Support us on Paypal

Skip Heitzig - Luke 20

Skip Heitzig - Luke 20
Skip Heitzig - Luke 20
TOPICS: The Bible from 30.000 Feet, Gospel of Luke, Bible Study, Confrontation

The story that we find ourselves in tonight in Luke, chapter 20, has many similarities, just like we're meeting in a courtyard of a building that has been devoted to the worship of God, so the setting in the gospel of Luke, chapter 20, is in the temple courts. The other similarity is they had a colonnaded area known as Solomon's porch. And over to my right, to your left, is a coffee shop we've named after, we didn't come up with that name, after that little portion of the temple known as Solomon's porch.

Something else, tonight is a Wednesday, and I believe in studying the chronology that the events we are reading about in this chapter happened on a Wednesday. It was two days before Jesus would be crucified. For us it's two days before Good Friday, and so we can almost hear and we can almost taste and we can almost feel the events of this chapter. So turn in your Bibles to Luke, chapter 20, or your iPad or your phone. Or if you prefer to just listen, that's fine too.

But, Father, we want to commit ourselves to you in this place, in this setting, with this temperature, with these elements. Thank you, Lord, for a beautiful place and a beautiful time that we have gathered together out of doors to worship you. More than committing the night to you, Father, we commit our souls to you. We pray, Father, that we would listen as your Spirit speaks to us individually. No doubt there are various listeners here tonight, as there were various types of listeners when Jesus was teaching and working in the temple area in Jerusalem. But, Father, I pray you would give us ears to hear and hearts to obey, in Jesus' name, amen.

Back in the seventeen hundreds a man by the name of Charles Wesley wrote a poem that became a song. "Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, look upon this little child," he wrote. Well, as we left off last week, if we were to write a song based on where we left off, it wouldn't be "Gentle Jesus, meek and mild," it would be "Lethal Jesus, mad and riled." Because we saw him in the temple courts overturning tables of buyers and sellers, of those who were selling animals and exchanging money for the temple shekel for the public worship. And he drove them out. And it's not the first time he did it. He did it at the beginning of his ministry three and a half years prior to this. And he now does it at the end of his ministry. We read about it in this chapter, or last chapter.

So, twice in his ministry, bookends to his public ministry, Jesus drove out from the temple of God in a public setting, in the formal worship setting, those who are buying and selling in the temple. And here's why: many of the people who came to the temple had traveled a long distance. And because they traveled long distances, they didn't bring an animal with them to worship. And so those business people in the temple thought, "We have an app for that. Since you didn't bring an animal, we have animals we will sell to you." Of course, it was at an exorbitant rate. Other people, though they traveled long distances, did bring their own animals. The problem is there were inspectors in the temple who looked over the animals and said, "I'm sorry, there's a blemish. It's not suitable for worship. But we have an app for that.

"We'll sell you one of these animals at an exorbitant rate and we'll take your animal." What you didn't know, however, is suddenly in inspecting the animal they rejected, later on they would find that it was suitable to turn it around and sell it to somebody else. The other problem is that if you traveled from another place, you wouldn't have the right currency, because you had foreign currency. And that wasn't accepted in the temple, so you'd have to exchange it for the proper kind of temple shekel. And they had an app for that. The problem is they had an exchange rate. The exchange rate to change your money into the acceptable money for the temple was the equivalent of two hours' wage for a normal working person and the same amount for every half shekel after that.

So they had turned people's desire to love and to worship God into a business, a sham, a way to line their own pockets. They took advantage of it. Their hearts weren't in at all to the meaning of what was going on in that temple. So Jesus comes in. And he has the authority to do that. He is the Son of God. He is Israel's Messiah. And he drives them out of the temple. Now, being priests, scribes, and scholars, Jesus doing this at the beginning and at the end of his ministry should've tipped them off, because there is a prophecy in the Old Testament book of Malachi, chapter 3. It says, "And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to his temple, even the Messenger of the covenant... and he will sit as a refiner and a purifier." So Jesus drives them out and everybody is up in an uproar at this point.

