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Reading through the New Testament in a year is our goal.  This week's readings are from Matthew 22 thru 25.  
Yesterday I looked at the first of the many confrontations that will take place this week in our readings.  The Religious rulers are on a quest to see Jesus condemned, and Jesus is confronting the shallowness of their religious show.  This is the notes I wrote about today's reading.
Tuesday, reading through the New Testament, we come to the last half of Matthew 22:23-46. Read the section and come back so that we might think a bit more about what is happening.
I mentioned yesterday that there were three confrontational questions given by the Religious authorities in their quest to trip Jesus up. In these questions, we get a glimpse of the two main groups of religious leaders in Jesus’ day.
First, it was the Sadducees who came to Jesus with a rather obscure “what if” scenario concerning the laws of raising up children when a husband passes away. Sadducees were the “liberals” of their day. They didn’t believe in the bodily resurrection, instead, believing that only the soul survives into eternity. They rejected the entirety of the Old Testament and only embraced the 5 Books of Moses (the Torah). In general, they were the Aristocrats, the wealthy rulers of the Temple.
To them Jesus’ answer is one that is important for us today: He says to them, “you do not know the Scriptures, nor the power of God”. I am never surprised by our culture's leaders, personalities and pundits who express disdain for the Scriptures and have no concept of God. Jesus didn’t spend a lot of time arguing with them, he simply points to the Scripture and says, “God is the God of the living, not the dead”...I.e. Of course the resurrection is really going to happen.
On a quick note: I’ve had people - sometimes sadly - ask “does Jesus mean we won’t have relationships like husband/wife?” The picture he gives of what heaven is like is that relationships will be full and not defined by earthly families since all will be children of God in God’s family. He is not saying that we will become angels, nor that we will be neither men or women; but just like Angels, we will live together in a heavenly home. Let me add: there’s so much of this I don’t know...much more than I do know. When the great theologian Dr. Gerstner was once asked, “What’s heaven like?”, he answered, “I don’t know, I’ve not gotten there yet.” Good answer.
The second group was the Pharisees. They were the conservatives, the word Pharisee meaning “Pure Ones”. They were ardent students and protectors of God’s word, yet their narrow concerns turned them into finger-pointing legalists. In contrast to the Sadducees, they defended all of the Old Testament Scriptures. They ask Jesus a simple question about the greatest commandment, which he answers by referring back to Deuteronomy 6:5; but then adds Leviticus 19:18 to expand the command to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, but let that spill over into loving your “neighbor” - literally not the people next door, but the people “close to you”...seemingly, the daily encounters we have at all times.
Yet, Jesus doesn’t end here. Since they were such students of the word, he asks them a question concerning Psalm 110, when David - remember Jesus is often called the Son of David - says that “The Lord (Yahweh) says to My Lord (Messiah) sit at my right hand...”. Jesus asks them, “how can the Son be also the Lord?” They couldn’t answer the obvious because they had rejected Jesus as God.
These last 2 encounters are going to lead into the 23rd chapter and Jesus’ most scathing rebuke of the religious leaders - on all sides.
Honoring Jesus is more than believing something “about” him; it’s believing “IN” him for life now and into eternity.
Peace

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