LIFE OF THE MESSIAH – 015
DR. ARNOLD G. FRUCHTENBAUM
VII. THE OFFICIAL PRESENTATION OF THE KING
A. The Arrival in Bethany
Paragraph 128a – John 11:55 – 12:1, 9-11
Turn in your Harmony to paragraph 128; on your outline to page 13. We now begin the seventh main division of His life, the official presentation of the King, which also leads to an official rejection, comprising paragraphs 128 to paragraph 138. In paragraph 128a we have the arrival in Bethany, and I’ll be giving you at this point the Jewish dates.
It is Friday, one week before He dies and it is the eighth of the Jewish month called Nisan, N-i-s-a-n, and correlating this to the Gentile calendar that we use this is March 31, AD 30. Bethany is located in the lower eastern slopes of the Mount of Olives; it’s an easy walk from Bethany over the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem and as you walk in front the Bethany on the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem you go by another town, Bethphage, and both of these play a role in the next paragraph.
I’ve already noted in the… concerning the resurrection of Lazarus the (?) had been decided to put Jesus to death and this decision to put Him to death begins filtering down to the masses because John 11:57 says, “Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given commandment, that, if any man knew where He was, he should show it, that they might take Him.” And they want to be able to take Him and to have Him killed.
The Passover, John 11:55, is the fourth Passover mentioned in His public ministry, so four Passovers make three years of actual active ministry. Jesus was baptized roughly about a half a year earlier; that’s why you’ll hear people say His ministry was three and a half years long. But the active ministry was almost exactly three years.
Now John specifies in John 12:1, giving us the exact time element, “six days before the Passover,” this would be the Passover that He will die. When the people begin hearing about His presence in Bethany they begin to congregate, in John 12:9, not only because He was there but also in verse 9, “that they might see Lazarus also, whom He raised from the dead.” And while there had been previous resurrections by others besides Jesus, as in the Old Testament, what’s unique about this resurrection is it happened on the fourth day and which in rabbinic theology would not be allowed to happen unless the Messiah came. The raising of Lazarus became the first sign of Jonah, which requires a three day period.
But notice how emotionally and illogically the leaders are responding. Already in John 11:57 we mention “the chief priests and the Pharisees.” The chief priests, by the way, were Sadducees, but now they in particular take the action of John 12:10, “But the chief priests,” who were Sadducees, “took counsel that they might put Lazarus also to death.” Now why did they want to put Lazarus to death for? And John 12:11 says “because by reason of him many of the Jews went away, believing on Jesus.” Because Lazarus was so inconsiderate and allowed himself to be resurrected from the dead; that’s offending Pharisaic sensitivities. So they’re going to put Lazarus to death and see if they could keep him dead the second time around when they couldn’t keep him dead the first time around.
But as a result of the first sign of Jonah, notice is that one hand many do believe among the common people. Once again the leaders find reasons and ways of rejecting Him.
B. The Triumphal Entry
Paragraph 128 b – Mark 11:1-11; Matthew 21:1-11; Luke 19:29-44; John 12:12-19
Now paragraph 128b we come to the triumphal entry; it’s now the tenth of Nisan, April 2, AD 30. Now what is significant about the tenth of Nisan in accordance with the Mosaic Law is this: on the tenth of Nisan, that’s when the Passover lamb was to be set aside from the rest of the flock; that’s the importance of this day. The Passover lamb was to be set aside from the rest of the flock, and from the tenth until the fourteenth day of the month the lamb would be tested to make sure it was without spot and without blemish.
Now the significance of this rite is not, as has sometimes been taught that we have here, a re-offer of the Messianic Kingdom. As you look what He says within the four Gospels He never re-offers the Messianic Kingdom to them. Now keep in mind, various other Jewish people in this context are proclaiming Him to be that Messiah, not the leaders but masses of common people. But nothing He says, as we’re going to see, can be construed to be a re-offer of the Kingdom. And furthermore, when He does speak, He speaks words of judgment, continuing the principle of a coming fall of the city that’s been in place ever since paragraph 61.
Now again, between Bethany and Jerusalem you have the town of Bethphage, and to go back to town He sends His disciples in to fetch a colt upon which no one has ever ridden on. The end of Mark 11:2, “a colt tied, whereon no man ever yet sat.” What’s often missed here is that we have here what we call a minor miracle or it may be called a Texan miracle; it’s never been ridden before so what would it normally do? It would buck, but the animal does not buck. Here we have a Texas-size miracle. And if anybody objects to them taking the animal away they are simply to tell them, “The Lord hath need of them,” in Matthew 21:3 and that would be sufficient to allow the animal to go.