Now, verse 1, "It happened on one of those days, as he taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, confronted him and spoke to him, saying, 'Tell us, by what authority do you do these things? Or who is he who gave you this authority?'" Now what "things" are they speaking of? All of the things Jesus has been doing: his teaching, his preaching, his cleansing of the temple, his triumphal entry into Jerusalem a couple days before this. All of those things that brought attention to him and adulation from the crowd has unnerved the political and religious elite, and now they confront him: "'What authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority?'

"But he answered and said to them, 'I will ask, also ask you one thing, answer me: The baptism of John, was it from heaven or from men?' And they reasoned among themselves, saying, 'Well, if we say, "From heaven," then he's going to say, "Why then did you not believe him?" But if we say, "From men," all the people will stone us, for they are persuaded that John was a prophet.'" Now that's the answer they wanted to give to Jesus. That's what they really believed. That was, to them, the right answer: "The baptism of John, that was from men; it wasn't from God." They denounced John as being a true prophet. But all the people that were in the temple that day and that followed Jesus believed John was a true prophet. So notice, "And so they answered that they did not know where it was from.

"Jesus said to them, 'Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.'" Now Jesus was not being funny. He was not being evasive. He was being very, very wise and he was being very, very rabbinic. Often rabbis would answer a question with a question to get his students to probe deeper, to be confronted with an obvious truth. And then they would draw a conclusion as they would reason it out. So they ask him a question: "Tell us about the authority that you have to do this." Now they knew exactly what Jesus had always said was his authority. He had claimed before that God the Father was his authority. But they wanted to hear him say that again in this setting, as if to say, "I don't need to go through you. I don't need to ask your permission to do this. This is my Father's temple. He is to be worshiped here."

That's why he drove them out, the buyers and the sellers. "I don't need your authority. I have my authority and I have my Father's authority." They wanted to arrest him. And so instead of answering it obviously and forthrightly, Jesus asked them a question, as if to say, "Tell you what, if you answer my question, I'll answer yours. Deal? The baptism of John, from men or from God?" And they answered by saying, "We can't tell you." "Neither then," Jesus said, "will I tell you by what authority I do these things." Jesus Christ raises the issue and the question of the authority and the validity of the ministry of John the Baptist. You remember John. John the Baptizer was down at the Jordan River and he was performing a baptism that was very, very different from Jewish baptism. It was similar, but it was different.

The Jews taught that there is a ritual of baptism that you must undergo before you go into the temple to worship, and so they had pools dug out of the rock. One of the pools was called a mikveh/mikvah. Several of them, and they had hundreds of them, were called mikvaot. So if you wanted to come, let's say you wanted to come to church. If this were the temple in Jerusalem, and you want to come to worship, you gotta go into that pond, and you gotta immerse yourself in that pond, then dry off, then put on your clothes, and then go into the church service. But what John was doing was called proselyte baptism. He was demanding repentance, change. What they were practicing was ritual baptism. John was practicing repentance baptism. He is demanded a change of life.

And, in effect, he was making those Jews who believed they were under the covenant of the God because they were Jews, Israelites, they basically were treated like Gentiles, like Gentiles proselytes who would before you enter Judaism one of the things you would have to do, there were several, but one of the things is to go into a mikveh and be immersed and make a confession that you believe in God. You are changing your lifestyle. You're changing your background. You're changing your worship to the one true God. John was doing that, but he was doing it to Jewish people who were already under the covenant, demanding repentance. So, here's the setting: they put Jesus in a little dilemma. "Who gave you this authority? By what authority do you do these things?"

Jesus turns it right back on them and puts the dilemma on them. They're now on the horns of the dilemma. In chess we would call this "checkmate." The scribes and Pharisees come to Jesus, "By what authority do you do these things?" In other words, "Check." And then Jesus said, "Well, let me ask you a question . . ." "Checkmate." They can't answer him, and so Jesus doesn't answer them, but at this point he tells a story. And in telling the story, the parable, he exposes their sin and predicts their future. Now, we have covered many parables already. Luke doesn't have as many as Matthew has. Matthew in this section has three parables. Luke covers one of them, a story. "Then he began is to tell the people this parable: 'A certain man planted a vineyard, leased it to vinedressers, and went into a far country for a long time.

