Matthew 22:15-46


“Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.  And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man:  for thou regardest not the person of men.  Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou?  Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?  But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, you hypocrites?  Show me the tribute money.  And they brought unto him a penny [denarius].  And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?  They say unto him, Caesar’s.  Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.  When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.  The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.  Now there were with us seven brethren:  and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother:  likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh.  And last of all the woman died also.  Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven?  for they all had her.  Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.  For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.  But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?  God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.  And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine.  But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.  Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law?  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.  While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he?  They say unto him, The son of David.  He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?  If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?  And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions. 


Tangling With A Lion


“Matthew chapter 22, that’s where we are, verse 15.  And as you return to your seats and get your Bibles I’d just like to take the opportunity to share a word of prayer with you.  ‘Lord, thank you for just the grace that you’ve shown us, even hearing stories about some areas of this country yet still under great need of service and repair and help [i.e. the Katrina devastation area].  Thank you Lord that you can even use us to be part of that, from our various backgrounds, going down and just loving people and serving them.  And I just want to thank you for the stories, pray there’d continue to be more in the weeks and months ahead this winter.  Thanks too for your Word, Lord.  We need your Word, we need to hear your voice, we need to know your love and your will and your purpose in our lives.  And we come from different backgrounds, Lord, and we come on Sunday mornings.  And by your grace you’ve compiled this Book, your Word, and your Word is living and active, and you speak into our lives.  Lord we thank you.  And as we continue even this morning, I pray that you’d place your Holy Spirit upon all of us, and even upon myself now, and for each and every one of us, there would be that sense of you speaking into our lives.  So thank you for all you do, in Jesus name we pray, amen.’


“Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesars”