Notice John’s account, John 12:12, “On the morrow a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took the branches of the palm trees, and went forth to meet Him,” (?) disciple… the other Gospel writers merely mention tree branches, John is very specific what kind of branches these were; these were “palm branches.” And that shows something significant because you generally do not spread out palm branches at the time of the Passover; that’s what you do at the time of Tabernacles, which was not in the spring but in the fall.
Furthermore, they cry out in John 12:13, “Hosanna.” Now Hosanna is simply the Hellenized form for the Hebrew Hoshanna: Hoshanna, save us now; with the “s” sound hardened because there’s no “sh” sound in Greek. Now there are a series of prayers in Judaism known as the Hoshanna prayers, but again those Hoshanna prayers are prayed at a time of the Feast of Tabernacles, not at the time of the Feast of the Passover. What we’re saying here is that multitudes are making the same mistake that Peter made at the Transfiguration. They’re making the faulty assumption that He’s about to set up the Messianic Kingdom and therefore saying things, and acting, and doing things that would normally not be done at the Passover but at Tabernacles. They’re assuming the fulfillment of Tabernacles, the Messianic Kingdom, is about to be set up.
So John quotes them as saying, “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.” Notice the phrase, “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord;” in the first century Jewish context that was the official Messianic greeting. The rabbis were teaching that whenever the Messiah comes He must be welcomed with these words, for they come out of a Messianic psalm in the Old Testament, Psalm 118:26, the same psalm that says the stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner stone.
So they’re doing things, but also saying things, that clearly indicate that they believe He’s about to erect the Messianic Kingdom when He finishes the ride. And so Mark says in Mark 11:9, “Hosanna,” Hoshanna, “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.” End of Matthew 21:9, “Hoshanna to the son of David: Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord: Hoshanna in the highest.” In Hebrew that’s Hoshanna (?) and these are the titles of the prayers you pray at Tabernacles, yet they’re using these things at the Passover season. Hoshanna (?). Now Luke says in Luke 19:38, “Blessed is the King that comes in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.” Notice these are all technical terms being used for welcoming the Messiah; these are terms used in reference to the Messianic Kingdom. They’re anticipating Him to fulfill the Messianic Kingdom.
But there is no re-offer of the Messianic Kingdom; once the unpardonable sin was rejected it remains unpardonable. And so the theological significance of the ride to Jerusalem on this occasion was not a re-offer of the Messianic Kingdom but this is the setting aside of the Passover Lamb of God on the very same day the literal animals, the literal lambs, were being set aside. And like the animals, He too, as we shall see this evening, undergo a time of testing between the tenth and the fourteenth day of the month.
You recall in history the Jewish people only did this two other occasions, both in reference to the Maccabee brothers, first of all, in behalf of Judah Maccabee, in 2 Maccabees 10:7; and later on to his brother Simon, the last of the Maccabee brothers still living, in 1 Maccabees 13:51. But in both these brother’s cases it followed a victory against the Greek Syrians. Here there has been no military conquest at all. But they are anticipating the Messianic Kingdom to be set up.
Now while the people are proclaiming His Messiahship, notice what the leaders do in Luke’s account, Luke 19:39-40, there’s still massive rejection. And Jesus says even if I quiet the multitudes as you ask Me to do, “the stones will cry out.” On this day, the day the Passover Lamb of God was set aside there must be a verbal testimony to His Messianic claims.
Insofar as the city, notice the prophecy in Luke 19:41, “And when He drew nigh, He saw the city and wept over it,  saying, If you had known in this day, even you, the things which belong unto peace! But now they are hid from your eyes.  For they will come upon you, when your enemy will cast up a bank about you, an compass you round, and keep you in on every side,  and shall dash you to the ground, and your children within you; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another; because you did not know the time of your visitation.” And notice it is the continuation of the judgment that’s been in place ever since paragraph 61, to be fulfilled in AD 70.
Matthew 21:10 says, “And when He was come into Jerusalem, all the city was stirred,” the Greek word is much stronger; it means to be shaken as if by an earthquake. And there was general understanding of the significance of this day. Matthew points out in Matthew 21:15, again the leaders “were moved with indignation,” and He will not accept their challenge to quiet the multitudes down. The acceptance of His praise by the multitudes shows He’s accepting their claims about Him.
