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God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Monday, November 4, 2013

November 4 - Matthew 22; Mark 12: Futile Questions on a Futile Quest to Trap the Son of Man

Today’s Reading: Matthew 22; Mark 12

The Message

English Standard Version

Thought to Guide Your Reading

Jesus shows both the Pharisees and the Sadducees that they miss Scripture by focusing on minute details.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

Jesus continued storytelling, "A king opened his banquet to anyone. One improperly-dressed person was removed.
"Vineyard workers beat and killed their master's servants and his son. They were executed and replaced."
Pharisees sprung a trap, "Should we pay taxes to Caesar?"
Jesus responded, "Give to both Caesar and God."
Sadducees questioned marriage at the resurrection.
Jesus responded, "Marriage is not needed then."
Pharisees asked, "What is the greatest commandment?"
"Love the Lord your god with everything and your neighbor as yourself."
"Beware religious scholars who do not set things right."
A poor widow gave more than anyone by giving all.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

Jesus splits the middle between Caesar and God.

The question about paying taxes to Caesar was not a softball question. Caesars were considered gods after their deaths and eventually called themselves gods and demanded worship. The Jews had rebelled against Rome in the past (the history is written in the Apocrypha). The question about paying taxes was about contributing to emperor worship or rebelling against Rome. If Jesus had answered "yes" He would have approved of emperor worship. If He answered "no" He would become a revolutionary. The answer the Pharisees got was the answer the least expected, "Respect Caesar as your leader, worship God as your Creator." Respect government officials, but only worship God.

Marriage is unnecessary when we are with God.

Marriage was meant to populate the world and provide a companion. When we are with God, we neither need to populate the Earth nor need companionship. God will be our Companion for eternity.

The greatest commands provide the foundation for every command given by God.

"Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence." This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: "Love others as well as you love yourself." These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them. (Matthew 22:37-40, The Message)
Every command falls into one of these two areas. The question we should ask when we see any command given by God is does it help love God or love my neighbor? Any command given beyond what is in Scripture should also be based on one of the two.

Jesus shows the futility of trapping Him in a theological quandary by proposing His own.

In this reading, Jesus was faced with three major questions which were futile attempts at trapping Him in theological quicksand. Jesus wanted to show how silly they were in asking these questions by posing His own. The answer is unimportant—it doesn't help people love God or love their neighbor as themselves. However, since the Pharisees cared more for the words of Scripture instead of its meaning, the question could not be answered. They did not understand that some things do not make sense because our rules are man-made, not God-given. Beware deep, theological discussions about minute details in Scripture. They may prevent you from seeing the meaning of the text.

Beware "scholars" who do not set things right.

The religious leaders complained that only "ignorant" people accepted Jesus. "Scholars" knew better than to obey Jesus, even though He did all of the things necessary for them to believe. Their issue wasn't Jesus at all. They did not care for setting things right. They wanted to keep their education posts. They did not have time to set things right. Jesus wanted everyone to beware of their teachings—they were not being followed.
As a seminary student, I had courses which I did not understand why they were important—at least in how they were taught. Religious training must walk a fine line between equipping for setting things right and setting up an elite class of "academics" who look down on others trying to obey God's Word. Although I realize most of the issues about this come from the students taking their training in the wrong way, we must keep a firm grasp on teaching students to obey God's Word along with understanding God's Word.

Giving is accepted based on mindset not amount.

Jesus was not discounting the gifts rich people brought. He was praising the widow for giving everything. She gave more than everyone else because she was willing to put more faith in God to provide for her future. By giving more we put more faith in God to provide for our needs.

Love the Lord Your god with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself.


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