Luke 20:20-21:4; 13:31-35
Jesus has taught in parables. He is being tested by all of the rulers. They don’t believe He is the Messiah. There are plots to kill Him. People are beginning to believe. It’s Passover. Jesus knows He will soon die for the world’s sin. There’s no better plot than this!
Why did Jesus have to go through all this questioning? There are many reasons. First, this was a debating style. Next, without the questioning, Jesus’ commands could not be made public. And another reason: Jesus was coming to be the world’s sacrifice. He was to be the Passover Lamb. According to Mosaic Law, the Lamb had to be examined before the sacrifice, and if the examiners found even one tiny blemish, the animal was not acceptable (Exodus 12:5-6). Jesus’ accusers examined Him in every way possible, and they could find no blemish.
The poll tax (the equivalent of one day’s wages) is Jesus’ first test today. There were many reasons that the Jews considered this tax sinful. First, Tiberius’ face was on the coin, which was considered idolatry and forbidden in the second Commandment (Exodus 20:4). There was also the issue of the poll tax financing the occupying army, and finally this tax was a census tax, suggesting that Rome even owned the people. Jesus makes it clear that we are to obey local authorities (so long as the laws don’t go against Biblical principles) by saying that we render to the government what’s theirs and render to God what’s His. Paul later underscores this principle in Romans 13:1-7. Ultimately, of course, everything belongs to God. Jesus silenced His critics on all sides by giving the perfect answer.
Next, Jesus is quizzed about the resurrection. The Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection and brought up marriage/remarriage laws. How can a woman be married to many men in heaven? Jesus explained clearly that there is no marriage in heaven, that we will be like angels (notice that He doesn’t say we will be angels). This told the people that heaven would be a different place than earth – that our focus would be different!
The Greatest Commandment was the next question. The rabbis had determined that God set out 613 commandments in the Pentateuch (one for each Hebrew letter in the 10 commandments). Of those 613, they considered 248 affirmative and 365 negative.
The laws were further divided into heavy and light – but no one could agree on which were heavy and which were light!
Because of this minute examination of the Law, the leaders thought that Jesus had come up with His own theory. The question was asked to “prove” that Jesus had unorthodox beliefs.
Religious men would say the Shema in the morning and in the evening (Numbers 15:37-41; Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 11:13-21). Jesus quoted part of the Shema in His answer:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Deut 6:4-5 (ESV)
Jesus went one step further, quoting further from the Pentateuch, and gave the second commandment, reminding us that genuine love for God is most important; genuine love for people is next.
…but you shall love your neighbor as yourself … Lev 19:18 (ESV)
If you have the opportunity, read through Leviticus 19:9-18 again. Do you follow those commandments? What would your life be like if you chose to follow them? How would the world change if we all tried to follow them?
As Jesus left the temple, He saw a widow giving sacrificially. He commended her for giving her all and said that she was more blessed than those who give out of their abundance. It’s easy for most of us to give a few bucks to God as the plate passes. But do you give above and beyond that? You may not have much money to give, but do you offer yourself for church clean up days, or folding bulletins, or changing lightbulbs, or cleaning the church? Do you give because you are expected to, or because you want to? Are you blessed by God for giving sacrificially?
Jesus now tests the Pharisees, Herodians, Sadducees and scribes as they try to test Him. The rulers expected the Messiah to come as a man, and Jesus was claiming that He was both man and God. How could that be?
Jesus used David’s words in Psalm 110:1 to give the answer to His own question.
The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” Psalms 110:1 (ESV)
“How,” says Jesus, “can David call one of his descendants ‘Lord’?” Jesus was making the point that Messiah was fully God and fully man. He was proclaiming the Messiah’s deity – and He was telling the world that He was that Man. Later, John’s Revelation gives the definitive answer:
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” Rev 22:16 (ESV)
Every time I read through these passages I fall more in love with the Man that would walk this road (and He would have done it just for me!). Every time I read the story of the ultimate sacrifice that the Messiah gave for me, I wonder what else I can do for Him. Every time I contemplate the “impossibility” that Jesus was fully God and fully man, I stand in awe at the ways of God which I will NEVER understand.
I will spend today thanking God for His vastness, His glory, and for His Son. I will seek today to love and worship with all my heart. Will you join me?