Let Us Understand

Today’s study in our Looking Along the Gospel series is in Matthew 22:23-46.

Understand What?  

By the end of this post, I hope you’ll hunger and thirst to know more about the Scriptures, and the Power of God, rather then settling for the voice of the cynics and doubters and those who do not understand. In this passage, we are entering at a point in Jesus’ ministry when both the Pharisees and Sadducees are looking for ways to trip Jesus up.  Jesus is very close to celebrating His last Passover. They bring questions in the hopes of discrediting Jesus.

We learn from this chapter that not all questions deserve or receive an answer; not all questions are good; and Jesus cannot be fooled.  He knows the hearts of men, and knows how to respond.

Jesus was not Socratic

He did not use the questions He poses here to teach the Pharisees or Sadducees.  Rather, He uses the whole moment to teach His disciples that the Sadducees’ questions reveal the condition of their hearts.  The questions of Jesus’ opponents show that they do not have faith, their hearts are not in line with God’s heart.  

Read verses 23-29.  Pause a moment, and reflect on Jesus’ response.  The questions are not met with an answer, but with the statement “you are mistaken…”  

No Understanding

The Sadducees reveal by their question that they do not understand the SCRIPTURES or the POWER of God!  There is a huge focus in the Gospels on the power of God. (Luke 4 for example). All of Jesus’ words and works reveal God’s power. He healed, He raised the dead, He forgave sins, He taught with authority that amazed many.

The Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection, they think they have found a scenario that proves that eternal life is a fairy tale.  They are mistaken.  

Read on verse 30.  Here we learn that in heaven we never marry…and are like angels.  Like, but never are.  Like only in this sense–no sex or marriage.  Whose image are we created in? And we are currently being transformed more and more into His image, and will one day see Him and be like Him.  Yet in this we are similar to angels–no marriage, no sex. The marriage intimacy we enjoy here foreshadows something greater in heaven. We cannot know truly what it will be like, but the intimacy we will experience there will be far more satisfying than the greatest sexual intimacy  you’ve had here. Can we trust God to come through on that promise?

Can we trust Him with the unknown?

If you are looking for a good book–let me recommend C.S. Lewis, Miracles.  He tells a story about a boy hearing about sex for the first time.  The boy’s greatest pleasure to this point has been chocolate. So he wants to know if chocolate is involved in sex.  No? No chocolate? Then I don’t want any of that, how could it be a satisfying experience? We assume the same, in our fear of the unknown.  How could heaven be amazing if no sex, no marriage?

We don’t know all the details. But as Habakkuk once spoke by the Spirit, and Paul quotes by the Spirit, so we must also say:  the LORD is doing something, and we could not possibly, with our finite minds, fully understand it.   For a helpful meditation, slowly read through:  1 Corinthians 2:6-16; Habakkuk 1:5; Acts 13:26-41.

How do you come to Him?

Is that really the point of this teaching in Matthew 22?  Not really–the point is still, do we come to Jesus to learn, or contrarily to prove how amazing our own understanding is?

What we can know, we must cling to.  What we do not know–resist the urge to make it up, do not challenge God, and do not lose trust because He hasn’t told us all the details.  His ways are higher.

The more we are in the Scriptures, led by the Spirit who teaches us, the less of these improper questions we’ll ask; knowing we can trust Him with the details.  We will still come and pour out our hearts in faith, and sometimes in agony “How long O Lord?” as the Psalmist does (see Psalm 40 for example).

The Living One

Matthew 22:32, a reminder to us of the unshakeable foundation of our faith in the Resurrected Jesus–Revelation 1:18, 1 Cor. 15:12-20.  Our faith is in the Living One, the God of the living. The Sadducees loved the Pentateuch, and Jesus quoted Exodus 3:6 here to prove the resurrection.  God is the God of the living; therefore these forefathers are alive! (perhaps pause a moment, turn to John 11:25-26)  

Another Question

Skip forward to 41-46.  The Pharisees are back. Jesus asks a question, the Pharisees answer.  Jesus responds with another question. “No one is able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question.”

They did not ask, because their heart’s motives were exposed as the Light chases away darkness.  Yet we do not fear to bring our questions. He dwells in our hearts through faith, therefore we come in confident access (Ephesians 3:11-21) and boldness, we do not lose heart but are strengthened with power through His Spirit!  We come boldly, and humbly; we pose our questions believing He knows the answers. We know He delights in these conversations with His children.

We come, responding to His call in Matthew 11, ready to learn.  Not challenging Him, not thinking we know better, not grumbling against His Sovereignty.  We come to the gentle and humble Jesus.

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