When the ride is finished, notice what does not happen? No Messianic Kingdom is erected. He simply went back to the town of Bethany, end of Matthew 21:17 and Mark 11:11, He simply went back to Bethany. They lost out on this privilege in light of the unpardonable sin.
C. The Authority of the King
Paragraph 129a – Mark 11:12-18; Matthew 21:18, 18, 12, 13; Luke 19:45-48
1. The Cursing of the Fig Tree
We now come to the authority of the king in paragraph 129a; the date is now the eleventh of Nisan, April 3, AD 30. It is now Monday. The ride was on Sunday. What happens is the cursing of the fig tree and one statement that gives people a difficulty is found in Mark 11:13, “And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, He came, if haply He might find anything thereon,” and He finds nothing because at the end of verse 13 Mark says “it was not the season for figs.”
If it was not the season for figs then why would He curse the fig tree? It wasn’t supposed to have figs at this point of time. But the fig trees in Israel, when the leaves come out along with the leaves there are little buds that come out with it and those buds are edible, and the figs come out about six weeks later. And that would be about mid-June. The fact that this fig tree had these leaves meant it also should have had those nodules that were edible and could be eaten. What He found when He went over there, there was nothing there for Him to partake of. And so the fig tree was making a profession of something it did not have. And in this context it becomes a picture for Israel. Israel also has become fruitless and therefore falls under a curse.
Now Mark says at the end of Mark 11:14, “from henceforward forever,” the basic Greek word means for an age; for a period of time, for an age; for an age Israel will prove to be a fruitless son.
Also notice the mixture between His humanity and His deity; Matthew 21:18 says “He hungered,” showing His humanity. And the (?) of victory they’ll witness within twenty-four hours a display of His deity.
The Possession of the Temple - Paragraph 129b
Now in paragraph 129b we have a second element, the possession of the temple, same day, the eleventh of Nisan, April 30, AD 30. When He first went public with His ministry in the Passover three years ago He went public by cleansing the temple, and now at the last Passover of His public ministry He does so again, exercising His Messianic authority over the temple, showing His authority to cleanse, authority to possess, and authority to say God (?). And while He repeats certain things from the previous time there are a couple of elements which are new; for example, this time He doesn’t let anybody pass through the temple compound. And so He takes control of the temple compound and nobody is able to pass through it. He overthrows the moneychanger’s tables and the sacrifice (?) in Matthew 15 [?Mark 11:15 & Matthew 21:12?] which once again overthrows the private business venture of Annas, the high priest.
Now Mark says in Mark 11:18, “And the chief priests and the scribes heard it, and sought how they might destroy Him: for they feared Him, for all the multitude were astonished at His teaching.” And they were looking for an opportunity to have Him arrested away from the multitudes that were following Him. And Luke says in Luke 19:47, “And He was teaching daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people sought to destroy Him,  for they could not find what they might do; for the people all hung unto Him, listening.” So they needed an opportunity to arrest Jesus when He was away from the multitudes and Judas will shortly provide that opportunity. But fear of His influence among the people keeps them from taking action too quickly right away.
D. The Invitations by the King
Paragraph 130 – John 12:20-50
1. The Invitation – John 12:20-36
Now paragraph 130, the invitations by the King. It’s still Monday, I’ve subdivided this into two main divisions. First of all, you have the invitation in verses 20-36. It begins when, in John 12:20, “There were certain Greeks among those that went up to worship at the feast.” Now by Greeks coming to worship at the feast meant these were Gentile converts to Judaism. And these Gentile converts to Judaism first go to Philip and say, “Sir, we would see Jesus,” he doesn’t quite know how to handle this. He goes to Andrew; he doesn’t know what to do either, so they both go to Jesus and it would appear that Jesus did not respond to their question, but yes He does.
Once again He spells out the program of death and resurrection. He makes four points here. First of all, by His death He will provide life, John 12:23-24. Secondly, by His death He will judge the world, in John 12:31. Thirdly, by His death he will defeat Satan. And fourthly, only after His death can Gentiles freely come to Him. The defeat of Satan is also in verse 31. In verse 32 He says, “And I, If I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Myself.”
So only after He’s lifted up, which He points out, this is signifying by what kind of death He will die, only after all the events of His death can Gentiles freely to Him. So there’s the answer for now, is they cannot come to Jesus at this point of time. And He gives an invitation to salvation but the focus now on the individual. And the people are still questioning saying how could He be the Messiah, (?) of Messiah, Messiah is eternal and cannot die or be born.
Now in John 12:28 for the third time you have about call. For the third time God the Father speaks audibly from heaven. First was at the baptism; second at the Transfiguration; and now at this juncture, simply making a simple statement. That’s typical of about call, promising He has glorified the name of Jesus; He’ll glorify it yet again. And in John 12:35-36 you have another example of John’s sub theme of the conflict of light and darkness.
2. John’s Summary of Messiah’s Ministry – John 12:37-50
a. Summary of Israel – John 12:37-43
The second part of the paragraph is John’s summary of the Messiah’s ministry, from John 12:37-50. And there’s two subdivisions; first of all, a summary of Israel in verses 37-43. As far as Israel is concerned He says they can be characterized by willful disobedience. They have been struck by blindness but this blindness was also predicted according to Isaiah 53:1. And John 12:37, “But though He had done so many signs before them, yet they believed not on Him.” Notice that this contradicts the common things you see on things like TBN, what we need to convince people is miracles, signs and wonders. That didn’t work in biblical history, it didn’t work in the Gospels; for people who are believers these are beneficial but those who don’t believe, even in the midst of many signs and wonders being performed, which were never done before or since, they still find reasons not to believe.
Once Israel rejected the Messiahship of Jesus in Matthew 12, paragraph 61, this blindness was then imposed upon the people by God, and so as Paul writes in Romans 11:25-26, a hard thing in part happened before in Israel till the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” But it’s a partial hardening, a partial blindness, (?) Jewish people coming to faith.
He also points out in John 12:42-43, even among the Pharisees there were people that came to faith. They did believe, but they would not openly confess Him because of fear, and they preferred in verse 43 “the glory of men more than the glory of God.” So on one hand you have those that simply chose not to believe; the others that did believe, were convinced He was the Messiah, but chose not to make it public or do much about it because of fear or pride.
b. Summary of Jesus – John 12:44-50
And then small b is a summary of Yeshua Himself, in verses 44-50. He was characterized by willful obedience. In these verses He makes five points. First of all, He came to testify of the Father. Secondly, He was sent by the Father. Thirdly, He is the light. Fourthly, acceptance will result in salvation; acceptance results in salvation. And fifthly, rejection will result in judgment by the Father; rejection results in rejection by the Father. And in John 12:46 another example of John’s sub theme of the conflict of light and darkness.
E. The Proof of Authority
Paragraph 131 – Mark 11:19-25; Matthew 21:19-21; Luke 21:37, 38
Now paragraph 131, the proof of authority, we’re now on the twelfth of Nisan, Tuesday, April 4, AD 30. But we have a technicality; Luke’s verses here in verses 37-38 in paragraph 131 actually belong at the end of paragraph 139 or the beginning of 140. They belong at the end of paragraph 139 or the beginning of paragraph 140. Here again he simply once again violates Luke’s order; he doesn’t do it very often; when he does we go back to what Luke tells us the order was.
And the Gospel writers point out, especially in Mark 11:19, Luke 21:37, that on a daily basis they went out teaching regularly. And the next day as they go by the fig tree, they notice the fig tree has all withered, all in one day. And Jesus tells them this was an act of faith. And He points out God will answer prayers on two conditions: the first condition for answered prayer is faith in God; faith that the God we pray to can do what we are asking Him to do. But secondly He points out that even with all the faith in God for what things He can do, a second prerequisite is willingness to forgive the brother. Forgiveness of the brethren is also a prerequisite to receive answered prayer.
Now Mark says in Mark 11:23, “I say unto you, Whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be ye cast up into the cast of the sea, and shall not doubt,” etc. I might that point out that in rabbinic writings this was a phrase that is used for being able to explain the most difficult aspects of Jewish logic and Jewish law. It was used of a rabbinic interpretation that could solve the problems of the law.
F. The Authority of the King Challenged:
The Testing of the Lamb - Paragraphs 132-135
Now paragraphs 132 to 135 we have the authority of the King challenged, it’s now the period of the testing of the Lamb. What we now have is different categories of Jewish leaders trying to trap Him in some way. They want to do two things: first of all, they want to find a way to discredit Him before the people; but secondly, to find a specific charge that He could be punished, either by Jewish or Roman law, or both.
a. The Attack – Mark 11:28; Matthew 12:23; Luke 20:1-2
And the first attack in paragraph 132, is by the priests and elders; the priests were Sadducees and the elders were Pharisees, a combined Sadducee-Pharisaic attack, and the question is a question of authority. It’s a question of authority. And the attack itself is found in Mark 11:28, “By what authority do You these things?” Who gave you this authority to do these things? And the question now is by what authority are You doing these things because rabbinic views authoritative teaching requires previous rabbinic authorization. As we already noted, the elders kept quoting this rabbi or that rabbi; you can see that in Jewish writings to this day. Jesus quotes no rabbi, no Scribe, no Pharisee when he interprets the text of Scripture in general, the Law in particular, He’s the One who gave those Scriptures and He therefore has the right to interpret it.
b. The answer – Mark 11:27-33; Matthew 21:23-27; Luke 20:1-8
So in the typical Jewish manner He responds to their question with a question. The question he raises in Luke 20:4, “The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or from men?” Now if John received his ministry from heaven then Jesus can say well, I got my authority from John because John is the one who called me “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” If they say He’s from men and therefore did not have any divine calling they will be the ones discredited by the people because the people saw John as a prophet and a saint. And therefore they’re now in the very trap they want to put Jesus in. They simply refuse to answer the question. So His response is if you won’t answer my question, I won’t answer yours.
(1) The Parable of the Two Sons – Matthew 21:28-32
He then proceeds to give them three parables and the first parable is the parable of the two sons and the point is that sonship is proven by obedience. Sonship is proven by obedience. And the father asked the first son to go out and work in the field and the first son said no, I’m not going to do that but he goes ahead and did it anyway. The second son said he will do it but ends up not doing it. So which son proved to be more obedient? The one that said no but did it, or the one that said yes and didn’t do it. And the answer is obvious.
And the application He makes in Matthew 21:31-32 is that these leaders of the Jewish people who saw themselves as being the righteous ones, who felt they would have easy entry and have authority in the Kingdom are the ones that will fail to get in. They are the ones who said yes but didn’t do what the Lord said. But those who said no but did do, like the publicans and harlots and so on, they’ll be in the Kingdom and these leaders would be excluded.
(2) The Parable of the Householder
Mark 12:1-12; Matthew 21:33-46; Luke 20:9-19
The second parable is the parable of the householder. It’s based upon Isaiah 5:1-7. The point of the parable is the Jewish leaders once killed the prophets now they will kill the Son. Now the householder in the parable is God the Father; the Son is the Messiah; the vineyard is Israel, and the husbandmen are the Jewish leaders that were to work the land and produce the fruit, and then keep a portion for themselves but a portion was to go back to the householder.
And Matthew 21:34-36 points out he sends out three sets of servants; some were simply rejected, some were beaten, some were killed. But three categories which would be the pre-exilic prophets, before the Babylonian exile, then came the post-exilic prophets and then came John and his disciples. The householder then assumes they will certainly respect my son, he sends the son, and they end up killing the son; they assumed that by killing him they will finally become not just the husbandmen but the actual owners of the property. So what will the husbandman now do to those who worked the land but killed his son? Luke 20:16, “He will come and destroy these husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.”
He then brings down the Scripture from the Messianic psalm, Psalm 118, this time verse 22, “The stone which the builders rejected, The same that becomes the head of the corner.” The point being they’ve rejected the Messianic stone but the same Messianic stone will someday become the head of the corner.
And Matthew, who’s the one that traces the consequences of the unpardonable sin adds some extra wording which is relevant to them that was not relevant for the audience of Mark and Luke. Matthew 21:43, “Therefore, I say unto you, the Kingdom of God shall be taken away from you and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” Now some interpret this to be the Church, and so the Kingdom of God was taken away from Israel and given to the Church. That’s unanimous among replacement theologians and it’s a view among some dispensationalists.
The second option is the one I prefer, is that the Kingdom of God is being taken away from the Pharisees and that generation of Israel to be reoffered to a future Jewish generation that will accept it. Again, the Kingdom of God is being taken away from the Jewish leaders of that day and that generation to be reoffered to a future Jewish generation that will accept it.
Now the national application is that the Kingdom will not be set up with this generation. The individual application is that He’ll become a stone of stumbling, a rock of offense to them. Luke 20:18, “Every one that falls on that stone shall be broken to pieces; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will scatter him as dust.” On the one hand because they had trouble accepting Him as the Messiah they stumbled over the stone. And because of continuous unbelief the stone will arise and eventually fall upon them. So on the one hand they stumble over it and only cut themselves, but secondly, the stone picks itself up and crushes them, which is decisive and mortal.
Now what He’s speaking to Israel as a nation, it’s a specific group and Matthew 21:45, notice who understood the parable was for: “And when the chief priests and the Pharisees,” both Sadducees and Pharisees heard this parable, “they perceived that He spoke of them.” End of Luke 20:19, “for they perceived that He spoke this parable against them.” So the address is not so much the nation as a whole, the Kingdom was not taken away from Israel; it was taken away from the Jewish leaders of that day, to be destined to be reoffered to a future Jewish generation which He will deal with in paragraph 139 which we’ll get to later this evening.
The Parable of the Wedding – Matthew 22:1-14
Then comes the third parable, the parable of the wedding and those who are bidden will not partake of the marriage feast but others will. The way the wedding feast worked in those days, you had the wedding ceremony followed by a seven day wedding feast; an invitation would be sent out to those that would be part of the wedding feast, so once the wedding feast was ready servants would go out to let the people invited know that they could now come.
But when this king does his wedding feast and sends out his servants, Matthew 22:3 notice, “to call them that were bidden,” they were bidden to come, they simply made excuses. As a result those who were invited but chose not to attend in Matthew 22:7, armies will destroy them. But now you have two other invitees; you have first of all them going around the streets of the city and these are the Jewish people of (?) leadership that came to repentance and came to faith. But secondly, they also went out to the byways and highways and these would be the Gentiles that also participate in the wedding feast. But in Matthew 22:8, those “that were bidden were not worthy,” that was this generation.
Now one question came up in Matthew 22:11-12, they saw a man without the wedding garment, and he threw him out, and the question is, why would he throw him out? Suppose he couldn’t afford a wedding garment. But in the context of that day the whole provided the wedding garment; the host provided the clothes you would wear for the wedding feast so this was a case that chose not to accept clothes offered to him. And he goes out to a place of outer darkness; I’ll say more about outer darkness when we get to the Olivet discourse later on tonight.
2. By Pharisees and Herodians
Paragraph 133 – Mark 12:13-17; Matthew 22:15-22; Luke 10:10-16
Now paragraph 133 we have by the Pharisees and the Herodians. The question here is not that of authority but that of politics. Now Pharisees and Herodians were on the opposite end of the political spectrum because the Pharisees were opposed to Roman rule of any form, not through any means. But the Herodians were willing to accept Roman rule if it came through the house of Herod and so the Herodians supported the Roman rule through the house of Herod; the Pharisees were opposed to it. And again, these two are on the opposite ends of the political spectrum, therefore whichever way Jesus answers He could be accused either by one or the other.
a. The Attack – Mark 12:13-14; Matthew 22:15-17; Luke 20:20-22
And the question they raise is whether it is lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not. And if He says yes, that would anger the people because the common Pharisaic teaching was that those who pay tribute to Caesar own Caesar as king and to accept Caesar as king is to reject Jehovah’s King. Now obviously they have to pay tribute, they have no choice, but they will pay it indirectly, rather than simply directly, but indirectly to recognize that what they’re forced to do is not considered as being legal. So if He says it’s lawful to pay taxes then He could get the anger of the people, but more significantly at this point of time in Jewish history, the anger of the Zealots who would kill people that would support Rome in any form. If He said no then they can accuse Him before the Roman government since telling people not to pay tribute happens to be an act of rebellion.
b. The Answer – Mark 12:15-17; Matthew 22:18-22; Luke 20:23-26
Now Jesus knows they’re trying to entrap Him so what He does is in Matthew 22:19, He says “Show me the tribute money.” Not just any kind of coin but the tribute money. They didn’t have… nobody would carry that kind of coins because it would have the image of Caesar on it and therefore they have to go find and fetch it and “brought unto Him a penny,” in verse 19. They had to go find someone that had it and would bring it to Him.
And in Mark 12:16 He asked the question, “Whose is this image and the superscription? And they said unto Him it was Caesars.” Then He lays down the principle at the end of Matthew 22:21, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” And the principle is there is a delegated authority as well as absolute authority. If the authority lies with God then He renders, He determines who rules over whom, when and where. As Daniel says, He raises up kings and puts down kings; He even has the basest of men to sit upon thrones. And all human governments, including that of Caesar, only have delegated authority.
Furthermore, the tribute coin had the image of Caesar; they could not put that kind of coinage into the temple treasury because you could not have the images of peoples or animals on coins for the temple treasury. And that’s why they would have the moneychangers to exchange Roman coinage for temple currency that could be used to pay the half shekel tax and make the offerings. So because there is delegated authority by God, paying taxes, even to Caesar, does not mean rejection of God’s authority. And eventually, of course, Messiah will replace Caesar anyway.
And the way He presented the case they could not entrap Him, as Luke points out in Luke 20:26, “they were not able to take hold of the saying before the people.”
3. By Sadducees
Paragraph 134 – Mark 12:18-27; Matthew 22:23-33; Luke 20:27-40
Then came the third test in paragraph 134 by the Sadducees. Here the issue is the question of theology; the theological issue is the issue of the resurrection. As many of you already know there are many key differences between Pharisees and Sadducees; one of these differences had to do with the resurrection. The Pharisees did believe in a future resurrection when the Messiah came. The Sadducees did not believe any resurrection, and that’s why they were sad-u-see. And the Sadducees always liked to ask the Pharisees trick questions to make them look stupid, and often succeeded. And they try one of these trick questions on Jesus.
a. The Attack – Mark 12:18-24; Matthew 22:23-28; Luke 20:27-33
They come to Him and say we have a theological question, maybe you can answer it for us, it’s a real problem for us. There was a couple that had seven sons. And the oldest son married this one woman, but he did not produce any children and he dies. So in keeping with the Mosaic Law the next son marries her; he also dies with no children. So again keeping the Mosaic Law, the third brother marries her; he too dies with no kids. Eventually all seven brothers marry this same woman; one by one they all died. And after a while she also passed away. Now in the resurrection, (which they did not believe in any way, but never mind), whose wife is she going to be; all seven were married to her.
Now just between you and me, if they came to me with that question my answer would have been quite different than the one Jesus chose to give. In my case I would call for a grand jury investigation to find out why are these guys dying off so soon if they’re married this one woman. Who cares who she’s been married to; I wonder why they’re dead to begin with. But Jesus chose to ignore that facet of the problem.
b. The Answer – Mark 18:25-27; Matthew 22:29-33; Luke 20:34-40
Notice what He does not do; He does not call three classic passages from the Old Testament that clearly teaches resurrection. He does not call Daniel 12:2; He does not call Isaiah 26:19; and He does not call Job 19:25-26. And for good reason; another differential between Pharisee and Sadducees was this. The Pharisees believed you can derive doctrine from any part of Scripture, be it the Law, the Prophets, or the Writings. The Sadducees said no, you cannot do that; every doctrine must have its origin in the five books of Moses. You can use the Prophets and the Writings to illustrate doctrine but the origin of every doctrine must come from the five books of Moses. They saw no indication of anything being taught by way of resurrection in the five books and chose not to believe in it. So to quote from Isaiah or Job or Daniel, while that was authoritative for the Pharisees, it simply would not be authoritative for the Sadducees. So He’ll have to find a way to prove it some other way.
And He points out three things. First of all, the resurrection is not merely a reawakening. The final resurrection is a transformation where the body changes from one type to another, as Paul will later tell us, from mortality to immortality, from corruption to incorruption. The new body does not reproduce itself and the answer is she won’t be married to anybody; there will be no marriage relationships in heaven with the glorified state. He says they’ll be like the angels in heaven, in Matthew 22:30. This says nothing about angels on earth who are fallen, but angels in heaven don’t marry and give in marriage, and humans in heaven won’t be married and given in marriage but here on earth we obviously do.
Secondly, He quotes in Matthew 22:32, He quotes Exodus 3:6, the second book of Moses. Exodus 3:6 where God says: “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?” And this was the Old Testament formula for the Abrahamic Covenant. We’ve simplified our terminology today, we simply say the Abrahamic Covenant but in the Bible it’s a sentence, like here, “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”
But where in the Abrahamic Covenant is there a promise of resurrection? And the promise is found in a very simple principle: if God makes a promise to an individual and that individual dies before the promise is fulfilled, God is obligated to raise that person back to life because every promise of God must be fulfilled. And furthermore, they must be fulfilled to whom the promise was made. That’s the point that (?) misses so much, because if you have two sons, you promise your first son a bicycle and you go by the bicycle and give it to your second son, you haven’t fulfilled your promise, because you made the promise to your first son. Whatever else you want to do for your second son, the promise to your first son must still be fulfilled. And whatever extra blessings He may have for the Church, and there’s quite a few, it cannot nullify the promises He made to Israel.