Let’s begin with verse 15 of Matthew chapter 22.  “Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle him in his talk.  And they sent to him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, ‘Teacher, we know that you are true, and teach the way of God in truth:  nor do you care about anyone, for you do not regard the person of men.  Tell us, therefore, what do you think?  Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?’  But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, ‘Why do you test me, you hypocrites?  Show me the tax money.’  So they brought him a denarius.  And he said to them, ‘Whose image and inscription is this?’  They said to him, ‘Caesar’s.’  And he said to them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’  When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left him and went their way” (verses 15-22).  So Traditional Calendar, it’s about Tuesday, we mentioned it before  [I go by the Jewish Calendar dating for this, for the year 30AD, and this was taking place on a Sunday, the 11th Nisan, 30AD.  See for the complete picture and timing for these events, going right through the crucifixion.]  We’ve mentioned it before, the last week that Jesus is here on the earth before he’s crucified, just a couple days before he’s crucified.  And you can see, even here, the religious leaders, they so clearly want to do away with him.  They’re looking for that opportunity to take his life, to remove him from the scene.  They are critical of him, they are threatened by him, and so they will do anything possible to achieve their purpose of doing away with him.  And it is interesting to me that you see here in verses 15 and 16, that they’re wiling even to go to the point of trickery to achieve their purpose, or even that of deceit.  In Luke chapter 20, verse 20, one of the other Gospels that tells us about this incident, it describes this particular encounter as they’re sending out spies, they sent out spies who pretended, Luke uses the very word “pretended.”  So they were deceitful, even pretending to be something that they were not in order to entangle him and to trap him in his words.  And so, sort of like a hunter, you think of a hunter that goes out, trying to get that bird or that animal trapped, the tactic a hunter would use.  That’s kind of how the Gospel writers have put this little incident together, giving it that sort of picture.  The only thing here though, is they’re trying to trap him in their words,  but they don’t know Who they’re tangling with.  They’re tangling with the Word.  And you can’t do very well in tangling with the Word when you try to trap him in words, because he is the Word, and he’s tough to tangle with.  I think of Jeff Corin and Steve Irwin, those guys, they’re radical, man.  They seem like they have fun jobs, but I don’t know if I’d trade places with them.  They sometimes get ahold of a crockadile or a critter, those guys that, maybe you don’t know the names, but those guys on TV that are always catching wild animals.  Once in a while Jeff Corin has got a snake that’s a little bigger than he can handle, you’ve seen episodes, or Steve Irwin’s got some crockadile that’s got ahold of him.  You know, later here on Sunday, maybe you’ve seen it, I think two of these guys, sometimes Sunday afternoon you’ve got the guys who ride those bulls, and I don’t get those guys, why in the world would you want to do such a thing?  Beasts of pure muscle, man.  And they get on them, and some of those guys, they just barely get out of the gate and they go flying like a rag-doll.  They were on an animal bigger and more powerful than they could handle.  And it’s a little like that here.  These guys honestly think they can trap the Word in word.  And they aren’t going to have a whole lot of success.  In just a moment they’re going to walk away feeling pretty silly and pretty foolish for what they tried to do.  But they use trickery.  It’s intriguing too, they send their disciples, these spies along with the Herodians.  And that’s two groups that generally aren’t together on one team, because the Herodians were these guys who were aligned with Herod, ultimately the Roman authority, they looked to Rome, they respected Rome.  And for that reason, they were given in some instances, even favor from Rome.  They were given position in high places.  Well the strict Jew, the religious Jew hated the Romans, hated the rule of the Romans.  So these religious leaders, the Pharisees and the Herodians, they were at odds generally.  They were two groups that were against each other.  But here they’ve got a common foe, and because they have a common foe they join together.  [“The enemy of my enemy is my friend” type alliance.]  They join together as an enemy against Jesus.  And they go to this place of trickery and just trying to even butter him up.  You notice there it says, verse 16, they say things, just picture it in your mind, they’re saying things that they do not believe.  They say ‘Teacher, Master, we know that you are true, that you’re somebody of integrity.’  Now that is something that is true of Jesus, but they don’t believe that statement.  They’re lying.  You know, just a little while back, we saw them accusing him of being possessed by a demon.  And obviously, integrity and demon possession generally don’t go together.  Right?  And they say ‘and you teach the way of God in truth.’  I mean, if they believed that they would follow him.  But they don’t believe that at all.  It’s true that he teaches the Word in truth, but they don’t believe that, they’re lying, they’re being deceitful.  And then they say that ‘you don’t show anybody favoritism, you don’t regard one person above another.’  And of course, anybody who knew Jesus, even his enemies, say that about him because it was true.  He’d love you if you were poor, he’d love you if you were rich.  If you were in a position of authority, or a position seemingly small in society, it did not matter, he wasn’t a person who gave favoritism, he treated everybody the same.  Well, seeking to trap him, they come as if, ‘Hey, give us some wisdom’, that’s kind of how they come, ‘Listen, you’re so great, you’re so awesome.’  They don’t believe that, but they come and say that.  ‘Listen, help us out a little bit, would you?  Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?’  Now this would appear to be an honest question, but it’s not an honest question, in the sense that they’ve thought this through.  And in their ingeniousness they’ve determined that ‘Well if we ask this, man, we’ve got this guy cornered.’  And that is because, I mean, paying taxes to Caesar, you’ve got the religious Jews, you’ve got these folks that in some instances have admired Jesus.  And if he in any way gives favor towards the Romans, if he says something in this answer that appears that he’s favoring the Romans, he’s going to upset them.  But then if he says, on the other hand, something that seems to disfavor the Romans, if he says, ‘Ah, well we shouldn’t pay taxes’, obviously and as Luke has said, if you read Luke’s account, they’re thinking they can entrap him and then take him right off down to the Governor [Pilate], and have him taken.  So they’ve come up with this question.  So, hypocritically, craftily as other translations even say, they come in that type of way.  And you know, we watch them here, and I think of what Jesus said a little while ago, he spoke about ‘As they do to him, they will also do to you and I.’  And I believe that is true.  I watch, you do too, sometimes maybe the television news or read it in the paper, where a Christian leader will be interviewed by some secular press.  And sometimes you’ve seen it, I’ve noted it, where the person whose doing the interviewing, it isn’t their desire to get an honest interview.  In some instances it seems they’re trying to come up with something controversial, they’re trying to stir something up.  So their questions have a purpose, they’re trying to shed a certain light and cast a certain light on this Christian or his ministry.  And as they did to Jesus, they’ll certainly do to you and I as believers, no doubt about it.  Well, I then think of Jesus’ exhortation, “Behold, I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves.  Therefore be wise as serpents, and as harmless as doves.”  I think in the world we’re living in, and the world we’re headed into, I think it’s a wise exhortation, you and I need to be as gentle as doves, but at the same time we need to be as shrewd as serpents.  You know, as we met a little while ago, some of the leaders, as we were planning for the building of this radio station on the peninsula, and one of the things that we decided as far as our philosophy, is we’re going to seek to, through the ministry, one of the things that we had listed, we’re going to seek to be, not unnecessarily offensive.  Because sometimes Christians are unnecessarily offensive [like the Westboro Baptist Church, which must be a real embarrassment to the Baptists in general, and the poor Graham family in particular, as well as Charles Stanley’s wonderful ministry].  Saying things like where others would say to us, ‘Well, why did you have to say that?’.  Maybe there was a church leader recently that said something and I was like, ‘Why did he have to say that?’.  And so we can be that way, we can go down avenues and say things that offend, where we’ll end up asking ourselves ‘Why did we say that?’, offending the world where we’re trying to love them in the name of Jesus Christ.  So, part of our philosophy, we’re going to seek not to be unnecessarily offensive.  But at the same time, the Word of God is offensive to some.  And where the truth offends, it offends, and we realize that.  We’re going to be simply true to the Word, and let the Word be what it is, in a loving manner.  But if it bothers some, it bothers some.  And that’s what we see here.  Jesus the Word, he’s offensive to them.  And so they’ve come in this crafty way.  And we’re reminded, we need to be wise in this world we live in, but yet as harmless as doves.  Well, each time that they test Jesus, we’re going to go through to the end of the chapter here, and each time they do, remember this is Tuesday [Sunday, 30AD], it’s a day of confrontation, man, they’re looking for that way to get him.  And the confrontation is increasing and increasing.  In chapter 23 it really hits kind of a high point.  But fortunately every time, they come up with these little ways to trap him, but every time he responds he actually gives wisdom, wisdom that’s helpful to you and I.  So we’re thankful in one way that these things happened, because he gives some wisdom here.  He deals with subjects that sometimes you and I have a hard time trying to balance out, the relationship between different things. 