"'Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that they might give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the vinedressers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent another servant; they beat him also, treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent a third; and they wounded him and they cast him out. And then the owner of the vineyard said, "What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. Probably they will respect him when they see him." But when the vinedressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves saying, "This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours." And so they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them?'"

Jesus, like a good rabbi, asked the question, probing for an answer. "'He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others.' And when they heard it they said, 'Certainly not!'" It's a very common story and it was a story that they were very familiar with. Vineyards were everywhere in Israel. If you ever do come with us to Judea, Jerusalem, you find it's very hilly. And in the ancient world there were basically in Israel two types of land: flatland and hilly land. The flatland is where you grow the grain; the hilly land is where you terrace the hillside and you plant vineyards. And they were everywhere and to this day they are everywhere. And so typically somebody would come in and first put a wall around their land.

Then you would take the rocks and get rid of them, and make the soil ready for planting the vine. And then he would put a watchtower in it. And then he would dig a winepress for the harvest later on. And then he would employ people. And that would be the business. This is a little bit different. We have here a story of an absent landowner. And the people that are working the land, they don't own the land. They're like tenant farmers. They're like contract labor. The one who owns the land doesn't live there. He goes away on business. He conducts business elsewhere. He's absent from the land he owns. But as was common and is still common, people came in and rented that land and they paid the owner what was in the contract. And then whatever profit they could make in the business on that land, they would keep it.

Now it's not difficult to interpret the meaning of this parable. And they understood exactly what Jesus was getting at. In fact, we'll read on, "they perceived," it says. It will tell us, "they perceived that Jesus spoke this parable against them." They understood that a vineyard is often used in the Old Testament as a symbol of the nation of Israel: Isaiah, chapter 5; Jeremiah, chapter 2. In those passages Israel is the vineyard of God, and a story, a similar story is told. The landowner is God. The vinedressers are the tenants, they're the rulers of Israel at that time in whose hands the nation is entrusted. There's a passage in Isaiah, chapter 5, and this would have rung a bell in their minds. As Jesus told the story, they would have thought of this.

Every scribe in that crowd, every Pharisee among that group would have known Isaiah, chapter 5. It goes something like this: "Now let me sing to my Well-beloved a song of my Beloved concerning [or regarding] his vineyard: For my Well-beloved had a vineyard on a very fruitful hill. He dug it, he cast out its stones, he built a wall and a hedge about it. He put a watchtower in it, and he dug a winepress." That's all Isaiah, chapter 5. And it says he expected that that vineyard would bring forth good grapes, but instead it brought forth wild grapes, bad fruit. And then the Lord says, "Hear, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, what shall I do with my vineyard?" And he says, "I'll tell you what I'll do: I'll tear down its wall. I'll burn it with fire. I will lay it waste."

And then also in Isaiah, chapter 5, it says, "For the vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel." So Jesus picks up on this analogy, this motif, this metaphor, and he teaches from it, but then he adds this: "What will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others." That happened in 70 AD. The Romans who occupied the land burned the temple, occupied the city. Judaism wasn't practiced like it has been practiced. Many were killed; others were taken captive. But it's an interesting story. And one of the elements you find in the parables of Jesus is a shock element. So that the crowd when they heard it, went, "Ooh, that's wrong. That's not right. That's weird."

And the shock element here is that the one who owned the vineyard sent servants from the owner to the tenants to check up on it, to collect fruit from it, to just see how they were doing. They saw the servant and they stoned him or drove him away or killed him. Until finally the owner goes, "What should I do?" And everybody in the crowd is thinking, "What should you do? I'll tell you what you should do: You should call the authorities. You should take this thing back. You should show no mercy. You own that land." But it's showing the mercy of the landowner in sending servant after servant after servant, till finally he goes, "I know what, they will respect my son if I send my son to them." When the son was there, he was killed. Now it is a story that looks to the future. It's a story that looks through the past.

