Friday, October 17. Matthew 22 – 24

Matthew 23 will bring to a climax Jesus’ dealings with his enemies. There, the Lord will pronounce judgment on them for their hypocrisy. Before we get to that conclusion, we have the rejection of Jesus by his enemies in chapter 21, and the challenge to Jesus by those enemies in chapter 22 with, ultimately, Jesus establishing his authority as the Son of God at the end of that chapter.

Chapter 22 is occupied in the main with the challenges to Jesus’ authority. Three groups of opponents, Pharisees, Sadducees, and teachers of the law come to pose (what they believe are) unanswerable questions to Jesus. Jesus bests them at their own game every time.

Then Jesus goes on the offensive: “Who is the Messiah”? he asks the Pharisees (who got the whole confrontation started in the first place). They reply that he is simply a descendant of David. Jesus replies with scripture: “How can he be just David’s son when David, speaking of the Messiah, calls him ‘Lord’?” Though the Pharisees refuse to answer, the point is plain: they refuse to acknowledge the authority of the messiah. Here the questions stop, but the opposition does not. They are determined to have their way even if their way violates scripture and leads to murder.

Through it all, Matthew makes a subtle point: Christians, like everyone else, have their customs, traditions, preconceived notions and prejudices. All of these get in the way of God’s rule and when they do, we cease to be God’s kingdom. The focus should be on loving God first, and then loving our neighbor. Both of these have to be done God’s way, not ours. When we are inattentive to the greatest commands, we have more in common with the opponents of Jesus than with his disciples.