The proper relationship between religion and government


And here, his answer, as he deals with this controversial issue here, he gives us a sense of the relationship, the proper relationship between religion and government in our lives.  In some instances the Church debates, ‘What’s the proper place of government as opposed to religion?  What’s the proper place of secular as opposed to sacred?’.  And we go back and forth and we debate that sometimes.  And maybe different periods in Church history end up in different places.  But here Jesus, his answer shows a lot of wisdom when it comes to finding that right balance and that right sort of priority in our lives.  It says in verse 18 that he perceives their wickedness, the other translations, Mark says ‘their hypocrisy.’  Luke says ‘he saw their craftiness.’  And he says ‘Why are you testing me?  Why are you trying to tempt me and trap me?  I know what you’re trying to do, I see right through the whole deal.’  They come up with this little butter him up speech, and pose a question.  ‘I know what you’re trying to do.  Why are you trying to trap me?’  And then he instructs them, ‘Go, get me some tax money, get me the tax money,’ verse 19.  So they go quickly, and they bring the tax money, which happens to be a denarius.  And he holds up the denarius, and he says, ‘Whose inscription, whose picture, whose image is on this coin, and whose inscription?’  Well, interesting thing about this denarius, the Roman denarius was a coin that generally was found to be objectionable to the Jew.  And that is because it had a portrait of the Emperor on it.  And also on the other side of that portrait, on the other side of the coin it had an inscription that more or less said that he is a son of God.  Now to the religious Jew, the Law said that you were not to have any images, and here’s this coin with an image of Caesar in a sense of giving him worship.  So they were stumbled by the coin.  And so there was another coin that was minted, and it was used most commonly in the Jewish culture, and it was a coin that was minted without that picture and without that inscription.  Although in the time of Herod Antipas and following, there began to be more and more of these coins.  But when it came to paying the taxes, you needed the denarius with the picture and the inscription, that was the one that they needed to have.  There is a  question here, he says “show me the tax money”, and it seems that they fairly readily get one, and that says something, because, in the culture, if it was objectionable to use that currency, they didn’t have any problem finding it.  Well anyway, he holds it up and says “Whose image and inscription is this?”, and they say “It is Caesar’s.”  And then with that, he goes on, and he just blows their minds away, he just completely blows them away in a way that they have no way of really cornering him, it just leaves them feeling kind of silly. He says to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” [It has been speculated historically that Pilate, the acting Roman Governor, heard about their question to Jesus and his answer, and was quite impressed and amused.  It is probably true.  Pilate was no friend to these religious leaders either.]  So here he gives us a principle, a relationship between government and religion in my own life.  First thing that he says is “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s…”  I find it interesting, where we’re in this passage and it’s January 22nd today, and that’s a timely time to be in this passage, I’m getting those little W-2 things and 1099 things in the mail, and getting ready.  I mean, clearly it’s time to start getting ready for the taxes.  Last time I taught this passage was back in March of 1996, and I was looking through my notes, and I made the point in there “in two weeks, April 15th”, you know, “it’s tax time.”  He says “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s.”  No doubt, God knows what’s on your 1040 as you’re filling it out or getting it filled out.  The thing is too, he also knows what you got paid this year.  If that includes all the money you made under the table, man, he knows the whole deal.  He knows if the two match.  He says “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s.”  Now, for some believers this is great insight, because some believers will tell you that we shouldn’t be paying taxes.  There are believers that will be saying that.  There are even some that suggest that ‘Hey, our Founding Fathers never intended for us to be paying taxes, and what’s gone on to this point is just corruption, just squewed, don’t pay taxes, it’s not right.’  Well, it doesn’t really matter how we got to where we did, and what our Founding Fathers intended, the truth is, it’s required now in our country, every citizen is to pay taxes.  And Jesus says then, “Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s.”   I personally think the government could be a little smaller, I think it’s gotten a little too big, I certainly also think, personal opinion, I think taxes are a little too high, and I would certainly be all for having them reduced.  But at the same time, at the same time, he says “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.”  Now what happens when, I mean, the whole sense here is that I am to be a citizen, that is law-abiding.  That’s implied there, I’m to be a law-abiding citizen.  But what happens in those times where the law of the land in our country is in opposition to the law of God?  And many of you know this, but Acts chapter 5, verse 29, then we go to what the disciples said there.  They said “We ought to obey God rather than man.”  Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, I’m to be law-abiding as a citizen, but I am not obviously going to do that when it begins to be contrary to the Law of God, when God has clearly stated things, and laws are different to that in our state or nation, then I have to make a different stand.  Now, ‘Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s,’ that word “render” literally means to give back.  Now in verse 17, when they say to him ‘Is it lawful to pay, or to give taxes’, they use a certain Greek word, he responds with another one, “render.”  They say “give.”  But when he says “give,” in the sense, the Greek literally is “give back.”  Or it’s in that sense of “you owe something,” ‘it’s a bill that you have to pay, you owe Caesar this.’   So render to him what is “owed to him,” give to him what is needed to be given to him.  Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s.  So as you’re doing your 1040, as you’re working out your tax statement, here’s a good little principle for you.  I wish taxes where lower and our government was smaller, but man, I think the Word of God is clear here, and I think it would be hard as a believer to somehow say that I’m not to pay taxes, or I’m not to pay the taxes that everybody else is supposed to pay.  Paul and Peter will address this issue later in the New Testament.  Romans chapter 13, verse 7, Paul telling the church in Rome, “Render therefore to all their due, taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs are due, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.”  He goes right there and lays it out, and divides it out.  You know, pay the gas tax, pay the excise tax, pay the Federal tax, I mean, he says ‘Render taxes to whom taxes, customs to whom customs are due,’ he just lays it out.  Peter in his first Epistle, chapter 2, verses 13-17, “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake.”  Every ordinance of man, for the Lord’s sake, “whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evil-doers and for the praise of those who do good.  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men---as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for wickedness, but as bondservants of God.  Honor all people.  Love the brotherhood.  Fear God.  Honor the king.”  So the Word of God is clear, and the principle here is clear, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars.”  Now, the balance between sacred and secular, how does it work out?  And Jesus gives the perfect balance.  He then says, “Render to God the things that are God’s.”  This coin that he lifted, obviously has the image of Caesar, it was the denarius used to pay the pole tax, render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.  But he’s speaking to men.  And the Bible says men are made in the image of Christ.  In a sense I bear the image of Christ, render to God the things that are God’s, that’s my very life, all that I am.  So that’s why Paul writes what he does in Roman’s chapter 12, verse 1, “I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”  Man, Christians, we have an earthly obligation, we have an obligation to be law abiding, and even at times pay taxes and customs.  But as a believer, too, I have a heavenly responsibility, I’m a sojourner, I’m just passing through this world, I’m a pilgrim, but at the same time I should be living for the eternal, and in a sense making deposits in eternity right now, investing in the eternal treasures.  Now, we should also note, when he says ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s’, are there two different compartments?  Are they to be totally separate in my life, there’s the civil, the secular and then over here is the sacred, and God, and they’re always separate?  That’s not the point that he’s making to you and I as believers.  In everything I’m to live under the sacred, in everything I’m to live under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, under the direction of God.  And in rendering unto Caesar, I’m actually doing that unto the Lord, because God said so.  And ultimately, he’s founded the government [cf. Daniel 4:17b], and so I honor him as a law-abiding citizen in America.  He’s ordained my life, he’s determined the boundary of where I’d live, I’d live in this state, I’d be serving here today, he’s already written the book of my life, there is the government of today, and so I am to be law-abiding.  But in doing that I’m actually under the sacred, meaning I’m honoring God in that sense. 


