaven by keeping the law, but we know none can live good enough, and the law was just a teacher to show us our sinfulness and hopeless state unless we look to the cross!
So, this question about the law and which commandments are the most serious was a controversial one, and there should be no answer to it, they thought. [they are a little slow catching on, aren’t they?!]
v. 37-40 All 613 commandments boil down to one word: LOVE, for God and for people. This reveals the heart behind our actions, the right motive for right living.
Ill.—if the Christian life were a door you could walk thru, then the hinges that door swings on are love for God and love for others.
Ill.—My kids can do wrong in a number of ways, but always they boil down to a lack of love for someone, whether God, mom, a friend, or one another!
Many people ask the pastor a lot of questions about what I call peripheral issues: what about this music / clothing / movie / store / product...but they all boil down to the same root question, how much do you love God? Once you decide if God is #1 in your life, you find many other questions begin to answer themselves. This is the hub of the wheel, and everything else is just spokes.
A mission statement for the pastor: My job is to help people fall in love with God!
10 commandments for falling in love with God:
[by John Maxwell]
1. Take personal responsibility for being intimate with God.
Ill.—wife complained as her husband drove her down the road, “we aren’t as close as we used to be...we used to sit right beside each other, and now we’re so distant!” He said, “who moved?”
The ball is in your court. If you aren’t as close to Him as you used to be, guess who moved...it wasn’t Him! You are to initiate it, He already has made the first move...now if you draw nigh to God He will draw nigh to you!
“Backslide” – what does that word mean? If you’ve ever been closer to God than you are now, you are backslidden!
2. Spend time with God.
It’s impossible to be intimate with anyone if you don’t spend time together. If all you get from God’s Word this week is what you get today, you are in trouble! Don’t drive to God once a week...have a WALK with God! Have daily devotions. Raise your hand if you are a morning person, I want to see who you are because I hate you! [just kidding] Whenever you can, make time, and even better, carry that attitude of communion w/ God with you all day long.
3. Avoid things that dull your spiritual sensitivity.
Susanna Wesley said, “Anything that dulls our desire for God, to us it is sin.” Just like looking thru a dirty window dims our vision, cares of this world will cloud our eyesight for God. One of the best things for us is for us to have less. Then we’ll hear more from God when He’s not competing w/ so much else.
4. Seek to please God.
An ‘other’ mindset. Remember when you were dating? How did you court them and please them? By putting them first! But now selfishness has crept in. It’s ok to look out for #1, so long as God stays in the #1 slot! Don’t be Christian who is always looking for what you can get out of it, but for what you can give. Don’t seek God just for His blessings...seek to be a blessing to Him! Many churches today appeal to our baser instinct that it’s all about us. “This is Your Day” / “A Better Life For You, Now!” Prosperity preaching is doing a great damage to our world, but the same can happen here...it’s all what you are looking for in God.
Should our prayers just be like this – “Dear God, thank you for this food, help this to be a good day.” Or how about this – “Help me to love you more, to hate sin, and to serve you and others.”
He is the Creator, we are the creation. We were made to serve Him, not Him to serve us.
5. Reflect on what God is doing in your life.
This is a higher perspective, not muddied by the here and now...it’s stopping and seeing the big picture.
Ill.—we take things for granted, don’t we? I realized this week I take my wife for granted so much. I called an old friend from college I hadn’t talked to in 8 years. He’s still single, and when I asked him what he’s looking for he said, “well, someone like your wife” [I was thinking, why?!] he continued, “so sweet...and there’s just no one like her.” I was reminded of the fact that he’s right. I can complain or focus on a fault easily if I want to, but if I want to look for something good, it’s there in such a way I cannot miss it!
In the same way I can wonder why something goes wrong in my life or my day, and if I choose I can wallow in a dirty puddle like that, but if I choose I can look to God and soar on wings of eagles!
6. Spend time with Christians who model love for God.
We become like those we spend time with.
Ill.—what kind of wife will my daughter one day be? One like her mom. How will my son treat his wife? A lot like I treat mine.
Intimacy with God is more caught than taught. Look to those who model it well, and learn from them!
7. Participate in a forum that encourages love for God and others.
Everyone should go to Sunday school, every man should come to the men’s breakfast and every lady should be at the Women of Grace meetings. We can help one another thru fellowship, we’re not in this alone. Hand in hand we form a strong chain!
8. Practice love in the home.
Some can’t say I love you, and some can say it but don’t show it. But how we learn to love God is by loving those around us. Practice intimacy w/ a person you can see, and you can transfer the same practice to God Who is invisible, but will appear more and more real before you as you do!
9. Always ask, “What would Jesus do?” in every situation.
This develops a God consciousness, realizing He’s there with you cheering you on as you make choices.
10. Understand real success in God’s eyes.
Real success is not found in ‘doing’ but in ‘being.’ Why don’t we spend real time w/ God? 2 reasons—we’re too lazy and we’re too busy.
Bumper stickers read, “The one who dies with the most toys wins.” But that’s not true at all. That one still dies and stands before God, and will have nothing left from this world.
v. 39 You can’t be right with God and wrong with people. I Pet. 3 indicates that if a man is not right w/ his wife that his prayers will be hindered. A very practical way to love God is to love others.
Jesus has already answered 3 tough questions, now He asks one of His own...
v. 41-46 [quoting Ps. 110:1, which is quoted at least 25 times in the NT] The question is how could the Messiah be the son of David and also the Lord of David? Your son can’t be your Lord!
The Pharisees agreed that the Lord would be both, but never understood how until now as Jesus points out that the Messiah would have to be from David’s lineage and yet would have to somehow be Divine.
Revelation 22:16 [Jesus said...]
v. 46 They didn’t answer because the only answer would be that the Messiah’s Father would have to be God, and His mother a human virgin, and they wouldn’t give Him the satisfaction, knowing it was they who were trapped in their own discussion.
This is the most important question any of us can be faced with, do we believe Jesus is the Son of God or not? Until then, it is we who are trapped in sin.
It’s the final week of Jesus’ earthly life and ministry, and the only other questions He will have brought to Him will be about the end times, which we will begin preaching next week. [chapters 24-25]
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