Lenten Day 37: [HOLY WEEK] QUESTIONING ULTERIOR MOTIVES
TOPIC: QUESTIONING ULTERIOR MOTIVES
TEXT: MATTHEW 22:23-45
There are multiples of lessons to be learnt from today’s teaching. A range of interesting issues that affect us as Christians will be touched. The topic was chosen to cover series of questions the Pharisees and Scribes were asking Jesus, not because they were eager to learn the scriptures from Him, nor wanted to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, nor for spiritual growth, but for ulterior motives; they wanted to put a stumbling block on His way so He would become a prey to their snares, hence, be found guilty and convicted. But Jesus Christ, who is Omniscient, knew their thoughts, and gave them answers meet for their foolish questions. He was well prepared for them at every instance; and He applied God’s wisdom in each response.
Have you ever met someone who looked like they stepped out of a glamour magazine, yet whose attitude and character were as ugly as sin? It’s amazing how a person’s outward appearance can be so different from his or her character. Today’s teaching includes strong words for such people—those who are so concerned with how they appear to others that they neglect to take care of their character. Jesus directs His words at some of the Pharisees and Sadducees, but we can tell they are for anyone who focuses on life’s minor issues instead of being concerned about what really matters to God. As you read, determine to focus on what’s on the inside, instead of merely working on your outward appearances.
AUTHORITY QUESTIONED: Having seen the miraculous works Jesus was doing- healed the sick, raised the dead, cleansed the leper, gave hope to the hopeless etc, the Bible says that the chief priest and the elders of the people asked Him by whose authority He was doing all that. Jesus, knowing where they were coming from, did not answer them directly. He responded by asking them about the baptism of John from where it came from? But because their minds were polluted, they would not want to give Him a positive answer. They declined. (Matt. 21:23-27). Hence Jesus did not give them any response to their deceitful questions about His authority, which in their hearts they knew it was from God. Think about the question the Sadducees asked Him concerning the resurrection, (Matt. 22:23-30) they were just interested about the earthly things, not knowing that in heaven it’s a different ball game. Jesus told them in clear terms “…Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” When you ponder on the questions they asked Him concerning payment of tribute, (Matt.22: 15-22) you can see that their minds were full of lewdness. They were setting traps here and there for Jesus to fall in. Matthew 22:15 says that “they took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk”.
They asked Him whether it was lawful to pay tribute to Caesar. Jesus perceived their wickedness and asked them “why tempt ye me?” Jesus, full of wisdom, immediately told them to bring the penny on whose Caesar’s image and superscription was, they brought it and foolishly provided the answer to their question, so they were defeated. As the Jews did not attempt to deny the conclusion of our Lord’s question, which was, the Messiah is not only the son of David according to the flesh, but He is the Lord of David according to His Divine nature, then it is evident they could not. Indeed, there was no other way of invalidating the argument, but by denying that the prophecy in question related to Christ: but it seems the prophecy was so fully and so generally understood to belong to the Messiah that they did not attempt to do this; for it is immediately added, No man was able to answer him a word-they were completely nonplussed and confounded.
Jesus condemned some of the Pharisees and religious leaders for hiding their corruption and greed behind a veneer of good behavior (Matthew 23:25-28). They kept a long list of rules by which they defined obedience to the Law. But they also harbored attitudes and behaviors that dishonored the God who had given them the Law. That’s the heart of hypocrisy—pretending to be what you’re not. Appearing to be a Christian isn’t the same as being one. What’s inside your heart? Are you hiding behind a mask? Are you pretending to be a Christian? Are you covering up sins? Work on your inner attitudes and motivations and not on your image. Don’t be like the Pharisees. Don’t be a hypocrite.
LET’S PONDER ON THIS
- In which way are you a stumbling block or a clog to the wheel of progress of the gospel just like the scribes and elders?
- Have you examined yourself to find out whether you are a Pharisee or a Sadducee in character and/or behavior?
- How many times have you thrown a deceiving question to your Pastor or Elder or Minister of God just to make him stumble so that he would appear to have failed in his mission of the gospel?
- Have you searched your conscience to find out whether you are confrontational in approach when dealing with issues of religion?
- How friendly and accommodating are you whenever you are dealing with unbelievers and extremists who may want to rubbish your faith due to selfish reasons?
- Do you err by claiming to know the scripture and the power of God when in actual sense of it, you are lacking in both?
Your response to these few questions should determine on whose side you are, whether on the side of the Jews who did everything to nail Christ to satisfy their foolish desire, or you are on the side of Christ who against all odds maintained His posture as the true Son of God with simplicity, caution and meekness. He refused to be provoked. He was full of wisdom.
There are some people who at every slightest provocation concerning their faith would lose their temper and would wage a war to protect their religious belief. This is not what Christ did. He did not fight the Scribes, nor the elders when they were bombarding Him with heretic questions that were so provocative, rather He took control and made them understand that He was truly sent to establish a kingdom here on earth.
So as a true Christian, let us learn to keep to the faith of Jesus Christ. Desist from tempting those in authority just to make them fail in their mission and then the name of God is profaned.