NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY
by Dr. Robert R. Seyda
GOSPEL OF MATTHEW
To all my devoted students and lovers of God’s Word. We just finished the continuation of the contentious challenge between Jesus and the various religious and legal groups that dominated the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem.
It all started back in Chapter 21 after Jesus came riding toward Jerusalem on the back of the young donkey. The chief priests and teachers of the law were already upset and aggravated that this prophet from Galilee had gone into the Temple and overturned the tables of the merchants selling various sacrificial materials and religious trinkets. And now even the children were shouting Hosanna and calling Him the Son of David, which was a clear reference to the expected Messiah.
Jesus’ disciples may have been wavering in their faith and trust in His ability to get the job done, so our Lord shows them clearly that by having faith they can even cause a fig tree to wither. They did not know what Jesus knew as they returned to the city from Bethany the next day to minister in the Temple courts, the chief priests and elders were waiting for them. They immediately confronted Him and wanted to know by what authority He was teaching religious subjects performing miracles.
When they were stumped by His question concerning their lack of support for John the Baptizer, Jesus then attempted to help them see the light by telling several parables. The first was the story of a king who invited special guests to the wedding of his son. When they refused his invitation, then he told his servants to go out and invite those standing on the street corners looking for work to come. Our Lord was no doubt hoping that they would see this as an illustration of their being the educated and affluent ones in Israel invited to be part of the Messiah’s mission, but since they rejected Him, now the Samaritans and Gentiles would take their place.
They apparently got the point, because they immediately changed the subject to whether or not it was right for Jews to pay taxes to the Romans. It was not very effective because Jesus merely pointed to the image on the coin and said: If that’s Caesar’s face, then give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. But since you were created in the image of God, then give to God what belongs to God.
After this defeat, they then approached Him with a question about the resurrection. But again, Jesus was aware of their trickery and pointed to their own teachings as saying that after the resurrection marriage would no longer be a question since those raised from death would be of neutral gender like the angels where procreation is not needed.
With this stinging rebuke, they tried again with a question about the commandments, and which one was the greatest. Jesus knew that along with the Ten Commandments and the various Levitical laws given to Moses, Jewish teachers of the law had added even more until they had a list of 613. Some things that should not be done and some that should be done. So they were curious which one of those 613 He would choose. In His brilliance, he told them that every requirement contained in this long list of laws could be fully met by successfully completing just two: Love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind, and abilities, coupled with loving their neighbor as themselves.
But before they could come back with another pointless question, Jesus asked them one: “Whose son will the Messiah be?” They were quick to responded: “The son of king David.” Then Jesus countered: Then why did the Holy Spirit inspire David to say: “Adonai says to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool‘,”1 if the Messiah was David’s son? This time, they not only had no answer, but they had no more questions.
And with that, the door opened and the time came for Jesus to now concentrate on explaining to His disciples and those who were following Him what was about to happen. With that, He started on the final part of the path that led to His death on the cross at Calvary. From here on out it would all be all about the conclusion of His mission here on earth and the end times before His return. That will be the subject starting in Chapter 23.
SPECIAL NOTICE: At this point, we will be taking a short break while my wife and I attend a family wedding in California. When we come back, we will start our journey with the Lamb of God as He readies Himself for sacrifice on the cross, all for our sake. It will be heartbreaking at times, but it was worth all the pain and suffering to redeem God’s creation from certain annihilation in a fiery pit so they could receive the gift of everlasting life in the presence of God Almighty.
May God richly bless you for your unwavering dedication in studying His Word so that by knowing more about Him, you can get closer to Him.
1 Psalm 110:1