“When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.”
– Matthew 22:22
As we already saw, Jesus has started facing his most significant battles of questioning and criticism from the religious leaders. They have had enough of this miracle-worker and teacher – they needed to get rid of him.
In this chapter, we see another parable that Jesus gives to the religious leaders as well as the questioning that the religious teachers develop in order that they may trap him.
Jesus continues his critique of the religious leaders by giving them one more parable to describe their rejection. Similar to the last parable, this one describes Israel’s and the religious leaders’ rejection of the Messiah. Though Jesus is using the imagery of a banquet to prove his point, such a banquet will actually take place during the last days ().
In this parable, the servants are God’s messengers – the prophets. They have gone and invited the guests to God’s banquet, but these guests – the people of Israel – have refused to come. Instead, the King sends his servants to go out and gather anyone who would come for the banquet. This is the inclusion of all believers in the body of Christ.
It would be customary for wedding clothes to be provided to those who had none. The man at the wedding who did not have wedding garments on would have refused the garments that were provided. This act would deserve punishment because it is a refusal of identifying with the banquet. Of course, this does not mean that we have to wear some sort of sacred garments to be identified with Christ, but it should be outwardly evident that we identify with Christ because of our actions. The man in the parable was not outwardly identified with the banquet celebration.
Jesus’ statements were humiliating to the religious leaders because he exposed their failure. Now they plotted to arrest and kill Jesus. In this section, we see that they tried to question him in various ways hoping to find some way to arrest him for what he said.
The Pharisees’ first attempt to trap Jesus was by asking him if he believed it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus’ answer is important because it could have consequences either way he answers. If he answers by saying “yes”, he would be shunned for conspiring with the Roman oppressors. However, if he said “no”, the Pharisees may charge him with conspiring against the Roman government. When Jesus responded that what is Caesar’s should be given to Caesar, he shows that respecting government authority is an important part of being a disciple. We may not always agree with what the government says or does, but God has placed them in authority over us. The only exception is when the government is acting in a way that is contrary to Scripture.
Jesus, however, did not stop there. He also said that what is God’s should be given back to God. This could refer to giving of our tithes and offerings, but I think the meaning is much more important. Just as the coin was stamped with the image and inscription of Caesar, only one thing is stamped with the image and inscription of God – ourselves. We must give ourselves back to God. We are his possession and we must live in obedience to him.
When the Sadducees came and asked Jesus their question about marriage and the resurrection, they contradict their own belief system. The Sadducees did not believe there would be a resurrection from the dead, but their question was about marriage after the resurrection. Jesus responds that marriage will not be necessary in heaven. The main reason for this is because there will only be one marriage in heaven – the marriage of the bride of Christ with the bridegroom. Marriage on earth is only a shadow of that glorious day when we dine at the marriage supper of the lamb.
Jesus also refutes the Sadducees belief that there would be no resurrection. Jesus points to the very words of God in the Old Testament and shows that God is not a God of the dead, but he is the God of the living.
The lawyer’s question was not as harsh as the other questions used to try and trick Jesus. This one was more of a test of his orthodoxy. It would be difficult for Jesus to narrow down the hundreds of laws in the Old Testament to a single, overarching commandment. He needed to be careful not to neglect a law in his summary. Both the commands that Jesus gives are important and relate to one another and the law as a whole. The first command is to love God – this is the supreme command. Out of that love should automatically come the love for neighbor. It is because of our love for God that we should love one another. These two commands summarize the entirety of the law in that it summarizes the reason for any God-ward law and any man-ward law.
Jesus turns the tables and asks the Pharisees a question of his own. The Pharisees reply with an expected answer – the Messiah is the son of David. is a Messianic prophecy from a Psalm written by David. The first Lord mentioned in the prophecy is God the Father. This Lord speaks to another Lord and tells him to sit at his right hand. This second Lord is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The second Lord in the prophecy is described as David’s Lord. Jesus shows that the Messiah cannot be David’s direct son, but one who would be his Lord. Jesus is a “son of David” in that he comes from the line of David, but he is also David’s Lord.