11 March 2014

BSF 2013-2014: Matthew 22:15-23:39

Are you a hypocrite? No one would like to admit it, but I would venture to say there are areas where all of us don’t practice what we preach. There is a great danger in hypocrisy for a Christian because our two-faced lives can pull people away from God.

In this passage, Jesus confronts the religious leaders with their hypocrisy. They were unwilling to see their sin and change. What about you? What are the areas of hypocrisy in your life? Are you willing to change?

The religious leaders ask Jesus if the Jews should pay a tax. Jesus knows the leaders are trying to trap Jesus because there is not a good way to answer this question. If He said yes, the people could say Jesus was disloyal to God. If He said no, Jesus would be arrested for stirring up the people toward rebellion. Jesus sees the leaders’ hearts and exposes their evil intents.

He instructs His followers to “give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21). Christians today also must submit to earthly authorities unless they require us to sin against God. We should honor, love and pray for our government leaders. What a challenge in these times of political corruption and disappointment!

Next the Sadducees approach Jesus with a question. The Sadducees only believe in the first five books of the Bible. They don’t believe in the resurrection, yet they ask Jesus about a widow at the resurrection.

Jesus responds using proofs from Exodus, one of the first five books of the Bible. He knows the Sadducees’ hearts, and He exposes their lack of knowledge of the Scriptures and of God’s power. Jesus explains that the resurrection is true, and the Sadducees should believe it.

Then a teacher of the law asks Jesus which is the greatest commandment. Jesus responds by saying to love the Lord your God with all of your heart (purpose), all of your soul (emotions), all of your mind (thoughts) and all of your strength (physical energies). The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. All of the other commandments hang on these two.

Without a relationship with God, we cannot love others unconditionally the way God wants us to. If you truly love God, then you will love others.

Next it was Jesus’ turn to ask a question. He asks the Pharisees about the Messiah. The Pharisees know the Messiah was the son of David. But Jesus asks if David calls the Messiah Lord, how can He be David’s son? The Messiah is fully God and fully man. The Pharisees can’t recognize that Jesus is the promised Messiah.

The religious leaders were tasked with giving out the Word of God and also were required to obey it. But they did not obey God in these things. Jesus tells the people to follow the leaders’ teachings but not to follow their actions because they don’t practice what they preach.

Because of their sin, Jesus pronounces woes on the Pharisees. They are hypocrites and are not leading the people appropriately. The Pharisees are only concerned about the outward appearance, but Jesus is concerned about their hearts.

Things to Think About
  • God calls us to have a full devotion to Him. Am I only partially devoted to God?
  • How am I doing at loving others?
  • If I don’t love my brothers, I don’t really have God’s love in my heart.
  • Will my example lead others to Christ? Or am I a hypocrite like the Pharisees?
  • The religious leaders wanted to be seen by others. Am I bringing attention to God or to myself?
  • Where am I not practicing what I preach? Am I the same person everywhere I go?
  • If God was the only one to see what I do, would I still do it (Colossians 3:17)?