Jesus and the Pharisees: from Matthew 22:15-22

A Roman Coin

This is our thirteenth study. Please click HERE for an intro to this study. Today we will focus on how Jesus responded to the Pharisees when they tried to trap Him.

Matthew 22:15-22

Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

Observations

Both the Pharisees and the Herodians (mainly Sadducees) wanted to trap Jesus in His words as to paying taxes. If he said no to their question of paying taxes, the Herodians would charge Him with treason against Rome. And if He said yes, the Pharisees would accuse Him of disloyalty to the Jewish nation. His answer amazed them both. He said to pay the tax to Caesar because it was his anyway (according to the stamp on the coin), but all the things that are God’s should go to God, which would include the hearts and souls of people. Caesar cannot touch people’s souls. They have the mark of His image on them.

Application

No one can touch a person’s soul. All are created in His image and belong to Him. We all have His mark on us and so all should give themselves to Him.

Jesus and the Pharisees: from Matthew 21:33-46

Our purpose as the church is to bear fruit.

This is our twelfth study. Please click HERE for an intro to this study. Today we will focus on the meaning of the parable of the landowner.

Matthew 21:33-46

33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.

35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.

38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”

41 “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

“‘The stone the builders rejected

has become the capstone;

the Lord has done this,

and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.

Observations

This parable speaks to the Jews as nation and particularity to the Jewish leaders, the Pharisees who killed the prophets (the servants) and would kill Jesus (the Son). The verdict given by the Pharisees upon the vine-growers (vs. 41) was a verdict made upon themselves. Yes, they who were the vine-growers in the parable convicted themselves. The other tenants who would be given the vineyard (or the kingdom) would be the church (v. 41, 43). So, this parable speaks prophetically about the end of the Jewish program and the beginning of the church (Rom. 11). The stone whom the builders rejected would be Christ (v. 42). The Pharisees were not stupid. They understood that Jesus was speaking about them and they wanted to kill Him.

Applications

The obvious application for me that I see is in verse 43. I am part of the church and my purpose is to produce fruit.

Jesus and the Pharisees on Divorce: from Matthew 19:3-9

This is our eleventh study. Please click HERE for an intro to this study. Today we will focus on the Biblical teaching of divorce.

Matthew 19:3-9

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’  5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?  6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

Observations

The Pharisees asked Jesus about divorce, as always, to test Him—to see how much He knew. And they may also have been looking for more information for their own debates. The Rabbis Shammai interpreted the law as permitting a man to divorce his wife only for sexual immorality. But the Hillelites permitted divorce for any reason.

Jesus appears to side with the Shammai, but He also gave them more informaation than they asked for. He instructed them on what the original intent of marriage was—to be of one flesh. He also corrected them on what was said about a command of divorce. He said that Moses didn’t command divorce, he permitted it, and only for one reason, adultery.

Applications

I think these verses should definitely be studied by any couple who is thinking about marriage. And it is my opinion that if they can’t be serious about staying together for life, they should not be married. It is better to remain single.

Jesus and the Pharisees: from Matthew 16:5-12

This is our tenth study on this topic. Please click HERE for an intro to this study. Today we will focus on the false teaching of the Pharisees.

Matthew 16:5-12

When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

7 They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”

8 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? 9 Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”  12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Observations

First of all, we have to understand what Jesus meant by the term yeast (or leaven). In the material sense it is a substance added to dough to cause it to rise. If leaven bread dough is left too long before baking, it will ferment or sour. In Hebrew culture (in Mosaic Law) it was strictly forbade to use leaven in baking because it signified impurity, corruption or evil.

In this text when Jesus said, “Be on your guard against the yeast (or leaven) of the Pharisees, He was saying, be on your guard against corrupt and false teaching  (which mainly was that they were too concerned with the external and not enough with matters of the heart). However, Jesus’ disciples completely misunderstood Him. They thought He was talking about bread—not having enough bread.

Applications

The clear application here is that we ought to be on our guard against any false teachers; they are everywhere. And there are many who are just like the Pharisees, who appear to be so righteous and knowledgeable, but they leave out the deep spiritual matters of the heart—things that are vital to our relationship with God.

Jesus and the Pharisees: from Matthew 15:10-20

This is our eighth study on this topic. Please click HERE for an intro to this study.

Matthew 15:10-20

10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.'”

12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”

13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”

15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”

16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.'”

Observations

In this text Jesus goes back to the Pharisees complaint that the disciples didn’t wash their hands before eating (vv. 1-2). He explains why He was unconcerned about it, or why He was more concerned about the inside of a person—the heart. He said that what comes out of a man, or what a man speaks will defile him. It is exactly what James tells us (in James 3:6), that when we speak something sinful, our sinful words will defile the entire man and will cause us to do evil things (v. 19).

Also, when the disciples came and told Jesus that the Pharisees were offended by what he was saying, His reply seemed very callous; however, Jesus knew their evil heart and was more concerned that His disciples not be influenced by them. John MacArthur said that Jesus here (in vv. 13-14) is declaring God’s wrath on the Pharisees, that God has already given them over, as in Romans 1:18-32).

Applications

We ought to be much more concerned with our moral purity than with out physical uncleanness. We also should be watchful of “blind guides,” so that we will not be led down the wrong path.

Jesus and the Pharisees: from Matthew 15:1-6

This is our seventh study on this topic. Please click HERE for an intro to this study.

Matthew 15:1-6

Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’  5 But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,’ 6 he is not to ‘honor his father’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.

Observations

The tradition of washing hands before meals is a good one, but it wasn’t commanded by God through Moses, so Jesus wasn’t that concerned about it. He was concerned more over why the Pharisees were teaching that it was okay not to honor father and mother for the sake of their tradition. The Pharisees were teaching that it was okay not to help your mother and father with a financial need, or with any other need, if you gave your time and money to God instead—because God is more important.

Applications

I see all kinds of applications here, especially if one’s parents are elderly and poor. We cannot use any excuse for not honoring parents by helping them with their needs, no matter what good thing we are doing for God. Honoring parents is always a greater priority. We should not say, I cannot help my parents with their needs because I need that money to go to Bible School. We cannot say I cannot honor my parents by supporting them because I support this missionary or this good work. Honoring one’s father and mother is the 5th commandment and a high priority—an absolute must over any other good work.