Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Colonnade and shops in Bath, England

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Nov 3, Mt 22, Mk 12.

Today's readings are Mt 22, Mk 12. Tomorrow's are Mt 23, Lk 20, Lk 21.

The parable of the wedding feast is a blow to the Jews. The people in the town who refuse to come to the feast symbolize the Jews. They end up being destroyed for their arrogance and disrespect. The people on the roads are non-Jewish (Gentile) travelers who no-self-respecting Jew would ever invite to a wedding feast. Both bad and good people are invited solely on the invitation of the father of the king, not on their merit or worthiness. Even at that, proper clothing is required in order to attend the feast. The necessary clothing is a symbol of the righteousness of Christ that adorns all believers. Without it, one cannot come to the wedding feast of the Son of God. 

We see in Mt 22:14 the tension between human responsibility and sovereign election. "Many are called" may refer to the Jews who, as a group, were called God's people. They enjoyed God's protection and blessing. This can also represent the human race who has been called to repent and have also been the recipient of God's overall blessing, sometimes called "common grace." Yet few are chosen. Those who are called are held responsible for not responding. Those who are chosen enter into the kingdom. The parable of the banquet lays this out succinctly. Many were called to the banquet. Only those provided with appropriate wedding apparel are chosen to partake. 

We get a lesson on working within the world system in the issue of paying taxes (Mt 22:15-22). The Jews who challenge Jesus are clearly part of the system. This is evidenced by the fact that they have the currency of the realm and live within the Roman economic system. As they try to manipulate Jesus into showing allegiance to Rome by supporting the Roman taxes, a move that would alienate the Jews, or to show allegiance to Jerusalem by teaching not to pay the taxes, a move that would alienate the Romans--Jesus tells them they have to do both, honor God and honor Rome. They honor God in their worship and their faith. But they honor the world system that they live and benefit from insofar as they are able to while maintaining their commitment to godly living. 

Jesus shatters some preconceptions about heaven to a group of Sadducees (Mt 22:23-33). The Sadducees try to make Jesus look foolish by mocking the resurrection and the complications they see in believing in an after-life. Their hypothetical woman, widowed multiple times, has a dilemma if there is a resurrection. According to Mosaic law, she would be married to all of her former husbands. Their aim is to point out the absurdity of the resurrection, assuming the resurrection functions the same as the earthly realm and is subject to earthly laws.   

Jesus rebukes them for not believing their Scripture which teaches a resurrection (Is 26:9; Dan 12:2; Job 19:25-27). Their mistake is in thinking that God's coming kingdom will be just like their earthly kingdom. Jesus tells them things will change. There will be no need for marriage. God's children will have glorified bodies similar to the angels (the Sadducees also denied the existence of angels). All those who are saved will exist in total unity and harmony with each other and with God. There will be no pairing off, no need for companionship, no loneliness. The body will be perfectly united and in the presence of God. 

Notice, Jesus sums up the Law in Mt 22:34-40. He does not abrogate it or proclaim it to be null and void. He actually affirms it but boils it down to two overriding principals: love God and love each other. In many ways, He makes the Law even more prominent in the life of a believer. 

The core of the religious rulers' struggle with Jesus is found in Mt 22:41-45. They can't figure out who Jesus claims to be. Is He the King of the Jews, descended from David? Is He the Son of God? Jesus quotes from Psalm 110, a Psalm believed by the Jews to be Messianic. In essence, Jesus answers, "Yes!" to both questions. He is the King of the Jews, descended from David and He is the Son of God, the Messiah. Jesus transcends their limited ideas of who He is.

In Mk 12, Jesus relates the parable of the Tenants to the Pharisees.  It is an obvious slap in the face to them. They know they are the evil tenants. 

Jesus continues teaching on taxes, the resurrection, the great commandment and who He is (all in Mt 22). With each teaching, He humiliates the religious rulers and exposes them for the shallow, false teachers they are. We read much the same lesson in His warning about the Scribes in Mk 12:38-40. 

Finally, Jesus tells them in the incident with the widow and her mites (Mk 12:41-44) that it's not how much they give, it's the attitude of the heart that gives.  

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