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Matthew 22:15-33

Answers to Strengthen Faith

  • Rich Jones
  • Weekend Messages
  • July 3, 2011

In these verses of Matthew 22, the Sadducees tried to trap Jesus by asking if it was lawful to give a poll tax to Caesar. If Jesus answered in favor of the Jewish people, they would come for Him and silence Him. If, on the other hand, Jesus said something to favor of the Romans, He would lose the support of the people and they could take matters into their own hands. Jesus' answer teaches us that we need to give God what is rightfully His. It also teaches us a lot about His power.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Answers to Strengthen Faith

Matthew 22:15-33 

Matthew 22 finds Jesus in Jerusalem those last few days before He is arrested, mistreated by the Jewish and Roman authorities, crucified, but raised again on the third day.

Jesus has just finished giving three parables to be like a mirror to show the Jewish leaders their hardness of heart and lack of faith in God. In fact in Matthew 21, they so clearly understood that Jesus was talking about them that they sought to seize Him, but they feared the multitudes, because they held Him to be a prophet.

When we come to this section beginning in verse 15, we find the Pharisees counseling together how that might trap Jesus in what He said. They come up with a devious plan that they must have thought was foolproof. Their plan was to find some way to get Jesus to say something against the Romans so the Romans would come and do something to keep Jesus quiet.

But if instead Jesus said something in support of the Romans, then He would lose the support of the people and then they could take matters into their own hands.

Their trap had to do with the question of the Roman poll tax. During that time Roman citizens were exempt from paying a poll tax, so the burden of taxation predominantly fell on the provinces of the Roman Empire and Israel was included, so Jewish people were required to pay the Roman poll tax and they resented that.

Their question is simple, "Is it lawful to give a poll tax to Caesar, or not?" They ask in such a way as to suggest that the answer should be either yes or no, and either answer is a trap.

I. Give God the Things that are God's

  • They actually set the trap by trying to get Jesus to relax His defenses by giving Him compliments.
  • The problem is this; they actually know these words to be true, but they won't live according to the truth.
  • In other words, these words should have been on their hearts, so they could live according to them.

Deuteronomy 6:3-8 These words shall be on your heart…

A. Give to Caesar that which is Caesar’s

  • First, Jesus shows them their heart like a mirror, "Why are you testing me, you hypocrites!"

Psalm 139:2-4 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it all.

  • Then Jesus asked for the coin used for the poll tax, and they brought Him a denarius. "Whose inscription is this?" They answered, "Caesar's." And He said, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's…"
  • They were amazed at His answer and went away.
  • But we look at these words and there is much for us to learn and understand and apply to our lives today. 
  • First, let's all agree that no one likes paying taxes. It was true then and is still true today.

Illus - Someone once calculated that the Jews at that time would have paid about 49% of their income in taxes. Today, depending on income, a person in the US could pay 55% in total taxes. Although in Denmark, a person may pay up to 68% in taxes.

Illus - We are not surprised that no one likes to pay taxes; we just wish they would spend it more carefully. But all you have to do is travel around the world to appreciate our roads, police, and fire services.

Romans 13:1, 7, Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities… Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

B. Give back to God what is His

  • Jesus just didn't answer the question about the Roman poll tax; he also asked them to consider their relationship to God.
  • Caesar's inscription and image was on that coin and so it belonged to him and should be rendered back to him.
  • In a similar way, God's image and inscription is on our lives. God formed Adam out of the dust and then breathed His life into him.

Genesis 1:26, Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

Illus - In Russia, I was witnessing to a man and I became quite close to. I so wanted him to have the joy of the Lord and eternal life, but he resisted. One day over breakfast he said, "Why doesn't God leave me alone to mind my own business?"

"Because He made you," I answered, "you're living on the earth He created, He gave you breath, and He made you with purpose and He gave you a will so that you can freely choose Him."

  • Later in this chapter the Pharisees and Sadducees come together testing Him again, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?"
  • Verse 37; Jesus answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…"
  • When you pay a tax, you give a percentage, but with God, you surrender all.
  • We give in response to all that He's given us.