There is a dividing line between the sacred and profane, the things of God and the things of government


But there is yet in this verse here, clearly a difference between the two.  And to the Lord there are the things that are God’s.  There are the things that are Caesar’s and the things that are God’s, and there is yet a divide between the two.  And in no sense should Caesar be poking his nose into the things that are God’s.  Our Founding Fathers obviously understood that, we call it separation of Church and State, there is Caesar’s and there is God’s, and what is God’s, Caesar, that is not yours.  And so there was to be that separation.  I think it’s interesting, when we go through the Word of God as we do, we just go through simply.  And sometimes I’m getting ready (to speak), going, ‘It is interesting we’re in that passage today.’  Wasn’t planned that way, we’re going verse by verse.  But with tonight, there was this prayer-meeting in Boston, you’ve heard about it, and maybe you’re able to be part of that, to work out your schedule.  But there is legislation going down on Wednesday night, potentially, I’ve mentioned it to you before.  And boy it’s great to be praying right now, if you can on Monday and Tuesday, maybe even call a state rep or leader, just share your honest thoughts.  But there is a law going down, this one, an act relative to charities in this state, and the secular press is talking very little about it, but it seems to me to be crossing a line that was something Jesus respected and our Founding Fathers clearly respected too, and that is that Caesar seems to be going into the territory of the sacred in a very wrong way.  And I’ve mentioned it to you, and asked that you’d pray.  It passed our state senate 33 to 4, it’s now before the house, the house is going to vote on Wednesday.  But this law will require our church and every single church in this state to begin filing each year our financial statements and all these paper-works to the government.  And a church our size, we would need a CPA according to this legislation, and it would cost us $10,000 to $15,000 a year just to file the paperwork.  And to be honest with you, we have nothing to hide, you can know our finances.  We tell people in the introduction class we have for our church, if you ever take that, you’ll find, I’ll tell people, ‘Listen, our books are open at this church, we have nothing to hide.’  If you give to this church, if you financially participate in this church, we’re accountable to you, you can come and look at our books.’  And people have, they’ve sat down with the person who does the accounting, and they’ve gone right through it.  So we have nothing to hide, and we have an accountability, but at the same time, there are other little things.  You know, when you give to the church, obviously you give to the Lord.  Right?  You’re like, ‘Lord, I give this to you.’  And it is sacred, in that sense.  And it should stay that way.  And I think there are people that are maybe well-intentioned in our state where things are getting blurred to them, and they’re trying to change something that’s just existed since the founding of our nation, and I’d ask you to pray.  One of the, there’s a number of implications from this law.  One is, when you give to this church, the leadership, we don’t know who gives.  I mean, there are a couple people that have to, obviously, the people that do the accounting have to know who gives because you have to do the accounting.  But I have no idea who gives and what you give, and I don’t want to.  But with this legislation, if it is passed, if you give a large check, which at times we get large gifts that people give, that’s something now that becomes part of a public record, and can actually be posted publicly with the government.  [Just another way government is trying to get into our lives, and run every single aspect of our lives, totally defying the Constitution of the United States of America.]  And there are many other things, of course, which I’ve mentioned already before to you.  One, that the attorney general now has a say in how we spend money here at this church.  And if a church is abusive and doing something illegal with their finances there’s already laws that deal with that.  There is no need for this.  But to me it opens a door that I think, we’ve had enough doors opened lately in this state, let’s keep this one shut, man.  I tell you, I hope it’s something that is important to you.  I was with my kids recently, and just thinking, even telling my son, ‘I don’t know, man, I don’t know if you will have the religious freedom that I do.  I will be 40 years old shortly, and will have lived in this country, and I have had a certain experience in America, where I could freely worship the Lord, freely go to church, freely believe what I believe, freely share at any time when I want to share, in any way.  And with these sorts of legislations, I wonder how long it’s going to continue to be the way it is.  And my heart goes out to my kids.  What sort of world in America are they going to be in?  And the truth is, if our kids do not have the religious freedom that we have, it means that you and I have not been faithful.  This generation has not been faithful to secure, to pass on that light, that we were given.  [see]  We were given that light, and we’ve not been faithful in guarding it and passing it on.  Well I pray that you’re praying, and there’s just concern in your heart.  And if you want more on the legislation, there’s even more implications that I could talk about for awhile.  But would you please be in prayer, if you’re able to, it would be great.  We were going to meet tonight at the church, it’s in the bulletin.  We’re going to drive from here, the service starts at 6:30 in Boston.  If you don’t have wheels, there will be at least one 15-passenger van that can give some folks a lift, for those who don’t have a vehicle or way of transportation.  And of course there will be other cars carpooling too.  “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and render to God the things that are God’s.”  When he says this, they marveled, they are just dumbfounded, and they leave, and they go their way feeling pretty silly.  They tangled with somebody they shouldn’t have been tangling with.


