Passion Week – Tuesday
The Sadducees had just questioned Jesus about the resurrection.
When the Pharisees saw that they did not have success, they approached Jesus with a question about the commandments.
Remember, they felt they were the authority on the Law of Moses.
The Great Commandment – Matthew 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-34
Matthew 22:34–36 (NKJV) 34But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
- Mark tells us this lawyer was a scribe.
- The lawyers were the scribes of the Pharisees.
- They considered that they were the most conservative students of the Law of Moses.
- They tried to shape the religious life of the Jews through their traditions.
- Since they thought they were the custodians of the Law of Moses, they felt they had the right and duty to question Jesus.
Which is the great commandment in the law?
Jesus answered by quoting the Jewish confession of faith called the Shema.
- It is called the shema because it begins with the Hebrew word “hear” – [shema].
- The “shema” is found in Deuteronomy 6:4-5.
Deuteronomy 6:4–5 (NKJV) 4“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 5You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
- The blessing for obeying this command is found in Deuteronomy 11:13-21.
Mark 12:29–31 (NKJV) 29Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
- In Matthew, Jesus said: “On these two commandments all the Law and the Prophets are based.”
- If anyone could perfectly love God and their neighbor they would fulfill all of the requirements of the Law and Prophets.
Why is love the sum of all moral obligations? Why are the Law and Prophets based on love?
- The first commandment summarizes the first four ten commandments that give man’s relationship to God.
- The second gives the essence of commandments five through ten, which teach how to love one’s neighbor.
Mark 12:32–33 (NKJV) 32So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. 33And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
- Notice that the scribe said that love to God and one’s neighbor is more important than religious ceremonies.
- He knew the value of love.
- Public display of piety (religiousness) without inward personal holiness is useless.
- God looks on the heart.
- When the inward man is right with God, outward actions will please God.
Mark 12:34 (NKJV) 34Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” But after that no one dared question Him.
- You are not far from the kingdom of God.
- He was near but not in.
How is it possible to be near but not in?
When the Pharisees dared not ask another question, Jesus asked them a question.
Whose Son is Jesus? – Matthew 22:41-46; Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44
Matthew 22:41–42 (NKJV) 41While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” They said to Him, “The Son of David.”
- The “Son of David” is a Messianic name that is associated with Jesus’ miracles and healings.
Why is Christ considered to be the Son of David?
How can Jesus the Christ be the Son of David and the Son of God? (Read Jeremiah 23:5-6 for help.)
Jeremiah 23:5–6 (NKJV) 5“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. 6In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS
Matthew 22:43–45 (NKJV) 43He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying: 44‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool” ’? 45If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?”
- If they answered this question, they would have to understand the virgin birth and accept Jesus as the Christ.
- If the Pharisees would have accepted Jesus as the Messiah, they could have entered into the Kingdom of God.
Matthew 22:46 (NKJV) 46And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore.
The next discourse is one of five lengthy discourses in Matthew. (Matthew 23–25)
The main theme of this discourse relates to judgment for rejecting the Messiah.
Judgment on the Scribes and Pharisees – Matthew 23; Mark 12:38-40; Luke 20:45-57
- In Mark and Luke, the Lord’s judgment on the scribes and Pharisees is much shorter and includes the same warnings.
Luke 20:45–47 (NKJV) 45Then, in the hearing of all the people, He said to His disciples, 46“Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, 47who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.”
- Jesus was warning the crowd of the scribes and Pharisees.
- They try to look religious, but their actions are wrong.
- They had high talk and a low walk.
Matthew gives a clear word about their behavior.
Matthew 23:1–3 (NKJV) 1Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, 2saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.
Why did Jesus tell them to observe whatever they tell you, but do not do what they are doing?
Matthew 23:4-5 (NKJV) For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments.
- A phylactery is a small black leather cube or box that has portions of scripture inside.
- The use of phylacteries was Orthodox and pious Jews attempt to fulfill the requirements of Exodus 13:9, 16; Deuteronomy 6:8; Deuteronomy 11:18.
What good is it to carry a huge Bible if you do not do what it says?
- God wanted them to continually keep the words of the Law before them and allow those words to guide their activities.
- They reduced spiritual commands to physical activities.
- They felt that the larger their phylactery, the more spiritual.
- The borders of their garments were trimmed with blue cords.
- These cords were intended to remind them that they were God’s special people.
- They overlooked the spiritual lesson and satisfied themselves with a larger phylactery and longer fringes.
Matthew 23:6–12 (NKJV) 6They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 7greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ 8But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. 9Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 11But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Why is humility so important? How did Jesus humble Himself?
In Matthew 23:13-36, Jesus pronounces EIGHT WOES of condemnation on the scribes and Pharisees.
- They don’t enter the kingdom of heaven and do not allow others to enter. (vs. 13)
- They take widows’ houses and cover it up by making long prayers. (vs.14)
- They took huge efforts to make converts to their philosophy and then made their converts more wicked than they were. (vs. 15)
- Their reasoning was flawed. If you swore by the temple you were not obligated to pay, but if you swore by the gold of the temple you had to perform your vow. (vss. 16-22) [Gifts given for carnal motives are valueless.]
- They paid the full tithe but ignored justice, mercy, and faith.
- They maintained an outward religious morality, but their hearts were filled with extortion and self-indulgence. (vss. 25-26)
- They whitewashed their hypocrisy and lawlessness to outwardly appear righteous to others. (vss. 27-28)
- They built tombs of the prophets and adorned monuments for the righteous and said they would not have killed the prophets. (vss. 29-30)
After pronouncing these woes, Jesus told the scribes and Pharisees what would happen to them.
Matthew 23:31–36 (NKJV) 31“Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. 33Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? 34Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, 35that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
Jesus is saying they fill up the measure of their father’s quilt.
- The scribes and Pharisees were responsible for all of the unjust deaths of righteous people.
This chapter that contains the woe of the Lord Jesus ends with His tears over Jerusalem.
Matthew 23:37–39 (NKJV)
37“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ”
This grief-filled lament over Jerusalem comes as a result of the eight woes of the Lord Jesus.
- The Lord takes no pleasure in the desolation and destruction of those He loves.