Summary: Pentecost 23(A) - Jesus reveals how God’s enemies oppose his authority. It is man’s unbelief that sets traps. It is God’s truth that is our escape.


November 4, 2007 -


Matthew 22:15-22

INTRO: Our nation is still a melting pot of all kinds of people. Even in the center of America one notices the many different nationalities that are present. There are people of all types of races, ages, and even religious views. It is the Lord who sees only two (2) types of people. All of humanity is narrowed down into one of these two different categories. The Lord sees in our sea of humanity either believer or unbeliever – those with him or those against him. After driving out demons the enemies of God charged that Jesus was working by Satan’s power. This was simply unbelief rearing its ugly head once again. Jesus replied to these absurd, false charges. "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters"(LUKE 11:23). Chapter 22 of Matthew continues with God’s enemies still challenging Jesus’ authority. This is a carry over charge from chapter 21. We pray God to guide us as we consider the theme:


I. Man’s unbelief sets traps.

II. God’s truth is our escape.


A. The Pharisees are beginning to feel a bit challenged by Jesus’ growing popularity among the people.

1. No longer are they going to sit back and be the point of Jesus’ parables. Verse 15.

2. The Pharisees actively plan to trap Jesus in his words. They enlist the help of their enemies.

3. Verse 16a. The Herodians are followers of Herod. They care little about the church.

B. Here are the church leaders (Pharisees’ disciples) and government leaders (Herodians) joining forces.

1. Both groups come before Jesus with words of false praise and flattery verse 16b.

2. Even in unbelief these enemies of God still speak the truth about Jesus’ integrity.

C. They did not fool Jesus verse 18. Jesus knew their thoughts, their evil intent, and their hypocrisy.

1. These enemies of God came with outward intentions that were not really their heart’s desire.

2. On the outside they praised Jesus, inwardly were setting a trap for him. Unbelief trapped them.

D. Unbelief is very dangerous. Unbelief sets traps for mankind. Often it begins innocently but very often quickly flourishes into that which consumes a person’s very soul. Our sins that separate us from God can easily begin with hypocrisy. Outward we say and do all the right things but our hearts are not close to God at all. It happens when we do not prepare ourselves for worship. Hypocrisy happens when we let the cares of this world filter into our thoughts during worship. Worship is our blessed sanctuary away from the cares of this world and life. But often Satan will sneak in thoughts of worldly things while we are in the divine presence of God. "He replied, ‘Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me’"(MARK 7:6). This seed of unbelief sets the trap to try and rob one of eternal life.

E. During Jesus’ time the leaders of the church did one thing but believed another. It was the same during the time of Martin Luther. The church taught the way to eternal was through works. The motto of the church, during Jesus and Luther’s time, really was: pay, pray and obey. The gospel had almost disappeared. The simple saving message of the gospel reveals that Christ has paid the price, which we could not and cannot ever repay. Christ has obeyed because of our disobedience. Still today some churches compromise God’s gospel. Some like to emphasize what man has to do to be saved. BUT Christ has done it all. Pay, pray, and obey is still alive and well today. Such a teaching robs turns God’s saving Gospel into poison. "Among my people are wicked men who lie in wait like men who snare birds and like those who set traps to catch men. Like cages full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; they have become rich and powerful"(JEREMIAH 5:26,27). We are saved by grace through faith, not works.

F. Man’s unbelief sets traps. False shepherds proclaim their message and do not point to Christ. Some teach and promote a prosperity religion. “God wants you to have success!” is the false message. This sounds good and very appealing to itching ears. This is man’s unbelief that tries to trap men’s souls. Prosperity religion appeals to the very basest of our desires – greed. "People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction"(1 TIMOTHY 6:9). Who doesn’t want to be rich? Earthly wealth can become a trap…that plunge…into ruin and destruction. Being rich toward God is our greatest blessings.

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