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124. The royal wedding feast (Matthew 22:1-40.22.14)
Throughout the Old Testament period and into the New, God sent his messengers to Israel, but the people ignored his message. God was like a king who invited people to a wedding feast for his son, but when the time for the feast arrived, they refused to come (Matthew 22:1-40.22.5). This was a picture of the refusal of the Jews to accept Jesus’ message and enter the kingdom of God. Their rejection of Jesus would bring God’s judgment upon them and result in the destruction of Jerusalem (Matthew 22:6-40.22.7). Meanwhile, the invitation that the Jews refused went to the Gentiles instead, and there was a great response (Matthew 22:8-40.22.10).
However, not all the people who responded to the invitation were genuine. Some were like the man who thought he would like to go to the feast, but was either too lazy or too busy with his own affairs to prepare himself properly. The king had issued an invitation to all, but he denied entrance to those who wanted to gain the benefits of his feast without changing their self-centred ways. Jesus invited all to enter his kingdom, but there was no place for those who said they believed but showed no change in their attitudes and behaviour (Matthew 22:11-40.22.14; cf. 7:21-23; 11:29; 13:20-21; 16:24).
125. A question about paying taxes (Matthew 22:15-40.22.22; Mark 12:13-41.12.17; Luke 20:19-42.20.26)
The Herodians were a group of Jews who, unlike most Jews, were favourable to the rule of the Herods and therefore (indirectly) to the rule of Rome. Normally, they had little in common with the Pharisees, but the two groups were willing to cooperate in an attempt to trap Jesus. They asked him was it lawful for Jews to pay taxes to Rome (Matthew 22:15-40.22.17; Luke 20:19-42.20.22).
If Jesus replied ‘Yes’, the Pharisees would accuse him before the Jewish people of being a traitor. If he answered ‘No’, the Herodians would accuse him before the Roman authorities of treason. Jesus replied that duty to God and duty to civil authorities are not in opposition. People owe to each a debt for the services and benefits they receive. They should give to civil authorities that which is due to them, and give to God all that they owe him (Matthew 22:18-40.22.22; Luke 20:23-42.20.26).
126. Marriage and the resurrection (Matthew 22:23-40.22.33; Mark 12:18-41.12.27; Luke 20:27-42.20.40)
Next a group of Sadducees came to Jesus with a question. According to the law of Moses, if a man died childless, his brother was to have a temporary marital relationship with the widow for the purpose of producing an heir (Deuteronomy 25:5-5.25.6). The question put by the Sadducees concerned an unlikely situation where a widow would meet seven husbands, all brothers, in the resurrection. Since Sadducees did not believe in any form of life after death, their question was intended to make fun of Jesus and the doctrine of the resurrection (Luke 20:27-42.20.33). (For other beliefs of the Sadducees see earlier section, ‘The New Testament World’.)
Jesus told the Sadducees that their question was without meaning, because Israel’s laws applied only to life in the present physical world. Life in the age to come is not a continuation of present earthly life, but is a different kind of life altogether (Luke 20:34-42.20.36; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:35-46.15.44).
To show that life after death was a fact they could not deny, Jesus quoted from the book of Exodus (which, being part of the Pentateuch, was one of the few parts of the Scriptures that the Sadducees read). Long after Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had died, the Scriptures spoke of God as having a living personal relationship with them. They must therefore still be living, even though their bodies are dead and buried (Luke 20:37-42.20.38; cf. Exodus 3:6). Some of the scribes (probably Pharisees) were impressed with Jesus’ answer and were pleased to see the Sadducees silenced (Luke 20:39-42.20.40).
127. The greatest commandment (Matthew 22:34-40.22.40; Mark 12:28-41.12.34)
When a teacher of the law asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment, Jesus gave an answer that went beyond what the questioner expected. All the commandments of the law could be summarized under the word ‘love’. A person’s first responsibility is to love God; the second is to love one’s fellow human beings. The fact that people are commanded to love shows that love is primarily a matter of doing, not feeling. It is an attitude of loyal obedience that governs a person’s mind, will and emotions (Mark 12:28-41.12.31; cf. Deuteronomy 6:4-5.6.5; Leviticus 19:18).
The questioner immediately saw that such a requirement as this was greater than all the requirements of the sacrificial system. He realized that God required change within people’s hearts more than formal obedience to ceremonial laws. He began to see what many of the Jews failed to see, and in so doing made definite progress towards the kingdom of God (Mark 12:32-41.12.34).
128. Who is the Messiah? (Matthew 22:41-40.22.46; Mark 12:35-41.12.37; Luke 20:41-42.20.44)
Some of the questions that Jesus’ opponents put to him were unimportant, even senseless. He now put to them the really important question: what was their view of the Messiah? Jews understood the Messiah to be the son (descendant) of David, but thought of him almost solely as a political figure who would rule Israel in a golden age. Jesus wanted to show that this view was inadequate. The Messiah was far more than the son of David (Matthew 22:41-40.22.42).
Jesus referred his hearers to Psalm 110, a psalm that Jews of his time regarded as messianic. The psalm had been written a thousand years earlier, to be sung by the temple singers in praise of King David after he conquered Jerusalem and established his throne there. But the person who wrote the words was David himself; and, as Jesus pointed out, they were written under the inspiration of the Spirit in praise of the Messiah. This means that the opening words of the psalm, where the temple singers expressed homage to David by calling him ‘my Lord’, were the same words by which David expressed homage to the Messiah. The Messiah, who everyone knew was David’s descendant, was also David’s Lord. The Messiah was not only an earthly figure but also a divine figure (Matthew 22:43-40.22.45; cf. Acts 2:34-44.2.36).
The people understood, at least to some extent, the meaning of Jesus’ words and dared not try to trick him with any more questions. He was telling them, yet again, that his work was not to revive and expand the old earthly kingdom of Israel, but to establish an entirely different kind of kingdom, the kingdom of God (Matthew 22:46).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Matthew 22". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent