Sunday, October 22, 2017

Piling on

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TODAY’S SPECIAL: Matthew 22:15-33

“Then the pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, ‘Teacher…’
“That same day the Sadducees came to Him and ask Him saying, “Teacher…’  Matthew 22:15,16,23.

Jesus was a huge challenge to the Jewish religious leaders. In our reading we see two groups of them trying to trap Him into saying something they could use against Him. Farther along in the same chapter, a lawyer posed another question - Matthew 22:35-36. Their persistence reminds me of “piling on” the quarterback in football (not that Jesus was ever down, though).

In fact, Jesus seemed to relish these interchanges. In an earlier one, He provoked the back-and-forth by the way He answered a lawyer. That man, after he interpreted Jesus’ words as condemning of him and his buddies said, in effect, ‘Surely you’re not speaking of us lawyers here’ (Luke 11:45). Jesus answered with an inflammatory speech of woes (Luke 11:46-52) that stirred up the scribes and Pharisees to fever pitch (Luke 11:53,54).

Our incident in Matthew 22 came near the end of Jesus’ life. And though He consistently bested His questioners in argument, so they were eventually silenced (Matthew 22:46), we know that He was still arrested, tried, convicted (on false testimony) and put to death.

Some observations we can make about Jesus’ handling of verbal testing:
  • He didn’t avoid it even though it got Him into trouble - Luke 11:37-54.
  • He was nimble in His responses. He seemed to have no formula.
- Sometimes He answered with Scripture - Mark 10:2-9.
- Sometimes He told stories - Luke 10:25-37.
- Sometimes He used objects - Mark 12:15-17.
  • He knew when to speak and when to be silent. Several times He simply kept His mouth shut - Luke 20:1-8; John 8:6.

Jesus’ wisdom in dealing with His questioners, no matter how they piled on, never ceases to amaze me. The beautiful thing is, we can have it too, through the Holy Spirit. Jesus has promised it:
'Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say’” - Luke 12:11,12 (emphasis added).

May we have the faith to hear and speak!

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, help me to live so in tune with and empowered by Your Spirit that Your wisdom of words and deeds will be evident in my life. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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