In a prior lesson, we saw that the Pharisees questioned Jesus’ authority for clearing out the Temple in Matt 21. In response to their question, he trapped them by asking a question regarding John’s baptism that they refused to answer for fear of incrimination. While he had their audience he preached several parables against them. In retaliation, the Pharisees took counsel how they might entangle Jesus in his talk. They tried to trick him into answering three questions in such a way that they could use his own words against him. Here are the subjects of the three questions:
The Tribute Money – v 16-22
The Herodians questioned Jesus about the lawfulness of paying tribute money to Caesar. They figured that he would say it was not lawful to pay tribute to him because of Deut 17:14-15. Thus, if he answered “No,” they could accuse him to Pilate (Lk 20:20). Instead, he gave them nothing that they could use against him. So, at his trial, they had to present false witnesses who accused Jesus on the subject of tribute money (Lk 23:2).
In fact, the Jews could not be bound by their own law to pay tribute money. Nevertheless, when the subject had come up with Peter before, Jesus paid the tribute to keep from offending the collectors (Matt 17:24-27). Hence, the accusation of the false witnesses was an absolute lie!
Jesus called these Herodians hypocrites because they feigned themselves to be like his disciples (Lk 20:20). Actually, they were spies. In truth their hypocrisy went deeper than their pretense. They complied with the Roman government (Jn 11:48). Consequently, in Jn 19:15, they rejected their Jewish king in favor of Caesar, in total disobedience to their own law.
Marriage in the Resurrection v 22-33
This was a funny question coming from the Sadducees who didn’t believe in the resurrection (v 23; Acts 23:8). Their hypothetical question concerned the eternal marriage of a woman who had been married to seven different brothers in her lifetime, in accordance with Deut 25:5-6.
Jesus response to their question addressed the two main problems with the Sadducees. They were ignorant of the scriptures and they were ignorant of the power of God. God has the power to raise the dead which was recorded throughout the scripture (1 Ki 17:17-23; 2 Ki 4:18-37; Lk 7:11-15; Jn 11; etc). Thus when Jesus died, God raised him from the dead (Acts 5:30).
A study of and a belief in the words of God would have revealed to the Sadducees that there would indeed be a resurrection of the dead. When God spoke to Moses in the desert, he said, I am the father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Those men were still alive, though their bodies were dead. They were in Abraham’s bosom according to Luke 16:19-31. Following the resurrection of Jesus, their souls were taken out of Abraham’s bosom and were taken to heaven (Eph 4:8-10). At the Second Coming of Jesus, their bodies will come out of the grave to join their souls as prophesied in Eze 37:1-14.
Once raised, saints don’t marry. Jesus said they are as the angels in heaven. Well, the angels in heaven are all male. When they show up on earth, they appear as men (Gen 18-19; Jos 5:13-15; Jud 13:2-7; etc) which is how we will appear (1 Jn 3:1-2). Those angels that did try to marry (Gen 6:1-4) left their own habitation and lost their first estate (Jude 6) and wound up in hell in chains of darkness waiting to be judged (2 Pet 2:4).
The Law v 34-40
Finally, a lawyer thought he could trip Jesus up on a question of the law. The question concerned the great commandment. Jesus answered directly from Deut 6:5-6 for the first and great commandment and he answered from Lev 19:18 for the second commandment. Then he said, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Paul agreed (1 Tim 1:5; Rom 13:10).
In truth, if you love the Lord with all of your heart, soul and mind, you won’t have other gods before him, you won’t worship images, you won’t take his name in vain, and you will keep his day holy. If you love your neighbor, you won’t steal, kill, lie, covet or commit adultery and you will honor your father and mother.
Can you see what’s happening today? God’s law is out, iniquity abounds and the love of many is waxing cold (Matt 24:12).