And that was in the mind of Abraham, according to Hebrews 11, why he was so willing to plunge the knife into Isaac’s throat, because by the time he was asked to offer up Isaac he learned the God he worshipped was a God who was a promise keeping God; a covenant keeping God. And Abraham knew that if he killed Isaac that God would raise him back to life. But how did Abraham know that? God didn’t say anything about a resurrection. Because Abraham knew Him to be a promise keeping God and by that point of time certain promises were made about Isaac were not yet fulfilled, like having a seed. So Abraham knew that He’d raise him back to life. So what God promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and one in particular; that’s not the only promise He made, but to all three men He said the same thing: to you and to your seed I will give this land; not only to your descendants will I give this land, but to all three men He said to you and to your seed I will give this land. When those three men died how much land did they own? One burial cave they had to pay good money for; one part of land in Shechem they had to pay good money for and several wells; that was the extent of their real estate holdings.
And so how would God ever keep His promises to the patriarchs, because they died without having much of anything? He must raise them back to life. That’s what we saw where Jesus said earlier in the Gospels that people would come in the Kingdom from all directions to the land, and they’ll sup, or fellowship, with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They will be in the land, finally enjoying it. So contained in the unfulfilled promises God made to the patriarchs is the promise of resurrection because every promise of God must be fulfilled when the promise was made and these promises were made to the patriarchs and that’s where the resurrection can be seen.
And his third point is that God has a living relationship with the patriarchs; He cannot leave them dead. He has a living relationship with the patriarchs, and therefore cannot leave them dead. The relationship is with the souls and spirits of these men; their body is still disposed; it’s necessary for the body to be brought back to life.
The results of this encounter are three things. First of all, the people are astonished at what He was saying. It’s a new interpretation of Exodus 3:6, they had not understood before. Secondly, even the Pharisees were a bit impressed because it gave them new ammunition against the Sadducees. And thirdly, the Sadducees were now silenced; there will be no more questions coming from them.
4. By Pharisees
Paragraph 135 – Mark 12:28-34; Matthew 22:34-40
a. The Attack – Mark 12:28; Matthew 22:34-36
Now paragraph 135, by the Pharisees. Again the question of theology, what is the greatest commandment. Mark 12:28 specifies there was a scribe, a scribe also had all these laws memorized and Matthew 8:35 specifies a lawyer who is an expert in these laws. And the question that is raised is what is the most important commandment?
b. The Answer – Mark 12:29-34; Matthew 22:37-40
And He answers the question beyond what was asked. He gives them the first, most important commandment in Deuteronomy 6:4-5, you must love God with your whole being. And the second most important commandment, Leviticus 19:18, to love your neighbor as yourself. And these were, of the 613 commandments of the Mosaic Law, these were the two most important ones. And notice these two are not among the Ten Commandments, two of the most important commandments are not found among the Ten. That’s why we shouldn’t distinguish the Ten from the others being still part of the Mosaic Law.
Now if we love God wholly… I’ll back up a moment, all commandments deal with either with human relationships to God, human relationships among humanity. If we love God with our whole being we’ll naturally keep the commandments relating to our relationship to Him. If we love our neighbor as our self we’ll naturally keep the commandments applicable to human relationships, and therefore on these two commandments hang the Law and the prophets in Matthew 33:40. And on this issue the Pharisaic lawyer did agree. And in Mark 12:34 Jesus points to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom,” and now the Pharisees have also been silenced.
G. The Challenge by the King
Paragraph 136 – Mark 12:35-37; Matthew 33:41-46; Luke 20:41-44
We’ll take one more paragraph before we break; paragraph 136, the challenge by the king. They’ve attacked Him four times; He answered all four times one way or another. But they didn’t provide any evidence to discredit Him before the people or take Him before the Romans. And Matthew 33:41 specifies He addressed this question to the Pharisees who would be more in keeping with the content of Scripture. And the first question He asked them in Matthew 33:42, who is the Messiah, whose son is He supposed to be, and they answered correctly, “the son of David.”
Now comes the trick part of the question. If the Messiah is the son of David, how come David calls Him Lord in Psalm 110:1? That’s Matthew 22:45, “If David then called Him Lord, how is He his son.” The father does not call his son lord. And the answer lies in the one thing about the Messiah the Pharisees had no clarity on, that Messiah would be the God-man. As to His humanity He is the son of David; as to His deity He is the Lord of David. But that was foreign to their thinking. And now the Pharisees are further silenced.
So this period of the Passover lamb now showed Him to be a lamb without spot and without blemish; their attempts to find a basis for execution so far has failed.