The Great Commandment
“And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.” ’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away. The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.’ Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother. So too the second and third, down to the seventh. After them all, the woman died. In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.” But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching. 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. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, “ ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet” ’? If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.” (Matthew 22:1–46, ESV)
The Stories Continue
Jesus continues to use stories that sting the Jewish religious leaders. In this parable, a king gives a wedding feast for his son, and he sent servants to call the guests but they would not come. The king sent even more servants to implore them and to tell them what arrangements had been made for the celebration. The invited guests paid no attention and some even seized the servants treated them shamefully and killed them. In his anger, the king sent troops who destroyed the murderers and burned the city. The king tells his servants that those who were invited were not worthy, and so they should go to the roads and gather all they could find whether good or bad. The wedding hall was filled, but as the king went through the hall greeting the guests, he found someone who dod not have a wedding garment. The king had him thrown out into a place of terrible suffering. These stories continue to address the fact that the Jewish religious establishment had despised the grace of the King, and others made it in dressed in the appropriate garment.
The Pharisees scheme about how they might entangle Jesus in his words. They sent their disciples and the Herodians to Jesus, and they begin with flattery about the way Jesus teaches. They ask Jesus the question that they had contrived, "Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?" The question is meant to trap him between the Romans and the Jews. Jesus is aware of their malice and calls them out for their hypocrisy. He then asks for a coin, and when they bring it to him, he asks a simple question, "Whose likeness and inscription is on this coin?" They replied that it was the image and inscription of Caesar, and he instructed them to render to Caesar what was his. Defeated, they marveled at his answer and went away.
The Sadducees decide to try and trap Jesus. They come to him with a question about the resurrection. This is ridiculous because the Sadducees do not believe in the afterlife. It would have been apparent to the crowds that they had devious intentions. They seek to trap Jesus with an extreme case of Levirate marriage and who the woman would belong to in the afterlife. Jesus corrects them and chides them for their insolent behavior. These Sadducees do not know the scriptures or the power of God. Jesus affirms the resurrection and explains that marriage which was given for human flourishing would not be necessary because the God of the living will sustain his creation. When Jesus said this, the crowd was astonished at his teaching.
The Great And Second
The Pharisees hear that the Sadducees had failed just as they had and so they regroup to try and snare Jesus again. A lawyer stands to test Jesus. The crowds may have been excited to see Jesus confront another test. This teacher os the law wants to know what Jesus believes is the great commandment in the Law? Jesus answers him without a rebuke. The great commandment is to love God with everything. However, Jesus goes on to offer what is second after the great commandment: love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus explains that all the Law and all the prophets depend on these two commandments. Jesus flips the script on these Pharisees and asks them a question that they quickly answer about the Christ. Jesus continues and asks them to explain how the Son of David would have been called Lord by David? The Pharisees are unable to reconcile this relationship, and they stopped asking questions to avoid further embarrassment.