Serving Jesus is wrapped up in one word, “Whatever.” Why would we be selective in serving?
3 Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but provocation by a fool [he who refuses to submit to authority] is heavier than both.
The religious rulers wanted to serve God their way. When Jesus tried to correct them, they resisted—big time! Twice the powers that be tried to trick Jesus. Twice He turned the tables on them. Jesus was all about changing the way people were thinking about the law, God, and heaven. Let’s look at the Pharisees’ trap first:
Paying the Imperial Tax to Caesar
15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”
18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.
- The intent was obvious to everyone: The Pharisees and the Herodians wanted Jesus out of the way.
- They first appealed to His integrity. They assumed that Jesus would tell the truth. They thought they had Him–little did they know…
- The imperial tax was “A special tax levied on subject peoples, not on Roman citizens.” The Jews hated having to pay this tax on top of the regular Roman tax, the temple tax, and their own national tax as well as special taxes imposed by Rome.
- They asked for a judgement call from Jesus on this tax. To say, “No, it is wrong,” would have put Him in hot water with the Roman government; to say, “Yes, we need to pay it,” would have put Him at odds with the people.
- Jesus knew their minds and the intent of their hearts. He called for a denarius to be brought to Him. We have to assume that one of the Pharisees brought Him the coin. The problem is that it had a picture of Caesar on it as well as the inscription “The Divine Caesar.” It was an idol–and they had brought it into the temple area (see 21:23). Busted!!!
- Jesus didn’t call them on the coin. Instead, He specified that we are to give to Caesar what He asks for as leader of Rome and to give to God what God asks of us as Lord of our lives. It’s a valid word for today.
- Exit—embarrassed—stage right…
Then, the Sadducees came to trick Jesus with this story:
Marriage at the Resurrection
23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 24 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26 The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. 27 Finally, the woman died. 28 Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”
29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 31 But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”
33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.
- The story they told Jesus was based upon Deuteronomy 25:5-6 and was a valid point that was taken to the extreme.
- Jesus made a public statement concerning their knowledge of Scripture–or the lack thereof–and the power of God. He schooled them!
- Our glorified bodies will be beyond just physical bodies. Our physique and the way it works will not be what we know. Marriage will not be needed. Our intimate knowledge of everyone far outshines the intimacy involved in marriage. Neither will there be any need to procreate. I wish I knew what He meant by “they will be like the angels in heaven.” I can assume that our physical needs and desires will give way to heavenly ones.
- Jesus then brought it all home to a correct interpretation of Scripture. He quoted Exodus 3:6 to them. Then He interpreted it for them, “He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” Boom. Mic drop.
- The crowds were astonished. The Sadducees were surely embarrassed if not downright ashamed. The gauntlet had been thrown down.
They tried again one more time, but we will have to wait until tomorrow. For today, let’s allow God to interpret Scripture for us. When we read a verse or passage, let’s ask Him to tell us what it means and how to apply it. He may not answer right away, but soon that answer will dawn on us as He shows us. He’s like that.
Abba, may You be my light, my knowledge, my wisdom, my discernment, my understanding, my discretion, and my prudence concerning Your Word. May I heed every instruction that comes from Your lips to my ears. Amen.