It's all done in a very short story. In a very short period of literary ground, Jesus covers a lot of ground. It's the history of the nation of Israel. Can you think of any prophets, were there very many of them that the people of Israel said, "Hip-hip, hooray! We have another prophet of God. Let's treat him with respect. Let's show him love." They didn't do it with Isaiah the prophet, the one who gave the original prophecy. According to tradition he was sawn in two. Can you imagine how horrible that would be? They sawed him in two. That's even mentioned, we believe, and alluded to in Hebrews, chapter 11, with Jeremiah the prophet who spoke in the name of the Lord. They put him in a mud pit, the miry clay, and later on they stoned him to death.

The prophet Elijah had to run for his life because of death threats, also the prophet Amos. The prophet Zechariah was murdered in the very temple courts themselves, according to Second Chronicles, chapter 24. And our Lord Jesus in Matthew 23 alludes to it as well. Prophet after prophet after prophet was not accepted, but was rejected by that nation. Then God sent his Son, and they said, "Let's kill him." And Jesus, in looking through the annuls of the past, now looks to the future. And he said, "'He's going to come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard [the nation, the land] to others.' And when they heard it," their gut reaction was, "No way! No way, José!" Or, "No way, Shlomo!" Or whatever it might be.

"'Certainly not!' Then he looked at them and he said, 'what then is this that is written: "The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone"? Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.'" Now did you notice the change in that sentence, the change of metaphor from a vineyard to a building? Now, not vines and wine and fruit and farmers, but now a building made out of stones. What is he doing? Well, he's quoting a psalm that they, the people, the religious leaders believe to be a messianic Psalm; and that was Psalm 18, and he quotes from it. The quote is this: "The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone." Now the reason Jesus quotes the psalm they knew to be messianic is he is equating something that is rejected.

The rejected stone in Psalm 18 and the rejected son in the parable Jesus just gave are exactly the same. They're one in the same. It's one in the same story. Now the cornerstone is the most important part of a building. Every other stone is laid on top of the cornerstone. It's the alignment stone. It's the mass of stone that has to be cut so precisely and laid so perfectly, because if not, every other stone that takes it is cue and its lines off of that stone is going to make for a very, very unreliable and crooked building. By the way, Peter himself will quote that psalm and make reference to this when he preaches in several more weeks after this event in this same temple courts. Let me refresh your memory with that story. Peter and John are in the temple, and they go up to the temple at the time of prayer.

And they see a man who is paralyzed. He's lame and he's begging for money. And Peter says, remember the famous words? "Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have I give to thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." And the man was healed right there in the temple courts, Solomon's porch in the distance looking on. And so the leaders, like here with Jesus, react to Peter. And they say, you know, "What authority do you have to do this? What name do you come to us with? What is the name you are using?" It's a question of authority. And Peter says this: "If we are being judged this day for a good deed done to a helpless man, then be it known unto you, and to all of the house of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ, whom you crucified, but whom God raised from the dead, does this man stand before you whole.

"He was the 'stone rejected by you builders, and has become the chief cornerstone.' For there is salvation in no other name than the name of Jesus." A very bold proclamation, and it is similar in nature to what we are reading here. Look at verse 19, or I know its dark, listen to it, if you don't have a screen like I am cheating with. "And the chief priests and the scribes that very hour sought to lay hands on him." That doesn't mean like, "Let's pray for Jesus. We're going to lay hands on him." This wasn't the good kind of laying on of hands, it was the bad kind. They want to arrest him. "[They] sought to lay hands on him, but they feared the people, for they knew he had spoken this parable against them." I'm glad they have a keen eye for the obvious.

