Perceiving that Jesus was speaking against them in His parables, the Pharisees plotted to trap Him in His words. The Sadducees, who were also angered by Jesus’ parables, joined the Pharisees in challenging Jesus. Through the debate on theological issues, the Lord Jesus proved to be the supreme teacher who had perfect knowledge of God. Then with a question about the scriptural reference to Christ, Jesus decisively silenced the tempters.
Did You Know...?
Herodians (22:16): A party among the Jews of the apostolic age, and keenly opposed to Jesus (Matt. 22:16; Mark 3:6, 12:13)…The party was probably formed under Herod the Great and appears to have held that it was right to pay homage to a sovereign who might be able to bring the friendship of Rome and other advantages, but who had personally no title to reign by law and by religion. On this question they differed from the Pharisees (Matt. 22:16-17), although they joined forces with them in disguised opposition, or in open union against Jesus, in whom they saw a common enemy. The Herodians were obviously something more than a political party and something less than a religious sect. [ref]
How did the Pharisees’ comment in 16 reflect their hypocrisy? (18)Hide Answer
Their flattering words, which led to the question that followed, pressured Jesus to answer their question. Essentially, they were saying, “Since you teach the truth and do not try to please men, you should be able to answer our question without being afraid of offending anyone.” On the surface, they appeared to respect Jesus’ integrity. In their hearts, they had devised a plot to entangle Him.
What would have been the consequence had Jesus answered, “Yes, it’s lawful to pay taxes to Caesar”?Hide Answer
He would have offended the majority of the Jews.
And had Jesus answered “No, don’t pay taxes to Caesar”?Hide Answer
He would have been charged with treason against Caesar.
Explain the answer Jesus gave.Hide Answer
We still need to fulfill our obligations to earthly authorities while we devote ourselves to the service of God.
How did His answer correct the misconception that lay underneath the question?Hide Answer
Jesus first asked them a question about whose inscription it was on the coin. He used their response to answer their own question. Since the people enjoyed the benefits of the Roman rule, they ought to give to Caesar what was rightfully his. But contrary to what many Jews at the time believed, paying taxes to Caesar did not and should not conflict with their loyalty to God. While expecting the coming of the Messianic kingdom, the people of God still must fulfill their responsibilities to the governing authorities.
What are “the things that are God’s”?Hide Answer
In a narrower sense, we need to supply for the work of God with tithes and offerings, which rightfully belong to God (Mal 3:8-10). In a broader sense, we should offer our entire being and life to God because He made us and have given us life (see Mt 22:37). Just as we have obligations to fulfill as citizens of an earthly nation, we who are citizens of the heavenly kingdom must all the more serve God with absolute dedication.
What can we learn here about Christians’ social obligations and the reasons for these obligations?
What point were the Sadducees trying to prove by their question?Hide Answer
They hoped to prove that belief in resurrection is absurd.
According to the Lord, how were the Sadducees ignorant of the Scriptures in their view of the resurrection?
How were they ignorant of the power of God?
How did the quotation in 32 show that God is not the God of the dead, but of the living?Hide Answer
God’s self-identification as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob showed that these people were alive to God even though they had died physically (Lk 20:38). God, who is eternal and who is faithful to His everlasting covenant, would not identify Himself as the God of the dead.
How does this understanding apply to the resurrection?Hide Answer
The Sadducees believed that human beings cease to exist in body and spirit upon death, and along this line of reasoning, there is no resurrection. But if Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were all alive when they had already died physically, it means that there is spiritual life after death. This also means that resurrection, as promised by God in the Scripture, would be entirely possible.
How was the lawyer’s question a test?Hide Answer
As many Pharisees and teachers of the law who have tried had learned, it is very difficult to summarize the law or give one commandment more importance than another. So the question to Jesus was to test His ability as a teacher of the law and to find fault in His answer.
What does it mean that “all the Law and the Prophets hang on the two great commandments”?Hide Answer
These two commandments form the basis of all other commandments. Love is the spirit of the entire Scripture. Without these commandments, the other commandments become incoherent and meaningless.
How is the second great commandment like the first (39)?Hide Answer
It is like the first in that it originates from the first and is directly tied to it. We can only truly love our neighbors if we first dedicate ourselves to God and let His love fill our hearts. On the other hand, the direct manifestation of our love for God is to love our neighbors as ourselves (
1Jn 4:12, 20, 5:2).
How did the Pharisees’ inability to answer show their misunderstanding about the Christ?Hide Answer
The Pharisees as well as the common people only thought of the Messiah as the Son of David who would be heir to David’s throne. But the Lord Jesus, by citing Psalm 110, showed them that such understanding was insufficient. Christ was not just a descendent of David who would rule over Israel, but He was greater than David. In fact, He was God himself.