Summary: Idolatry is preferring something above God. God doesn’t just want to be added to your list of preferences and activities. He demands that He is your love, your greatest desire, the one who occupies your thoughts and the one you seek to please above all.
Politics is a blood sport. Some go on principle and naively believe that others will see the logic and fairness of their position while other politicians spin their opponents position and prognosticate to vilify their opponent and scare the electorate that their opponent’s position will result in catastrophe. This week’s election was a prime example of politics over principle.
This of course is an ancient art. The political masters of Jesus’ time, the Pharisees, were masters like their Herodian cousins in law and politics. Their ability to use language to either confuse, veil a threat or trap was their gambit of choice. They saw Jesus as a threat to their power and wanted to use their skill to discredit him.
Many today fall victim to confusion and manipulation over terms of law. They come to Jesus in a false understanding of God’s character and expectations in regards to the law. Their either believe that God judges on a curve, His law is outdated, or misunderstand grace.
If you were to die tonight and God said why should I let you into my heaven, what would you say?
• Would you say that you are not that bad and tried to do more good than bad? Jesus, being a good judge, would say that you are still guilty of the crimes that you have committed against His holy law, find you guilty and sentence you to eternal death. You would have seriously misjudged His character.
• Or perhaps you would claim that you lived in New Testament times not under that Old Testament law time. Jesus would reply that not one of the smallest elements of that law has been abolished. You are guilty and likewise sentenced you to eternal death. You would have seriously misunderstood God’s standard.
• Lastly you may claim that you are not under law but under grace and free to Come to God on your own terms and in your own way. I pray you may not hear the chilling words of Jesus: Depart from me, worker of iniquity, I never knew you. Sentence: Eternal Death. You would have likewise seriously misunderstood God’s standard.
Those who are truly in Christ, love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. The stakes are too high to misunderstand for ourselves and those we love.
In understanding how to Love God with all our Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength we see: 1) THE APPROACH OF THE PHARISEES Matthew 22:34-35 2) THE QUESTION BY THE LAWYER Matthew 22:36 and 3) THE RESPONSE OF THE LORD MATTHEW 22:37-38.
1) THE APPROACH OF THE PHARISEES Matthew 22:34-35
Matthew 22:34-35 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. (ESV)
The first test of Jesus by the Pharisees, made through their disciples and the Herodians, was political, dealing with the payment of the despised poll-tax (v. 17). The second test, by the Sadducees, was theological, pertaining to the reality of the resurrection, which they denied (vv. 23, 28). Now the Pharisees were about to test Him again in the area of theology.
When Jesus answered the absurd question about the seven brothers by showing that even Moses taught the resurrection, He had silenced the Sadducees. The verb phimoô (silenced) literally means to muzzle, to forcefully restrict the opening of the mouth. The Sadducees were verbally incapacitated by the Lord, rendered utterly speechless.
• God’s truth silences those who look to excuse their actions by a misguided attempt to find a technicality or loophole in the Law of God.
When the Pharisees heard about Jesus silencing the Sadducees, they decided to have another try themselves at entrapping Him, this time directly by one of their own number rather than through their less capable disciples. The Pharisees doubtlessly had mixed feelings when they heard the news. They must have been pleased that the Sadducees had been proved wrong about Moses not teaching resurrection.
• The defining characteristic of the Sadducees was their denial of the resurrection.
o Milma recently reminded us of the play on words: That’s why they were sad you see.
Please turn to Acts 4
But for the Pharisees, that feeling of smugness was far outweighed by a sense of dismay and frustration at still another failure to discredit their common enemy, Jesus.
Consequently, the Pharisees again (see v. 15) gathered (themselves) together clandestinely somewhere in the Temple to plan their next strategy. In doing so, they unintentionally and unknowingly fulfilled prophecy by plotting together as it is described in:
Acts 4:26-28 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’--for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. (ESV)