"And so they watched him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, that they might seize on his words, in order to deliver him to the power and the authority of the governor. And then they asked him, saying, 'Teacher, we know that you say and teach rightly, and you do not show favoritism, but you teach the way of God in truth.'" Doesn't that sound so sweet. This is what I call a "liar's sandwich", they butter both sides of the bread, both sides, but in between it's filled with venom. It's a trap. It's a trick. And they come off at the beginning saying nice words, and they're going to say some nice words at the very end, but they're trying to trap him. These are those pretending to be righteous. And they come up with a question that sounds pretty good. Here it is: "Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"

Now this is a question we ask, all of us, around this time of the year, right? "Do we really need to be doing this? Do we really need to be paying this much? They want more taxes for what?!" We always struggle with it, but there's something fundamental we know about society, and we've known about all societies since the beginning; and that is, taxation is important for societies to run. Without taxes governments can function. However, having said that, the people of Israel felt absolutely crushed by the Roman form of taxation. And we've gone into depth. We don't need to do that again. I think I even did it last week. So talking about taxes was a volatile subject, a hot-button topic. So they just simply ask a simple question: "Is it lawful, is it right, is it righteous, is it good, you, a man of God, to pay taxes to Caesar or to, or not?"

Now, the reason that we pay taxes, the same reason they paid taxes, was for the services given to them. The Roman government required lots of money, because the Roman government provided something no other government had provided for the world up until that time. And number one, it was a road system. It's amazing to me really. I mean, these are the things that just, I look at and go, wow! It's been two millennia, 2,000 years since the Romans built roads. They still exist today. I know streets in Albuquerque after a couple years that are just so beat up they're unrecognizable. It's been 2,000 years and many of those roads, 55,000 miles of roads in 700 years of building to connect different parts of the world to each other out of solid stone. Well, that cost money to do that. It provides a lot.

It provides goods and services, and lots of imports and exports. A lot of money to be made, but it costs a lot of money, and that's where taxes come in. Bridges, aqueducts, many of which are still in existence to this day, public buildings. And there was something called the Pax Romana. You know, the Middle East has always been in an uproar, but ancient Israel and that part of the world never had sustained peace until Rome came in with its vast Roman armies and brought in an enforced peace. It's the only way peace could ever happen over there. It has to be by force. So wherever you would look, not far away were Roman soldiers. And what were they doing? They were peacekeepers.

They would make sure that decorum was kept and that nobody went over the law and it was that Roman force that kept the peace. Well, all of that cost taxes. Why did they ask this question? Because they want to divide the crowd. They want to get Jesus in trouble either with the crowd or with the government. If Jesus were to say, "Yes, it's perfectly good and it's right to pay taxes to Caesar," immediately the people are going to turn against him, they think. And the Pharisees certainly are going to turn against him. They hate Rome. If Jesus were to say, "Nope, you don't have to pay taxes to Caesar. Forget about it. Don't even go there," then the Herodians and the Roman government, Pontius Pilate and the others, they're going to be breathing down his throat. So they feel they have a catch-22.

They've asked the perfect question: "Is it lawful to pay taxes or not?" Verse 23, "But He perceived their craftiness, and said to them, 'Why do you test me? Show me a denarius.'" Now a denarius was a single silver coin and it was minted under the authority of the emperor of Rome. Did you know that the emperor was the only one who could allow the minting of gold or silver coins? And it was a single silver coin. On one side of the denarius, a denarius, by the way, was equivalent of a day's wage for a laborer or a soldier. On one side of a denarius was an image of Caesar; on the other side of the coin was a picture of him reclining on sort of a lounge chair with the robes of a priest. And so he said, "'Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?' And they answered and they said, 'Caesar's.'"

Now I don't know if you caught this or not, but he says, "Whose image is on this?" You know the second commandment, right? "You shall have no images..." And you know to a Jewish person, an Orthodox Jewish person, all imagery, all images, not just of God, but even of people, are prohibited. So to have an image of Caesar that they have carrying around with them and they have to pay taxes for is doubly insulting, because it means they have to always be breaking the second commandment and pay taxes to Caesar. Listen, they so abhorred images that Pontius Pilate on two different occasions got into trouble because he brought in images into Jerusalem. Once he brought in ensigns with an image of Caesar on it, and all of the Jews protested, went to visit him in Caesarea, and demanded that he take those ensigns down, those banners down.