The Sadducees attempt to tangle with the Word, Jesus


Verses 23-33, “The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him, saying:  ‘Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother.  Now there were with us seven brothers.  The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother.  Likewise the second also, and the third, even to the seventh.  Last of all the woman died also.  Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be?  For they all had her.’  Jesus answered and said to them, ‘You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.  For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like the angels of God in heaven.  But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?  God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.’  And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.”  Well here come the Sadducees, same day.  The Pharisees struck out, Sadducees now come.  And they present an absolutely ridiculous scenario.  They are also being crafty.  They are also appearing deceitfully, trying to appear one way, trying to act like they want an answer, but what they’re really trying to do is corner him.  They come pose this ridiculous question about the resurrection.  The deal is, they act as if they believe in the resurrection, but they don’t believe in the resurrection.  That was the issue with the Sadducees.  They did not even believe in the resurrection, neither did they believe in angels, or spirits.  They believed that when you died, the spirit died with you.  And so that’s why we say downstairs in the children’s ministry “That’s why they were Sad-you-see, Sadducee, you know”, just waking you guys up a little bit.  I know you’ve heard that a thousand times in this church.  These guys, they accept just the first five books of the Bible.  They looked at the religion of Moses, they looked at the Pentateuch, that was it.  The interesting thing is, though, in the other parts of the Old Testament there were verses about the resurrection.  Daniel chapter 12, verse 2, Isaiah chapter 26,  verse 19 [and he left out Ezekiel 37:1-14].  The Pharisees believed in the resurrection, and they looked to those verses.  But these Sadducees, well they looked at the rest of the Old Testament, to them it was kind of good, but there were [in their minds] problems with it, it deviated a bit, and with those kinds of verses, they just wrote them off.  They just looked to the Law.  And they looked to the Law here with this question, they used the principle of the Law here, the kinsman redeemer, and passages like Deuteronomy chapter 25, verse 5, and they just make this foolish extrapolation of the passage.  But it was taught in the law, that if you are a woman who gets married, if a man and woman are married, and your husband died, and you didn’t have any boys to carry on the family line, it was now the responsibility of the brother to take that man’s wife, and take her as his wife, and raise a son for his deceased brother’s lineage.  So these Sadducees bring up this scenario…’he dies, brother marries her, he dies, brother marries her, he dies, brother marries her, seven times.’  This historically never ever happened.  Right?  I mean, what’s the chances of that happening?  Or she’s just some bad gal, I’d be scared being the seventh guy, going, ‘This is not good.’  Probably like the third guy would be wondering, ‘Oh man, change my name, I’m moving.’  [Something similar happened in Genesis 38:1-30.  Poor Shelah probably didn’t want to get anywhere near poor Tamar.]  But just a foolish deal.  Well Jesus then, he just blows away this foolish reasoning. 


