Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg

with Tom Fuller


Jesus vs. the Tag Team

Matthew 22:1-46

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Jesus finishes up with His parables against the religious leaders of Israel. By the time He is done they will be so fed up with Him that they will do anything to kill Him-falling nicely into the Lord\'s plans. First, the leaders tried to openly confront Jesus about his authority. He replied by making them make an account for their behavior and lack of repentance when God\'s prophet, John the Baptist, came on the scene. They wouldn\'t be cornered, more worried about public opinion than the truth.

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Jesus then aims three parables at them to show that they were fired as God\'s representatives for having messed up so much, taking their leadership as an opportunity for the flesh instead of pointing people to Yahweh. They thought they had a place in God\'s kingdom wired, but in fact Jesus points out that not only are they fired as leaders, they themselves will not be a part of God\'s kingdom.

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The leaders then try any way they can to get rid of this guy. Stage one is to trip Him up by what He says. These guys were masters of the Law and thought this simple carpenter from Nazareth would be no match for them. Silly leaders. The first tag team is the Sadducees, who did not believe in the supernatural and would receive nothing beyond the first five books of Moses. Then comes the Pharisees, who believed in the supernatural but also believed you pleased God by your own efforts at obeying the elder\'s commands.

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1)????? How to love God and live on earth (what does earth look like from heaven)

2)????? How to live on earth while looking to heaven (what does heaven look like from earth)

3)????? What is God\'s character?

4)????? Who is God\'s Messiah?

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We begin with another parable, this one designed to get the leaders to realize that being a Jew does not guarantee a place in God\'s kingdom.

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1 - 14

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This is a grand feast-oxen were used only for the wealthy dinner parties. Normally two invitations went out-one to the banquet, then a second telling those who had RSVP\'d that the dinner was now ready. In this parable, the leaders of Judaism had accepted the first invitation, but either passively or actively rejected the second call to come to the table. God sent out the first invitation by creating the people of God and by setting the scene for the coming Messiah. The second invitation is by the gospel. Not only did they refuse the second invitation, they refused a third. It\'s possible I suppose that the second invitation was John the Baptist and the third Jesus Himself.

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As Jesus prophesied about the fig tree withering, so too is the system of legalism and hypocrisy set up by the Pharisees and Sadducees doomed to destruction.

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When the first guests would not respond, the king sent out to bring in the good and the bad, the worthy and the unworthy. While unlikely in the context of a king throwing a banquet, God is gracious and calls both good and bad into his kingdom. The two things that matter are 1) answering the invitation and 2) becoming a wedding guest by dressing accordingly.

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The one person who shows up as they are could be seen as a person who considers themselves good as they are and have no need to become part of the wedding but still want the feast. You can\'t get into God\'s kingdom unless you \"fall on the rock\"-repent of the evil in you (even if you think you are good) and dress in wedding clothes. The clothes basically represent the righteousness of God in Christ.

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Eph 4:22-24 put off? your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through? deceitful desires, 23 and? to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on? the new self,? created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

The idea of \"many are called but few are chosen\" means that God invited Israel to enter into His kingdom, but it was only by the \"narrow way\" (Matt 7:13) of the Messiah Jesus. \"Chosen\" means \"elect.\" The Jews thought they were automatically \"elected\" but that only happens for those who cling to Jesus.

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15 - 22 How to love God and live on earth (what does earth look like from heaven)

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It\'s interesting that the Pharisees didn\'t come themselves but sent their \"disciples.\" Perhaps they 1) didn\'t want to really rub elbows with the Herodians, who they considered to be collaborators with the Romans, or perhaps they didn\'t think to waste their time-that this Jesus was no match for them so they\'ll just send their assistants to dispatch Him. Silly Pharisees.

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First they try to butter Him up. Did they think they would throw Him off guard so He wouldn\'t see the trap coming? Though the Herodians supported Roman taxes and the Pharisees opposed them, the hope was apparently that whichever way He came down could be used against Him.

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If Jesus answered against paying taxes, the Herodians could turn Him over to Rome as a seditionist. If He supported paying taxes the Pharisees could claim He was against God because the people hated paying taxes that supported their oppressors. It was a classic \"no win\" situation, or so they thought.

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First, Jesus calls them on their hypocrisy-they weren\'t after the truth but to trip Jesus up. He answered wisely in that He was basically saying that citizens of an empire (or country) should pay for the services they receive from that government. At the same time, they should not worship that government as God, but should worship God only.

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In some ways we turn this around. We render to God the things that are Caesar\'s and to Caesar the things that are God\'s. We think we earn God\'s favor by paying him off and we worship the things that money can buy, and they become our god.

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23 - 33 How to live on earth while looking to heaven (what does heaven look like from earth)

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So now it\'s the Sadducees turn. The Sadducees were opposed to the Pharisees on many counts, and they rejected their rules and traditions. While the Pharisees looked for a cataclysmic restoration of David\'s kingdom by the Messiah, the Sadducees were more interested in getting along with the Romans for earthly prosperity.

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The \"no-win\" spiritual dilemma they presented comes from Deuteronomy 25:5-6, which was supposed to protect a family\'s inheritance by having the brother marry the dead brother\'s wife and the first son would carry on the name of the dead brother. The Sadducees made a false leap in logic. They do not believe in the resurrection from the dead because they couldn\'t find it in the Pentateuch. They concluded that if there was a resurrection it would basically be like life on earth. They figured this paradox proved their case that God did not raise the dead.

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First, Jesus skewers their fundamental problem: a lack of knowledge of the Scriptures and of God\'s power to do what He wants. Believe it or not, this is a pretty commonly held belief today by what we might call rationalists. If I can\'t prove it to my satisfaction by empirical evidence then it doesn\'t exist.

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Jesus says that in the resurrection people will be like angels in that there is no need for procreation, thus no need for marriage. Then Jesus uses the Pentateuch to skewer their fundamental belief against the resurrection by quoting Exodus 3:6. There God spoke about the dead as if they were living. If there was no resurrection then it would have been \"I was their God.\"

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By this time more than just the Sadducees have tuned in. Not only were the leaders silenced, but their very purpose-to discredit Jesus-had backfired.

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Now the Pharisees tag team in for one last try at it.

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34 - 40 What is God\'s character like?

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There is more to this story in Mark 12. Matthew is focusing on the rejection of Jesus and so leaves out what was a pretty cordial exchange between Jesus and this teacher of the Law.

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Mark tells us that the man heard the disputes and Jesus\' answers and seemed to really want to know His take on the whole of the Law. He agreed with the answer and even restated it. Jesus replied that he was not far from the kingdom of God. That silenced the religious leaders-now that when they talk to Him they themselves start getting converted!

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There was a raging debate about the relative importance of the many rules and laws. Jesus sums it up from Deuteronomy 6:5 which basically says that we should love God with our entire being and turn that love out to others (Lev 19:18).

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Now it\'s Jesus turn to ask a question-and not just any question but THE question of all-who is the Messiah?

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41 - 46 What is God\'s Messiah like?

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The leaders expected the Messiah to be a physical descendant of David who would restore Israel to prominence and dominance in the world. But Jesus\' response makes them consider something higher. Jesus was not just David\'s son but also his Lord (Adonai). This reveals not just the physical but divine nature of Jesus. The victory he would accomplish would be far greater than just the enemies of Israel but the enemy of man: his own sin.

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Conclusions

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If you having a hard time understanding God perhaps you are asking the wrong questions.

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1.????? Am I going to heaven (you can only get there by invitation and proper dress)

2.????? What is real goodness and do I measure up?

3.????? Who is Jesus, really? And must I deal with Him?

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