He said, "I'm not going to do it. We're Rome. You can't boss us around." And so he herded all of those protesting Jews into the theater in Caesarea and said, "If you don't shut up, we're going to kill you right now. We're going to slice your throats open." He was not expecting what happened next. When he threatened to kill them and cut their throats, they all laid down on the ground, pulled their shirt, their toga down, and said, "Go ahead." They bared their necks to the sword. And now Pilate realized these fanatical Jews are willing to die over this whole image thing: "I don't want to get in trouble with Caesar, so I'll just remove the images." A few years later, to honor Tiberias Caesar, he had gold shields put into the Antonia Fortress in Jerusalem, his own palace. The Jews protested.

He refused to take them down. They sent a letter directly to Caesar. And Caesar wrote him a letter and said, "Get rid of those shields." So Pilate is on thin ice with them and even with Rome. But here's Jesus, he holds up this coin with an image on it. The Jews hated images. He said, "Whose image is on this? Whose inscription?" They said, "Caesar's." "He said to them," here's his answer, "'Then [give or] render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.'" There's two parts to that answer: part number one, we have an earthly obligation; part number two, we have a heavenly obligation. We have an earthly obligation to give taxes to Caesar, to give taxes to the government, because taxes belong to the domain of Caesar. His face is on it. His mug shot is on it. Give it to him.

It's his. He minted it; give it back to him. He wants it; give it to him. Now, if you've read your Bible, you know that there's two places in the New Testament that are very, very overt and distinct about this: one is Romans, chapter 13; and the other is First Peter chapter 2, that says, "Be submissive to governmental authorities." Goes as far as to say kings and governors, and we would put presidents and prime ministers and mayors and the police force, all stand in the place of God. But it gets worse. He says if you defy them, and you don't show honor and respect to them, and you don't pay them whatever they say their due is, you are dishonoring God. That's what Paul said and that's what Peter said. So Jesus says two things: Caesar has a right to collect your tax, but God has a right to collect your worship.

Caesar has the right to your revenue; God has the right to your reverence. You have to give a portion of your money to Caesar; you have to give all of yourself to God. "'Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, give to God what belongs to him.' But they could not catch him in his words in the presence of the people. And they marveled at his answer and they kept silent." Good move. "And then some of the Sadducees, who deny that there is a resurrection, came and asked him", so he's being peppered with questions. This is the Bible Answer Man on steroids. They're asking him all sorts of hard questions to figure out. And if it wasn't enough to have scribes and Pharisees and hypocrites coming in pretending to be righteous that were plants by all of them, now we have another group called the Sadducees.

The Sadducees were different than the Pharisees. They were the rationalist, whereas the Pharisees were the legalists. The Sadducees did not believe in all of the Bible, the Old Testament. They only believed in the first five books of Moses. They didn't believe in miracles. They didn't believe in angels. They didn't believe in spirits. They didn't believe in a resurrection. Anything supernatural, they didn't believe in. They were the theological liberals of their day. Didn't believe. Didn't hold to it. They were the opposite of the Pharisees. "So they ask him this, saying, 'Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man's brother dies, having a wife, and he dies without children, that his brother should take his wife and raise up offspring for his brother.'" Some of you are familiar with what you just heard; others of you are not.

If you've read the book of Deuteronomy, which we haven't read yet, that'll be our next book. But in Deuteronomy, chapter 25, there's this bazaar but very necessary law for offspring and for land regulations in ancient Israel. And it's called the "law of levirate marriage." Have you ever heard of that term, the law of levirate marriage? "Levirate" is a Latin term that speaks of a husband's brother. That's what it means, "husband's brother." And it basically say this: if a guy is married to a wife, and he dies, and he hasn't provided a child, so there's no heir, that the brother, and it implies the single brother who's not married, has no commitments, needs to raise up an heir for his dead brother through his original wife. So he would then marry that wife and have the land and produce offspring in his brother's name.