“You don’t know the Scriptures nor the power of God”


I love that verse, verse 29, he says, ‘You are mistaken.  You don’t know the Scriptures, and therefore you don’t know the power of God.’ [Comment:  Even if people were resurrected back to physical life, which people are in the 2nd resurrection (see for the various beliefs on this), when someone dies the marriage bond is broken by that death.  If they were somehow to be resurrected back to physical life, they would be able to go and marry anyone they wanted to.  So in this other area, the Sadducees were ignoring this other spiritual principle that death severs all marital obligations and bonds of matrimony.]  They knew the Bible in a knowledge way, I mean, they studied the Old Testament, they studied the Pentateuch, the Law, but they did not know the light that was there, they did not see it.  And because they did not see it, they did not know the power of God.  And I love that verse, I mean, what a sad state to not really know the light that is there.  You may know the Bible verses, but not know the light there, and then therefore not to know the power of God in your life.  [Comment:  There are a whole lot of people out there who believe they are true Christians because they can read the Bible on what they believe is a true understanding level, and yet not have the indwelling Holy Spirit operative in their lives.  They think they are Christians, believers in Jesus Christ, but are not truly so.  What they really amount to within the churches they dwell in, are tares, in essence.  Jesus addresses such people in Matthew 7:21-23.  Sometimes whole churches are made up of people like this.  I call them the dead and dying past revivals of Christianity, denominations that have grown cold, and then dead in their true spirituality.  Others are in our midst, thinking they are believers because they have a certain level of Biblical understanding, and yet by their fruits they identify themselves, over the long run, as tares and not wheat.]  This week I was in Arizona just for a couple days, there was a meeting related to rapid response for disaster relief, we’re working with some churches, and we were meeting this week, pastors in Arizona, to formalize it more, and some pastors in Arizona wanted to be part of it.  Well we had our meeting, and then after our meeting one of the guys that was setting up the whole trip took us to another church, run by a pastor by the name of John Higgins.  And I had heard a little about John, this man has been around a long time, he was part of the early what you call Jesus Movement.  In the early mid-60s, there were these places called Shiloh houses, and he was one of the overseers, with guys like my pastor, Mike, who then came to these places and came to Christ, there were all these Hippies coming to Christ.  They were called Shiloh houses.  He was there, early days.  Well, we go to his church, and it’s been a boring kind of meeting (we just had), I mean, I shouldn’t say that, being respectful of the people who presented things, friends of mine.  But you know, a long kind of thing.  And now we’re at a church, kind of going around, and I’m not really into it.  And I didn’t expect what happened or the experience.  You know, the Lord just meets you.  We sit down in John Higgins’ office, and we’re supposed to be meeting about disaster relief, but we start talking.  And he starts to talk about the early days of Calvary Chapel, the stories.  [see]  And he made this comment.  He says, “You know, Calvary Chapel used to be more Pentecostal in its early days.”  And then he went on to share how things just got goofy in our country with emotionalism and people getting into weird things, and doing weird things in churches.  And he says, “In response to that, Calvary Chapel got cautious, didn’t want to be associated with that, got very cautious, and kind of backed off.”  And he was explaining, and then began to tear up, just tears were in his eyes, concerned for Calvary Chapel and what he’s watching in the churches, there’s a caution with the work of the Spirit.  But he says there used to not be.  Well he shared stories, and I’m hearing these stories about the early days, and even in his church, and I’m like “Wow, man!”.  And I know, being a nerd in my previous life and present life, and I have a real conservative religious background too, and I have all those things I’ve got to fight, the analytical and then the conservatism.  But I don’t want to miss the power of God in my life.  And I don’t want the power of God to be lacking in this church.  What’s happened in Calvary Chapel is what’s happened in any church movement in the history of the Church.  There’s an emphasis on the Word of God, we’re going to be true to the Word of God and teach through the Word.  But also there’s a God whose alive and well today, and we want to emphasize the life of the Spirit, now in the present.  And these guys, the Sadducees, they had this knowledge of the Word, but they did not know the power and the work of the Spirit.  I don’t want that to be true in my life.  I don’t want that to be true of this church.  I pray for even a greater work, I think in our church there could be a greater work of the Spirit, a greater expression of the Spirit.  And we don’t want to get goofy and weird.  There’s a healthy caution.  But when we just get all kind of conservative, so much so that there’s no room for God to just work and to bless.  “You are mistaken”, oh I don’t want that to be said of me or you or this congregation.  Oh Lord, all the more in your grace pour out your Spirit upon this place.


“For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage”---a peak into the Kingdom of God


Well, he then goes on, he says “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven” (verse 30).  So now in his response, as he deals with this issue, he gives us more insight into these things.  Relationally, how do we deal with these things, and compare them in the balance?  So we have this relationship here between this life and the next life, and how it works out.  Also, the relationships in the next life, what are they like?  And some of this may encourage some of you, you know, when it comes to marriage.  For he says in the kingdom of God, we’re not going to be married.  And so some of you are thinking ‘Praise the Lord, that’s like good news to me, man.’  [laughter]  ‘It’s January 22nd, how much more time, Lord?  Maybe my day is soon.’  You’re thinking ‘Praise the Lord!’.  [I’m not thinkin’ that.]  There was a story Chuck Smith was sharing, this gal had been raised in Mormonism, and her husband was incredibly unfaithful and abusive in all sorts of ways.  And she had become very distraught.  Somebody came to Chuck and said “Hey, would you talk to this lady.”  And he sat down and met with her, and she was distraught because Mormon theology says that we’re married forever.  And she’s like ‘I’m going to be married to this guy forever?!?’  She was in just complete despair.  I’m sure Chuck took her here.  He says ‘for in the resurrection we are not married as we are today, but we’re like the angels of God in heaven.’  We’re not angels, but we’re like the angels.  Now, in some cases, you’ve got your little high school sweetheart you’ve been married to her for 40, 50 years, and you’re like ‘Bummer, man, I can’t imagine existing without my high school sweetheart.  We’ve been together forever, man!  And I thought the kingdom of heaven was supposed to be a good place.  What’s going on here?’  But what he’s showing us, we get little glimpses of heaven, the kingdom of heaven.  But the relationships in the kingdom of heaven are so much higher, and we’re going to be with God, and our relationships one with another are going to be so close and intimate, marriage would be like going down, man.  We’re all, as the Body of Christ, we’re going to be the, we’re the Bride, and Jesus is the Groom, and there’s this deal in the kingdom of heaven of closeness with all.  So we’re not married to just somebody, we’re married to Christ, we’re the Church and we’re with him.  So some of us are encouraged by that, some of us are going, ‘Well, I don’t know, man.’  And some of you have never gotten married and you’re like, ‘Come on, Lord, quick, I want to know what it’s like before you come!’.  Marriage is good.  Being single is good too [bullshit, but I’ll let you think what you like].  Well he says we will not be married in the kingdom of heaven, we’ll be like the angels. 


