We have reached the third question of the leaders of Judaism that is designed to trap Jesus. The first question had to do with paying taxes to Caesar the second question had to do with the resurrection and now the third question is focused on what is the greatest of all the commandments. Now we are back to the Pharisees.
The first question had political emphasis now this question is mainly theological in nature.
Which is the greatest commandment? They were not asking this question in reference to only the Ten Commandments, Judaism recognized 613 commandments from the books of Moses. It is the massive number of commandments that Judaism recognized that they have in mind when asking this question.
During Jesus’ day the Rabbis and Pharisees engaged in discussions concerning these commands seeking to determine what they called heavy and light commands. This means about what you think it means. According to them there were some laws that were central and some that were fringe or some very important while others not so important.
Jesus has already taught us His view of the law of God…Read More
So far everything is going great. God said Aaron would help and there he is ready to help. The Elders, that Moses said wouldn’t believe him actually believe and a worship service begins. Everything seems to be going according to plan.
Now, Moses and Aaron are off to tell Pharoah what God said to tell him…let My people go so they can worship Me.
Pharoah says sure, sounds like a good idea…No, he says He does not know God nor will he let the people go…
1. I Do Not Know the Lord… a Delusion of Deity
5 Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.’ ” 2 But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.” 3 Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God, lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.” 4 But the king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people away from their work? Get back to your burdens.” 5 And Pharaoh said, “Behold, the people of the land are now many, and you make them rest from their burdens!” 6 The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their foremen, 7 “You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as in the past; let them go and gather straw for themselves. 8 But the number of bricks that they made in the past you shall impose on them, you shall by no means reduce it, for they are idle. Therefore they cry, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.’ 9 Let heavier work be laid on the men that they may labor at it and pay no regard to lying words.”
Here, we are shown the central focus of Exodus again, who is the Lord? Pharoah thinks he is the Lord. The Egyptians think Pharoah is the Lord. In their worship of many gods including Pharoah, they think they are all gods to be worshipped.
Yet, God has already told Moses at the burning bush that He is the Lord. Who is the Lord? He’s the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob. He is the Great I Am. He is Yahweh, the God of the covenant. He is the self-existent, eternal God. He is the Father of Israel. That’s who God is, not Pharoah.
Truth Taught- Jesus teaches that the Resurrection is truth found in both Old and New Testaments
Today, we are going to look at a second question put forth from those religious elite to entrap Jesus in His words. Just like last time, they would be astonished at His answer. Last time it was the Pharisees who asked Jesus about whether or not they should pay taxes to Caesar. We learned that part of Roman practice was to worship Caesar as God and that was placed on the coin they used to pay the tax. Jesus, replied that they should pay but that’s it, never worship Caesar. Worship is rendered unto God alone.
Our current passage has the Sadducees trying to ensnare Jesus with yet another question. In order to better understand what’s happening here, we need to understand a little more about who the Sadducees were. They were the liberal theologians of the day. They didn’t believe in anything supernatural, angels, or the resurrection of the dead. One other thing that is relevant to the text today is that they only recognized the first five books of the Bible as Scripture…the Books of Moses.
They were like many of our modern so-called theologians who teach basically the same things or at least many of the same things.
Theological Liberalism today denies the authority and inspiration of the Scriptures, Supernatural, Angels, Resurrection, Miracles of Jesus, and objective truth.
It’s a movement that interprets Christian teaching by taking into consideration modern knowledge, science and ethics. It emphasizes the importance of reason and experience over doctrinal authority.Read More
God has laid out His plan, who He is and how it will be executed. Now the attention in Chapter 4 focuses on Moses. Moses gives God two reasons why this is a bad idea. I wonder have you ever been reluctant to follow God? Have you ever read in the Scriptures what God’s will is in a certain area and then been stubborn to obey? Well, we must seek to follow God in whatever He commands and yet we can understand a little of Moses’ hesitancy.
Here’s his first objection…
1. Moses’ First Objection…The Israelite Elders Will Not Believe Me
4 Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’ ” 2 The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” 3 And he said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it. 4 But the Lord said to Moses, “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail”—so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand— 5 “that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” 6 Again, the Lord said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” And he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. 7 Then God said, “Put your hand back inside your cloak.” So he put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. 8 “If they will not believe you,” God said, “or listen to the first sign, they may believe the latter sign. 9 If they will not believe even these two signs or listen to your voice, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”
Moses is very reluctant and even offers God his objection…they will not believe me. Moses is very concerned that they will not listen to him. Perhaps it’s because of his past history in Egypt being the adopted son of the King who has enslaved them? Perhaps they will think it’s a trap. Maybe, his further reluctance had to do with how he left Egypt after he was seen as a murderer and the fact that Pharoah was hot on his trail to kill him as well?
We are not specifically told why he thought they would not believe. Maybe the news would just be too good to be true. The Israelites have been slaves for 400 years.
Truth Taught- Jesus tells us that we are to financially support the government God has placed over us but we must never worship it. Worship is God’s alone
Last time we looked at the Parable of the Wedding Feast. That was the third of a series or trilogy of three parables that Jesus told about the Kingdom of Heaven. The general conclusion or point to each parable was that the current caretakers were not producing the fruit of the Kingdom and God was about to remove the Kingdom from them and give it to new tenants who would produce the appropriate fruit, namely Justice and Righteousness.
Now, we are moving on to a trilogy of questions. The religious elite are going to put Jesus to a test or as Matthew tells us, a trap. We must realize something here, they are not asking out of genuine concern or desiring to know what Jesus has to say, they have formulated these questions so that whatever answer He gives, they can trap Him in His words.
The first question we will look at today.
The Jews, like it or not, were under Roman control. Rome was in charge and any freedom the Jew had was a benevolent gesture from the Empire and could be rescinded at any time. The patriotic Jew hated Rome. There was the occasional outbreak of Jewish defiance even a revolt or two sprung up over the years. The longer they were under Roman control the more they detested the pagans with their idolatrous symbols that they had displayed all over the Holy City. Some had even been hung in the Temple from time to time. The Jews hated Rome.
One freedom Rome had given the Jews was that they still had the freedom to worship in their temple the way they saw fit. The only thing Rome was really interested in was that the Jews paid their taxes. So, there was the taxes everyone had to pay to Caesar then there was the Temple Tax. The taxes paid to Caesar was paid in Roman coinage. Rome allowed the Jews to mint their own coins to be used in the Temple.
The Jews refused to allow Roman money to used in the Temple area because, mainly, the coins had the profile of Caesar, in this case Tiberius, and had the inscription, Divi Filius or Son of God. These coins went against everything the Jew stood for. They reminded them that they were in subjugation to Rome, they went against all they saw as right, they went against their tradition to not have a graven image.