Now, here's, they refer to that law. Here's the, here's the problem, here's the story: "'Now, there were seven brothers. And the first took a wife, and died without children. And the second took her as a wife, and he died childless. And the third took her, and in like manner the seven also; and they left no children, and they died.'" Now at this point you're going, "Something's up." The first husband died, the second husband died, the third husband died, the fourth husband died, the fifth husband, the sixth, and the seventh, all of them died from the same woman. She'd be in court today, right? She would be high on the suspect list. And they'd be asking her in court, "So tell us how you cooked your eggs. What ingredients specifically did you use?"

"'Last of all the woman died also. Therefore'", here's the question. "'Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife does she become? For all seven had her as a wife.'" You see, the question is designed to prove how ridiculous the idea of a physical, real resurrection is. If there's really a resurrection, if you have this happening, then in the resurrection who belongs to who? By the way, there's a very famous example of the law of levirate marriage in the Bible that has directly to do with Jesus Christ. It's a story of Ruth and Boaz. Ruth's husband Mahlon (who was married to Elimelech from Bethlehem), dies. And the nearest next of kin refuses to marry her. And so Boaz, also a kinsman, a relative, decides, "I will marry Ruth. I will take the land, buy the land back, redeem the land, and have children."

And the offspring is a direct relationship to Jesus Christ in that genealogy. It's a great, great story. That's the book of Ruth. It's based upon this. So now they pose this weird little scenario and they ask the question: "'In the resurrection whose wife does she become? All seven had her as a wife.' And Jesus answered and said to them, 'The sons of this age,'" this world, this time, "'The sons of this age,'" in time and space, "'marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given many marriage.'" I just gotta tell you, years ago I knew a gal named Barb, Barbara. And Barb dated a roommate that I had at the time, David. And they were thinking about getting married. David was a little reserved about it and standoffish.

Barb, on the other hand, was very, very pushy and she wanted to get married quickly. And she hated this verse of Scripture, absolutely hated it, because she thought the Lord was coming any moment. She wanted to enjoy a life of marriage with her husband. And then what happens if the rapture comes before the wedding, or they just get married then the Lord comes back? And she was just mad at this idea that in heaven they weren't going to be married. Now, I have met, since then, many other people who in reading this passage are very comforted by this idea. I'm not going to say which you are. You can see which one you relate with. So, "'[They] neither marry nor are they given marriage; nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.

"'But even Moses showed in the burning bush passage,'" that's Exodus 3, "'that the dead are raised, when he called the Lord "the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to him.'" Now, when Jesus said the resurrected people are like the angels, please listen to me carefully, he didn't say they become angels. I don't know how many funerals I've been at and said, "Well, she's got her wings. She's free from this earth and she's now an angel." I'm going, "Where on earth did they come up with that? " Jesus is not saying they become angels, he's saying they share the same characteristic as an angel; that is, they're immortal. They don't die. And in heaven there's no need to propagate the human race.

There's no need for procreation, so the marriage relationship is unnecessary. The second, and more important thing, is that Jesus is proving to them there is a resurrection. And please notice how: he quotes Exodus, chapter 3, and Jesus' argument is based upon verb tense. This is why when I teach the Bible, I'm all about what the verb tense is, what the noun is, what the relationship and syntax of one word to another, because it's all important. Jesus points back to Exodus 3 when Moses wrote the account of God coming to him and saying, remember the burning bush? "Moses!" he said, "Here I am." And the Lord introduced himself. He said, "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." Not, "I was," "I am," present tense.

So God speaks of a relationship with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who have been dead for many, many, many years, as active and in the present tense. "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." And Jesus' conclusion is, "He's not the God of the dead but he's the God of the living, for all live to him." If God can still claim a relationship with him, Jesus says, there must be life after death and there must be a future resurrection. "Then some of the scribes answered and said, 'Teacher, you have spoken well.'" That's the only compliment he's gotten so far."Good sermon, Jesus. We like that." Of course, it's all fake. It's all feigned. "But after that they dared not question him anymore." Again, good thinking. "And he said to them", now he has some questions for them. He wants to wrap them in a dilemma.

