MATTHEW 22: WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT COMMAND?
READING MATTHEW 22
The religious leaders are ramping up their trick questions now. Here is trick question and response in Matthew 22.
- What authority do you have to do these things? (21:23) Jesus tells another story of sending and rejection, this time (22:2-14) it's a sad story of a king inviting the guests to a banquet and they not only reject the invitation but abuse and even kill the servants who go out and invite them. Jesus is talking about the kingdom, what it's like, and centering on two keys that we have to keep central in our minds when reading: He's talking about the rejection of the Jews of the Messiah, and he's talking about the movement of God to gather the nations as His people.
- Is it right that we should pay taxes to Caesar? Yes or no!? Jesus openly asks why they are trying to trap him. "Bring me a coin used for paying the tax." They brought a coin. Jesus asked, "Whose name and picture is on the coin?" They answered, "Caesar's." Jesus said to them, "Then give back to Caesar the things which belong to Caesar, and give to God the things which belong to God." When they heard this they were amazed and left him alone.
- Sadducees came and tried to trick Jesus with a combobulation story. Jesus taught them a lesson about the resurrection.
- Pharisees asked, "What is the most important command in the law?" Jesus answers with the two most important, the second most important command is illustrated in today's blog post photo. (Yes, it's the British spelling on his hat.) This important text is located in Matthew 22:34-40. Notice how Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. Jesus is not making up new laws but radically shifting how law is lived, putting together two things here that hadn't previously been stated so clearly together. They knew these two commands but were befuddled with 613 commands in the Torah. Don't miss what he says to end this section, because it's vital to understand this well: "These two commands support the whole law of Moses and the prophets." Another translation says all the law and prophets hangs on these two. Keep the rest with these two in mind and in practice.
- Finally, Jesus has a question for the Pharisees: "Whose son is the Messiah?" They answered, "David's." Jesus asked, "So, why did David call him Yahweh Adonay?" (Yahweh was the most common name for God but Adonay referred to the Messiah). He was saying this quoting Psalm 110:1. Jesus asked, "How could the Messiah be David's son if David called him 'Lord' (Adonay)?" They trick question chapter ends with this note:
No one was able to answer Jesus at all. From that time on, no one dared ask him any more trick questions.
Yahweh Adonay, we often ask you trick questions. What authority do you have to allow suffering? Sometimes we deflect what we know are the important commands and debate what we are to do. Help us to debate and deliberate less and do more in the name of your kingdom, loving you and neighbor.
Pay attention today to trick questions you may be asking God and others. Are you asking leading, trick questions of people, to try and trap them, or are you living in your words and actions the two greatest commands?
Greg Taylor preaches for The Journey. Greg's wife, Jill, teaches math at Broken Arrow High School and Tulsa Community College. Greg and Jill have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob. Greg is the author of many books, including his latest co-authored with Randy Harris, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.