BAITING THE TRAP, 12:13-17
If you preface an accusation with a positive compliment, then afterwards when the accusation comes, it’s better tasting and they are more likely to understand their need for repentance. They believed Jesus, as a Jew, would surely side against paying the Roman taxes, afterall, he was applauded by the Jewish majority for helping them understand the Law and speaking the truth like no one had heard before, (Jn. 7:46). The hypocrites joining forces with each other, (Mk. 3:6) approached Jesus with praise, in the hope that he would give an either/or answer, but Jesus gave a both/and answer, so slipping out of the trap. An honest inquirer on the issue, would surely seek to learn “what is God’s”, in order to give him what is his. But their hypocrisy left them in astonishment. Why would his critics put the issue of paying taxes to Jesus with both Herodians and Pharisees present?
On a more personal note: Have you ever resented paying taxes, which are so expensive you are tempted to worry about how you will pay other debts? If this happens, we should question our faith in the Sovereignty of God, who tells us to pay them anyway. Even in the face of a Government that will take those expensive taxes and execute ungodly goals, we are expected to give to God what is his, and give to the Government what is theirs. This should make us feel like a trusting servant of both God and Government, so why would any Christian have a conflicted conscience?
THE ERROR OF THE SADDUCEES, 12:18-27
The levirate law is in Deuteronomy 25:5-10. The brother of a man who died without a son had an obligation to marry his brother’s widow. This served several purposes: It provided for the widow in a society where a widow with no children to care for her would be reduced to begging, and it preserved the name of the deceased, who would be regarded as the legal father of the first son produced from that marriage. All the reasons for practicing levirate marriage in a family were merely physical. The resurrection and resurrected bodies had nothing that could possibly pertain to this physical life. So the Sadducees were trying to make spiritual implications upon a totally physical scenario, which was almost ridiculous. Therefore Jesus takes the subject of the resurrection and puts it in a different context: Abraham, Isaac & Jacob. Demanding that they accept God’s promise of life-everlasting. If they don’t, their logical conclusion is that their “god” is dead.
THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT, 12:28-34
When I get to heaven, I want to learn who this “Expert in the Law” (Mk. 1:22) is. Jesus said he was close to the Kingdom of Heaven. He had the audacity while within eye-sight and ear-shot of his fellow peers to sincerely praise Jesus, as well as agree with him. What strength of courage, what depth of love for God’s cause. Do we have this? A faith that takes a public stand for the priorities of Jesus is very beneficial for everyone. Otherwise, his critics are shut down! Matthew 22:46, Mark 12:34 & Luke 20:40 all record this event. From here forward his critics have no more words to deceive, they only have actions to destroy. If we practice the greatest commandment as well as the second likened unto it, we will feel friction, God loves this and Satan hates it. Love in v30 is in the future tense, but in v31, it is in the present tense. Why is that?
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