He says this: "'How can they say that the Christ [the Messiah] is the Son of David?'" If you're not familiar, the term "Son of David" was the most common term for the Messiah of all of the terms in Judaism. Because God made a promise to David years before in the book of Second Samuel, chapter 7, that the offspring of David, that his throne would be established forever and ever. That couldn't refer to Solomon because Solomon died. Solomon's kingdom split into two. It was divided and it was never restored ever again. So, "How can they say," Jesus asked, "that the Messiah is the Son of David?" Now listen to this: "David himself said in the Book of Psalms", he's quoting now Psalm 110 verse 1, "'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool. "'"

That's the quote out of Psalm 10. Literally it's "Yahweh said to Adonai." "The Lord said to my Lord, 'Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool.'" And here's a question: "Therefore David calls him 'Lord'; how is he then his Son?" Do you get the question? He's asking this: "You say that the Messiah is the Son of David. You believe the Messiah will only be a human person, only of human origin. He won't be divine at all." Now, Jesus had claimed to be God time and time again. "But you leaders say that the Messiah is just the Son of David, a human son of David. And if that's the case, then explain to me Psalm 110 where 'The Lord said to my Lord,' [David writes] "Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool. "'" Both Old Testament titles Yahweh and Adonai, "the Lord" and "my Lord," are used to speak of God.

In that text one of them speaks of God's Son, God's Christ, God's Messiah. So he asks them a question: "How is he David's Lord if he's David's son?" Now, there's only one reasonable answer to that logical questioning. And if you were there, you'd have the answer, wouldn't you? You'd say, "I know the answer to that. It's because the Son of God is God the Son." He has a human nature and a divine nature; that's what Jesus was getting at. "Then in the hearing of all the people, he said to his disciples", now they get, all the leaders are next to him. So picture, let's say, Fred the photographer up here and Moses the videographer; right here are the scribes and the Pharisees. Do you mind being them just for a moment. Okay, so you're the guys that have just attacked me. You've asked me this question. You're trying to get at me.

And now I'm talking to you; you're the disciples. You're the crowds in the temple. And I say this: "Beware of the scribes who desire to go around in long robes, they love greetings in the marketplaces, and the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at the feasts, who devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation." I don't know, but if I'm you guys, I'm starting to move to the edge of the crowd at this point. It's like, "Uh, I'm out at a here, lunch is calling." "They shall receive a greater condemnation." So this chapter has been all about the confronting. On a Wednesday before the Friday that Jesus was crucified on the Passover, in the temple courts with people teeming around. And being out of doors on this glorious night, we get a little bit of taste of what it was like.

Father, we are amazed that our Lord Jesus was always filled with the right answer, always had such perfect truth that fell off of his lips. He was the Master of every situation. Things were never out of his control even when they pushed the authority issue on him, asking him, "What authority do you have to do these things?" It's apparent that Jesus never asked any of their authority. He never petitioned the temple priests or the chief priest or the Pharisees or the scribes for permission to teach in the temple or do anything. That was his Father's house. He had all authority. And what they had been doing in the name of God was a sham. It's obvious that Jesus didn't care about their religious sham.

He didn't care about all of the practices that had nothing to do with true worship. He cared for those sheep that could be hurt or could be blessed. And so he dared to expose the leaders publicly, because he wanted to see the sheep, the hungry, those thirsty for some reality with God. He wanted to see them protected and nourished. Lord Jesus was bold and he told us, "You will know the truth, the truth will make you free." Thank you for the freedom every time we go through a text of the Bible, every chapter of the Bible, and we uncover or are reminded of some great principle of truth. It has an impact on us, Lord. It aligns our thinking. It makes us better equipped to be representatives, children of God in the world in which we live.

Lord, nothing in this world in terms of its values, its politics, its structure, even slightly resembles the values of the kingdom of God. As Jesus himself said, "That which is esteemed highly among men is an abomination to God." So, Lord, help us, as we live in the midst of a society that is against you, to be respectful of it, and to pay our taxes, and to give honor where honor is due, but to render unto God everything, all that we are. Our government has the right to collect taxes, but you have ultimate authority to collect worship, all of us, all of our substance, all of our energy, in Jesus' name, amen.

Are you Human?:*