“I am the God of the living, not the dead”


Then he says “ But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?  God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.’  And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.”  He says, ‘You guys have the Law’, he goes right back to their five books.  He goes right back to Moses.  They were all about the religion of Moses.  He goes to the point where Moses is before the burning bush, and God speaks from the burning bush to Moses, that powerful moment.  And he quotes from Exodus chapter 3 where Moses heard God say “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”  And then Jesus says “God is not the God of the dead, he’s the God of the living.”  At that moment Abraham, Isaac and Jacob physically at that time had passed away.  But the way that wording is, when God is saying that, he’s a compassionate God, he’s a God of living people, living beings, he’s not the God of dirt, he’s the God of living beings.  Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were yet alive because he had resurrected [them].  [Comment:  As some see this doctrinally, their resurrection, technically, hadn’t taken place yet, it takes place at the 2nd coming of Christ.  But they are as good as alive, and alive in God’s eyes, looking forward to this event.  Others see it as their souls or spirit’s are alive in heaven at God’s throne right now.  There is a whole slew of beliefs within the Body of Christ about this.  To see all these differing beliefs laid out side by side, log onto:]  And then a little later in the same chapter, God says to Moses “Go tell the children of Israel”, if they’re wondering who I am, “Go tell them”, Exodus chapter 3,  verse 15, “tell them I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.”  He’s the God of the living, he’s not the God of anything that just doesn’t exist.  He’s a God that works in lives, and blesses lives.  Well, that was something that just astonished them.  It left them on their heels.  And they just didn’t know what to say.  Again they were not aware of who they were tangling with.  But that shows us something there.  When it comes to this life and the next life, I realize I’m not going to be married in the kingdom of heaven.  But there’s also, he’s saying there’s indeed a next life.  This isn’t it.  When I die this is not it, there is a resurrection.  And that is something that gives us hope and light.  In our country, I tell you, I pray these radio stations get built, I pray the Word of God goes out, because in our country today, I mean, there is a growing suppression against the Word of God.  I think it’s the strangest thing, I do not get it.  I have a technical background, I have a science background.  I don’t understand why people get so upset over this thing of Intelligent Design.  I was even reading today, this week, that in Europe, the debate has even gotten into Europe where there’s European officials standing up saying ‘Intelligent Design should not be taught in the schools, it’s not science.’  And that baffles me, I don’t understand that.  I have a science background.  Evolution has huge holes in it.  I was reading a study, about a study recently, and there were scientists, there was going to be some kind of deal about life on other planets kind of seminar/convention…But there was this situation, German scientists now were studying analytically, scientifically the probability of life on other planets.  All this was related, life on other planets.  These German scientists are going through all the probability studies and looking at basic non-life to life, and spontaneous kind of life and how do you get that?  And they’re doing this scientific study, and they came to the conclusion that it is not probable that there’s life on other planets.  They [German scientists, Yawol!] came to the conclusion that the probabilities are about zero, it really is zero that there would be life on other planets.  The interesting thing is, is they said there can’t be life on other planets if you look at it scientifically, mathematically it’s impossible.  But yet somehow, don’t say Intelligent Design, because that’s just not science.  And yet I am so complicated the way I’m designed.  I used to be a designer. I am so designed, clearly, it’s not a random thing here.  My body, my mind, my whole body.  I think it’s odd.  But, when you say evolution, you say we just happened by chance, you say we came from primeval ooze, we are just animals---and that’s why there’s so many kids that have no hope in this country.  And that’s why they do the things that they do.  We bear the fruit of that nonsense.  [For just few a proofs about Intelligent Design, log onto]  Well, I pray that the Word of God goes out, because when you know the Scriptures, you know the power of God, and we understand there’s a resurrection.  [see]  There’s a God who loves us and made us, and there’s a hope and an everlasting life.  And we get the great privilege of telling people about Christ.  When he says this, we learn in Luke chapter 20, it’s not recorded here, but he has this response to these men, he also makes this statement “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are counted worthy to attain to that age”---the resurrection, those who are counted worthy to go into that resurrection, and maybe you wonder who is worthy, and the answer to that is those who know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It says they are astonished, they’re literally, in the Greek it’s literally “they struck out.”


