Summary: Jesus points out some of the ways that the Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees are not interpreting the Word right.
Three Common Misuses Of The Bible:
1. The highest use of your Bible knowledge is winning a theological argument.
- For many people, the ultimate use of their Bible knowledge is the ability to show others (both Christians and non-Christians) that “I’m right and you’re wrong.”
- We use the Bible as a weapon – not to win spiritual warfare, but to beat down others.
- Here in this story in Matthew 22 the Pharisees and Herodians lay a trap for Jesus to make sure that someone defeats Him in public theological arguing. Both groups have tried separately to beat Jesus in theological jousting, only to walk away defeated. So, they combine their efforts to ensure (they think) that they can win.
- The reason they think they’ll win is that the presence of both groups presents Jesus with a difficult situation.
- If Jesus says, “Don’t pay your taxes to Caesar,” then the Herodians will pounce. They believe that the Jewish people should be loyal to the Roman government. (They were considered compromisers by many other Jews.) Their name reflects the fact that they were in league with Herod. If Jesus says that Jews shouldn’t pay taxes to Caesar, the Herodians will take that statement to the ruling authorities and paint Jesus as a dangerous man bent on insurrection. This would likely lead to His arrest.
- On the other hand, if Jesus says, “Pay your taxes to Caesar,” then the Pharisees will pounce. They believe that the Roman government is illegitimate and that the Jewish people are meant by God to rule themselves. If Jesus says that Jews should pay taxes to Caesar, the Pharisees will shout that knowledge to the people who are sympathetic to their view and paint Jesus as a compromiser and stooge of the Roman government.
- As they planned this ahead of time, I’m sure they thought their plan presented Jesus with a “no-win” situation.
- The interesting thing to me here as far as what we’re talking about this morning is how these two groups who normally despised the other came together specifically to win this theological argument.
- They weren’t interested in learning or revealing the truth of God – they just wanted to figure out a way to win this theological argument.
- Today, an all-too-common pastime among Christians is to spend their time together fighting with each other over who is right.
- I remember talking to a man who worked at the plants in South Charleston who said every day at lunch the Christians from various denominations would inevitably stumble into some theological debate and spend the remainder of the hour explaining why the other person was wrong.
- While those believers seem to think that was an entertaining and productive use of their time, for the non-Christians there in that lunchroom, it makes Christianity into something they want no part of. It wasn’t a life-changing source of hope – it was a cumbersome series of propositions to be argued and defended.
- The Baptists explain why the Methodists are wrong to deny eternal security.
- The Pentecostals explain why the mainline is wrong to deny supernatural spiritual gifts.
- The Church of Christ explains why everyone else is wrong on everything.
- We rarely convince other Christians to change their minds, but in the process we convince non-Christians to change their minds about salvation.
- And we act like we’re doing God’s will in the process.
2. If you can’t win your argument, at least you can live smugly in knowing your airtight theological arguments are right.
- Later that day, the Sadducees came to Jesus and presented one of their “proofs.” It was an argument showing that their belief that there is no resurrection was undeniably true. This was obviously an airtight case that they often repeated. To believe other than they did would turn heaven into a polygamous mess.
- Jesus, of course, had something else to say (and we’ll get into that in a while).
- What strikes me here is that this way of speaking is the way we often talk amongst ourselves (people within our theological tradition). We lay out our wonderfully constructed proofs of our theological take on certain issues and our fellow church members praise our undeniable explanations.
- It’s not genuine debate we’re after or an honest exchange of ideas that we want – we’re just looking for better arguments to prove what we already think. It allows us to rest smugly in our rightness.
3. You can maintain your smugness by never leaving the comfort of your favorite parts of the Bible.
- Jesus here takes the initiative to lay out a question to the Pharisees.
- What’s going on here? Jesus gets them to acknowledge that the Messiah is the Son of David, yet David himself refers to the Messiah as Lord. They have no answer to explain this.