II. Know God’s Word and His Power

  • After the Pharisees went away, the Sadducees came to question Him hoping to make Him look foolish.
  • The Sadducees were Jewish leaders that only believed in the first five books of the Old Testament, they taught there is no resurrection, and they didn't believe in angels or spirits. 
  • No doubt they pulled out their standard question they used to make their opponents look foolish.
  • Even today there are favorite questions nonbelievers like to use against believers.
  • Questions like: Where did Cain get his wife? If a Christian donates his organs, what will happen at the rapture? Can God make a rock so big that even He cannot lift it?

A. Whose wife you will be in heaven

  • Their question comes out of Deuteronomy 25 which says that if a man dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a strange man. Her husband's brother shall take her to himself as wife so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel and so the land will stay in that family and tribe.
  • So the question was that if a man married and died and left his wife to his brother, so also the second, and the third, down to the seventh, whose wife would she be in the resurrection?
  • I think if I was Jesus the first question I would've asked would have been, "What's the deal with this woman?" Seven husbands all dead?
  • Their belief in the resurrection was already challenged when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Instead of changing their beliefs, they sought to kill Lazarus. Isn't that interesting?

John 12:10, The chief priests (who were Sadducees) planned to put Lazarus to death also; because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and were believing in Jesus.

  • Jesus immediately put His finger on the problem, "You are mistaken, not understanding the scriptures, or the power of God."
  • Know the scriptures and know the power of God, those are keys to keeping our lives from error.
  • I also love those words in verse 31 where Jesus said, "Have you not read that which was spoken to you by God?" Emphasis on "spoken to you."
  • Jesus then gives great insight about the resurrection, in other words, eternal life.
  • First of all, in the resurrection, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
  • Two things we notice; first, we will not become angels. Secondly, that there is no marrying in heaven. In fact, marriage on earth is a shadow, or a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church.

Ephesians 5:31-32, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I'm speaking with reference to Christ and the church.

  • In heaven, we will still be who we are now, only glorified, perfected, both in body and soul. We will have relationships and be reunited with those we love who are in Christ.
  • We will have bodies in heaven as well, but they will be glorified and different from our earthly bodies.

1 Corinthians 15:42-44 Our glorified bodies in heaven.

  • We'll have God's perspective in heaven.

1 Corinthians 13:12, For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

Illus – We see things very differently than a child and see their troubles from a better view, how much more is that true of God’s perspective?

B. He is the God of the living

  • Regarding the resurrection of the dead, Jesus challenged them, "Have you not read that which was spoken to you by God?"
  • "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and the God of Jacob," He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.
  • There are really two parts to Jesus's answer. "I am" the God of those who have died, but are now living.

John 11:25-26, Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?"

  • Actually, everyone will have eternal existence. The real question is where.

Illus – John MacArthur once said, “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away." Which started people copying him; old salesmen never die, they just go out of commission. Old shoemakers never die; they just lose their sole… but there is a truth found in the humor.

  • There are many who are dead, even though they live…

Matthew 8:21-22, Another of the disciples said to Him, "Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father." But Jesus said to him, "Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead."

  • God formed Adam out of the dust and breathed life into him. When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, He breathes new life into us.

John 20:21-22, So Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit."

  • Jesus is the life of heaven and He is offering His life to us even now. Heaven is a place prepared by Christ for us.
  • But He is even now preparing us for heaven.

John 14:1-3, "Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also."

Matthew 22:15-33    NASB

15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said. 16 And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any. 17 Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?" 18 But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, "Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites?

19 Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax." And they brought Him a denarius. 20 And He said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" 21 They said to Him, "Caesar's." Then He said to them, "Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's." 22 And hearing this, they were amazed, and leaving Him, they went away.
 
23 On that day some Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to Jesus and questioned Him, 24 asking, "Teacher, Moses said, 'If a man dies having no children, his brother as next of kin shall marry his wife, and raise up children for his brother.' 25 Now there were seven brothers with us; and the first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother; 26 so also the second, and the third, down to the seventh. 27 Last of all, the woman died. 28 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had married her."
 
29 But Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: 32 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living." 33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at His teaching.
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