“Jesus, which commandment is the greatest?”


Verses 34-40, “But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.”  The word “silenced” there is “muzzled.”  “Then one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, testing him, and saying, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’  Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God will all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.’”  Or as the NIV says, “an expert on the Law”, Mark says “a scribe,” asked him a question, saying…we could go on and on with this, couldn’t we.  They’re not very wise.  They see the Sadducees strike out, and so they come up with another question here.  And this is again, I think it’s they’re trying to trap him.  You know, the religious leaders taught that in the Law of God there were 613 precepts, laws.  248 were affirmative precepts, that was the number of members of our human body they said, and 365 negative precepts, which is the number of days in the year [not the Jewish year, which only had 354 days on most years].  So 613, which is based in their Hebrew language, they say is the number of letters in the ten commandments.  That’s what they taught.  Well 613, there was also an understanding, ‘That’s hard to follow 613 laws,’ so there was a sense there were laws that were weighty and laws that were light, and you’d better hit the weighty ones.  If you needed to, you could slide on the light ones.  And that’s where I think they’re coming from.  If they can get him to come across that way, of course the Law is the Law, they could then somehow try to show that he’s rejecting or putting down some of the Law, as he heightens other parts of the Law.  His response though, again just takes care of the situation.  He says “This is the greatest commandment, to love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.”  That’s it, man.  The greatest commandment, I pray it’s true for you and true for me, that we love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and as it says in the Old Testament, strength.  He says the second one is a lot like it, he says “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  So, he responds, and now I have an understanding.  The relationship between God and my neighbors, people, family, how do I balance that?  How do I deal with that?  And he gives us wisdom here, he says ‘Love God with every bit of your life.  And then go love your neighbor as yourself,’ and you’ll go a long way, man, to getting the right balance in that way.  Well, they are trying to trap him.  He comes off with just tremendous wisdom, and as you see, and as we go on, they just can’t handle it. It’s interesting, I’ll just note here, verse 40.  He says “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”  That word “hang” is interesting.  Because in just a couple days he’s going to be hanging on a cross.  In three days he’s going to be hanging on a cross.  And it’s interesting, as you look at the cross, you see what it means to love the LORD your God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and your neighbor as yourself.  Because clearly, he obeyed the Father and went to the cross.  ‘Not my will, but your will be done, Lord, take this cup, Lord, but your will be done.’  He went to the cross because he loved God with all his heart, mind, and soul.  And why did he go to the cross, because he loved you and I.  He died for our sin.  He hung on the cross.  And by hanging on the cross, it’s because he did that, that I now can actually fulfill the Law and live in the Spirit according to the Law.  So, on these two commandments, it’s interesting, the wording, on these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. 


Jesus Delivers the Knock-out Punch


Well, finally, knock out punch, as we’re at the end of our time.  They’ve been toying with him, and I just think he has a little fun at this point.  Verses 41-46, “While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, ‘What do you think about the Christ?  Whose Son is he?’  They said to him, ‘The Son of David.’  He said to them, ‘How then does David in the Spirit call him ‘Lord,’ saying:  ‘The LORD said to my Lord, sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool’?  If David then calls him ‘Lord,’ how is he his Son?’  And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question him anymore.”  He says this, ‘You guys tried tangling with me, let’s reverse the tables here.  The Messiah, the Christ, whose Son is he?’  They say, ‘Of course, he’s the Son of David.’  He says, ‘Alright, Psalm 110, you believe’ (and the religious Jew did), ‘you believe this is about the Messiah, Psalm 110, you believe David is speaking about the Messiah.  Then how does this work out?  David said ‘The LORD said to my Lord’ meaning the Messiah ‘sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool.’  Now if David is calling him LORD, the Messiah, how can he be calling him LORD when he’s his son, in the sense that he’s a descendant?  In that patriarchal society, culturally, it was a no-no for a father to say Lord to his son, or any of his descendants, that just was not right in that society, that was strange, it was always the other way.  But here’s David saying to a descendant, they say it’s a descendant, a son of David, the Messiah, calling him Lord.  How does that work out?  They don’t even know what to do with that.  And they’re just like, ‘Ah, I don’t know.’  And ‘Duh.’  And so they didn’t dare question him anymore.  But, he’s actually at the same time, showing them a bit about his nature, because he’s the Son of God.  He’s the creator of the heavens and the earth, yet he came down as a man, born into the descendants of, the lineage of David, and was therefore the offspring of David.  And the answer, the description is in Revelation 22, verse 16, says it exactly.  Revelation 22, verse 16, “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you these things in the churches.  I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”  He is the Root, he is the creator, he is the Son of God---I am the root of David.  That’s how David came is because of him.  But yet at the same time, he’s his Offspring.  The only way you get that is when you’ve got God-man, the Son of God, as a man.  Thanks for being patient, we went a little bit over.  Let’s close in prayer…[transcript of connective expository sermon given on Matthew 22:15-46, given somewhere in New England]


Related links:


Sequence of events leading up to the crucifixion:


We’re loosing our Constitutional rights as believers in the U.S.:


The start of Calvary Chapels:


Proofs for Intelligent Design:


The Resurrection to Immortality, Eternal Life: