Matthew 22 – Jesus Answers and Asks Difficult Questions
A. The parable of the wedding feast.
1. (1-3) The first invitation is refused.
And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come.”
a. Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables: Jesus continued to explain to the religious leaders and to the listening crowds the danger of rejecting Him.
b. A certain king who arranged a marriage for his son: A wedding was (and often is today) the most significant social event of a person’s life. The wedding of a prince would be a spectacular event, and an invitation would normally be prized.
i. This parable is similar in many ways to one found in Luke 14:15-24. Yet the differences between the two parables are even more evident. “Most preachers will use a good story more than once, and in different forms to suit different contexts, and there is no improbability in Jesus doing likewise.” (France)
c. They were not willing to come: It seems strange that those invited refused an invitation to a royal wedding. This illustrates the principle that there is no logical reason God’s good gifts are refused.
2. (4-7) The second invitation is refused and the king reacts.
“Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.”‘ But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.”
a. Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared”: The king persisted in making the invitation as attractive as possible. He really wanted those invited to come.
i. Barclay says that when a great social event happened in the Jewish culture of that day, people were invited but without a set time. On the appropriate day, when the host was ready to receive the guests, they sent out messengers to say that all things were ready and it was time to come to the feast.
ii. “So, then, the king in this parable had long ago sent out his invitations; but it was not till everything was prepared that the final summons was issued – and insultingly refused.” (Barclay)
iii. All things are ready is the message of the gospel. You don’t come to God’s feast and prepare your own meal. He has made it ready for you; you come to receive.
b. But they made light of it and went their ways: The reaction of those invited made no sense, but it does give an accurate description of the reaction of many to the gospel. Many made light of it; others go back to their business.
i. “The rebel seemed to say, ‘Let the King do as he likes with his oxen and his fatlings; I am going to look after my farm, or attend to my merchandise.” (Spurgeon)
c. He was furious…and he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers: The king rightfully brought judgment upon the offenders. Not only did they reject his invitation, but they also murdered his messengers.
i. This was a prophecy of what would happen to Jerusalem, the city whose religious leaders so strongly rejected Jesus and His gospel.
3. (8-10) The third invitation.
“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.”
a. As many as you find, invite to the wedding: The king was determined that he would not have an empty banquet hall, so an invitation was given to all who would hear.
b. Those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both good and bad: When the first and second invitations were so dramatically rejected, the third invitation was made more broadly. All were invited, whether good or bad.
i. In this sense, we can say this is a parable about grace. Those who were invited – and who came – were utterly undeserving of the invitation, much less the wedding feast itself.
4. (11-14) The man without a wedding garment.
“But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”
a. When the king came to see the guests: The king carefully examined his guests to see if they all wore the garments that were customarily offered to those attending a wedding feast.
b. A man there who did not have on a wedding garment: The man without a robe was conspicuous by his difference. He came inappropriately dressed and the king noticed.
i. There is debate among commentators as to if it was customary for a king or nobleman to offer his guests a garment to wear at such an occasion. There seems to have been some tradition of this among the Greeks, but no evidence of the practice in the days of Jesus.
ii. Quite apart from who supplied the proper garments, the man clearly was out of place. “Is it fit to come to such a feast in thy worst? In the leathern coats, in the tattered rags and menstruous clouts of wretched old Adam?” (Trapp)
iii. “He came because he was invited, but he came only in appearance. The banquet was intended to honor the King’s Son, but this man meant nothing of the kind; he was willing to eat the good things set before him, but in his heart there was no love either for the King or his well-beloved Son.” (Spurgeon)
iv. He was speechless: “He was muzzled or haltered up, that is, he held his peace, as though he had had a bridle or a halter in his mouth. This is the import of the Greek word here used.” (Trapp)
c. Cast him into outer darkness: The man who did as he pleased at the wedding feast, instead of honoring the king and conforming to his expectations, suffered a terrible fate.
i. “He had, by his action, if not in words, said, ‘I am a free man, and will do as I like.’ So the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him.’ Pinion him; let him never be free again. He had made too free with holy things; he had actively insulted the King.” (Spurgeon)
ii. This parable demonstrates that those indifferent to the gospel, those antagonistic against the gospel, and those unchanged by the gospel share the same fate. None of them enjoyed the king’s feast.
d. For many are called, but few are chosen: This statement of Jesus, in this context, touches on the great working together of the choices of man and the choosing of God. Why did they not come to the wedding party? Because they refused the invitation. Why did they not come to the wedding party? Because they were called, but not chosen.
B. Question from the Pharisees.
1. (15-17) After a flattering introduction, the Pharisees ask Jesus a problematic question.
Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”
a. Plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk: Here the Pharisees and the Herodians worked together. This was evidence of their great hatred of Jesus, because they were willing to put aside their own differences for the sake of uniting against Jesus.
i. The Herodians: “The name of this party probably originated in a kind of hero-worship for Herod the Great.” (Bruce)
ii. Jesus had been directly accusing and exposing the religious leaders; now they are fighting back. “Now we see the Jewish leaders launching their counterattack; and they do so by directing at Jesus carefully formulated questions.” (Barclay)
b. We know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do you care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men: Their plotting led them to approach Jesus with flattery. They hoped He was insecure or foolish enough to be impressed by their hollow praise.
i. “Here is a fair glove, drawn upon a foul hand.” (Trapp)
ii. “The compliment, besides being treacherous, was insulting, implying that Jesus was a reckless simpleton who would give Himself away, and a vain man who could be flattered.” (Bruce)
c. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Jesus’ dilemma with this question was simple. If He said that taxes should be paid, He could be accused of denying the sovereignty of God over Israel (making Himself unpopular with the Jewish people). If He said that taxes should not be paid, He made Himself an enemy of Rome.
i. “Lawful does not refer to Roman law (there was no question about that!), but to the law of God; is it permissible for the people of God to express allegiance to a pagan emperor?” (France)
ii. Barclay claims there were three regular taxes. There was the ground tax, which was a 10% tax on grain production and a 20% tax on oil and wine. There was the income tax, which was 1% of a man’s income. And there was the poll tax, paid by every man from 14 to 65 years of age and every woman from 12 to 65 years of age; this tax was a denarius a year.
iii. This particular tax was the poll tax. “Paying the poll tax was the most obvious sign of submission to Rome…Zealots claimed the poll tax was a God-dishonoring badge of slavery to the pagans.” (Carson)
2. (18-22) Jesus answers: give to Caesar what is his, but give to God what belongs to God.
But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money.” So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.
a. Whose image and inscription is this: Again, with His wise answer, Jesus showed that He was in complete control. He rebuked the wickedness and hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Herodians.
b. Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s: Jesus affirmed that the government makes legitimate requests of us. We are responsible to God in all things, but we must be obedient to government in matters civil and national.
i. Peter said it like this: Fear God. Honor the king. (1 Peter 2:17)
ii. “Every Christian has a double citizenship. He is a citizen of the country in which he happens to live. To it he owes many things. He owes the safety against lawless men which only a settled government can give; he owes all public services.” (Barclay)
iii. “Render generally means ‘give back’ (whereas the verb they had used in verse 17 was simple ‘give’). It is the verb for paying a bill or settling a debt; they owe it to him.” (France)
c. And to God the things that are God’s: Everyone has the image of God impressed upon them. This means that we belong to God, not to Caesar, or not even to ourselves.
i. “By treating them as distinct Jesus said in effect: The kingdom of God is not of this world, it is possible to be a true citizen of the kingdom and yet quietly submit to the civil rule of a foreign potentate.” (Bruce)
ii. “It establishes the limits, regulates the rights, and distinguishes the jurisdiction of the two empires of heaven and earth. The image of princes stamped on their coin denotes that temporal things belong all to their government. The image of God stamped on the soul denotes that all its faculties and powers belong to the Most High, and should be employed in his service.” (Clarke)
iii. Had the Jews rendered unto God His due, they would have never had to render anything to Caesar. In New Testament times, they would never have endured the occupying oppression of the Roman Empire if they had been obedient to their covenant with God.
C. Question from the Sadducees.
1. (23-28) The Sadducees attempt to ridicule the idea of the resurrection.
The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, saying: “Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were with us seven brothers. The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother. Likewise the second also, and the third, even to the seventh. Last of all the woman died also. Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her.”
a. The Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection: The Sadducees were the ancient version of the modern liberal theologians. They were anti-supernaturalistic, only accepting the first five books of Moses as authentic – and disregarding what was written in those books when it pleased them to do so.
i. “The Sadducees were not many in number; but they were the wealthy, the aristocratic, and the governing class.” (Barclay)
ii. “At Jesus’ time Judaism as a whole held surprising diverse views of death and what lies beyond it.” (Carson)
b. Now there were with us seven brothers: The Sadducees asked Jesus a hypothetical – and ridiculous – question, hoping to show that the idea of the resurrection is nonsense. Based on Deuteronomy 25:5-10, if a married man died childless, it was his brother’s responsibility to impregnate his brother’s widow and then count the child as the deceased husband’s descendant. The Pharisees imagined elaborate circumstances along these lines and raised the question, “Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be?“
i. This practice of a brother-in-law marrying the widow of his brother is known as levirate marriage. The term comes from the Latin “lavir,” meaning “brother-in-law.” This is the specific idea in the question. “Marry is not the normal Greek word, but a technical term for the performance of the levirate duty.” (France)
ii. “Probably, this was one of the stock stories they were in the habit of telling in order to cast ridicule upon the resurrection.” (Spurgeon)
2. (29) Jesus’ reply: you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God.
Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.”
a. You are mistaken: The Sadducees connected their thoughts to a Biblical passage, but did not think through the passage correctly. These highly-trained men were mistaken in their basic understanding of Biblical truth.
b. Not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God: Their mistake was rooted in two causes. First, they did not know the Scriptures (though they thought they did). Second, they did not know the power of God, being basically anti-supernaturalists. This was true of them, even though religion was their career and they were highly trained.
i. Not knowing the Scriptures: It is possible for a person to have much Bible knowledge, yet not fundamentally know the Scriptures. Paul later told Timothy to hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me (2 Timothy 1:13). This suggests that Biblical truth has a pattern to it, a pattern that can be detected by the discerning heart. It also suggests that one can lose this pattern (thus the command to hold fast). The Sadducees had Bible knowledge, but they did not hold fast the pattern of sound words; many today are like them in this respect.
ii. Nor the power of God: The Sadducees denied supernatural truths such as the existence of angelic beings and the bodily resurrection. They had a fundamental doubt of the power of God to do beyond what they could measure and understand in the material world; many today are like the Sadducees in this respect.
iii. “If you knew the power of God, you would know that God is able to raise the dead…If you knew the Scriptures, you would know that God will raise the dead.” (Poole)
3. (30-33) Jesus answers: resurrection life is different.
“For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His teaching.
a. In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage: First, Jesus reminded them that life in the resurrection is quite different from this life. It does not merely continue this world and its arrangements, but it is life of a completely different order.
i. This passage has made many wonder if marriage relationships will exist in heaven, or if those who are husband and wife on earth will have no special relationship in heaven. We are not told enough about life in the world beyond to answer in great detail, but we can understand a few principles.
· Family relationships will still be known in life in the world beyond. The rich man Jesus described in the afterlife was aware of his family relationships (Luke 16:27-28).
· The glory of heaven will be a relationship and connection with God that surpasses anything else, including present family relationships (Revelation 21:22-23).
ii. If it seems that life in the resurrection that Jesus spoke of here does not include some of the pleasures of life we know on earth, it is only because the enjoyments and satisfactions of heaven far surpass what we know on earth. We can’t be completely certain what life in glory beyond will be like, but we can know with certainty that no one will be disappointed with the arrangements (Revelation 22:1-5).
iii. This question is not merely theoretical. There will be many in heaven who have had more than one spouse, for any number of reasons. Jesus here told us that jealousy and exclusion will have no place in heaven.
iv. This Biblical understanding of heaven is dramatically different from the more sensual dreams of heaven, such as those found in Islamic and Mormon theology. “Mahomet, as he professed that himself had a special license given him by God to know what woman he would, and to put them away when he would; so he promised to all his votaries and adherents the like carnal pleasures at the resurrection.” (Trapp)
b. Are like the angels of God in heaven: Jesus here said that the angels of God in heaven do not marry; we presume this includes that they do not have sexual relationships.
i. The most obvious point must not be neglected: Jesus told the Sadducees that angels were real. “In fact, Jesus’ use of angels contains a double thrust since the Sadducees denied their existence.” (Carson)
ii. Angels are consistently represented in the Bible as male figures, and never specifically as female figures (Genesis 18:2, 16; Genesis 19:1-11).
iii. This raises a question because of the probable connection of fallen angelic beings and human sexuality described in Genesis 6:1-8 and Jude 6-7. Yet the words of Jesus do not exclude such a connection for several reasons.
· Jesus spoke of the angels of God in heaven, not the fallen angelic beings indicated in the Genesis and Jude passages.
· Jesus did not say that angelic beings were incapable of sexual expression, only that such relationships did not exist among the angels in heaven.
· We can’t be certain of the type of sexual connection indicated in the Genesis and Jude passages. It is entirely possible that the connection was not between material appearances of these angelic beings and humans, but that the evil angelic beings expressed themselves through uniquely demon-possessed humans.
c. But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: Jesus demonstrated the reality of the resurrection using only the Torah; the five books of Moses, which were the only books the Sadducees accepted as authoritative. If Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did not live on in resurrection, then God would say that He was the God of Abraham, instead of saying “I am the God of Abraham.”
i. “The living God is the God of living men; and Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are still alive and identified as the same persons who lived on earth.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “As no man can be a father without children, nor a king without a people, so, strictly speaking, the Lord cannot be called the God of any but the living.” (Calvin, cited in France)
D. Question from a Scribe.
1. (34-36) Question from a lawyer among the Pharisees: which is the greatest commandment?
But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
a. When the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered: Matthew gives us the fascinating scene of the opponents of Jesus working hard to embarrass Him – and working unsuccessfully.
i. “They came together probably echoes deliberately the plotting of the heathen against God’s anointed in Psalm 2:2.” (France)
b. Asked Him a question, testing Him: This question was also planned to trap Jesus. In asking Jesus to choose one great commandment, they hoped to make Jesus show neglect for another area of the law.
i. “The Rabbins reckoned up 613 commandments of the law; and distinguished them into the greater and the lesser. These later they thought might be neglected or violated with little or no guilt.” (Trapp)
2. (37-40) Jesus answers: Loving God and your neighbor.
Jesus said to him, ” ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
a. Jesus said to him: Perfectly understanding the essence of the law, Jesus had no difficulty answering. Instead of promoting one command over another, Jesus defined the law in its core principles: love the Lord with everything you have and love your neighbor as yourself.
i. It is clear enough what it means to love the Lord with all we are, though it is impossible to do perfectly. But there has been much confusion about what it means to love your neighbor as yourself. This doesn’t mean that we must love ourselves before we can love anyone else; it means that in the same way we take care of ourselves and are concerned about our own interests, we should take care and have concern for the interests of others.
ii. The first and great commandment: “In respect of order, quantity, and dignity.” (Trapp)
b. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets: God’s moral expectation of man can be briefly and powerfully said in these two sentences. If the life of God is real in our life, it will show by the presence of this love for God and others.
i. “Moses summed up all in the ten commandments, to which, truly interpreted, all the precepts of Scripture are reducible. Christ here brings the ten to two.” (Poole)
E. Jesus asks a question of His opponents.
1. (41-42a) Jesus asks about the lineage of the Messiah.
While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?”
a. While the Pharisees were gathered together: Before they could think of another question to test Him, Jesus asked them a question.
b. What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He? This was similar to the question Jesus asked of His disciples in Matthew 16:13-15 (Who do you say that I am?). Jesus confronted His opponents with the need to decide who He was, connecting Himself to the Old Testament understanding of the Messiah (the Christ).
2. (42b) The Pharisees identify the lineage of the Messiah.
They said to Him, “The Son of David.”
a. The Son of David: This is one of the great Old Testament titles of the Messiah. Founded on the covenant God made with King David in 2 Samuel 7, it identifies the Christ as the chosen descendant of King David’s royal line (see also Jeremiah 23:5-6, Isaiah 9:6-7, and Luke 1:31-33).
b. The Son of David: It is possible that the Pharisees did not know or had forgotten that Jesus was of the line of King David and was even born in Bethlehem, the city of David. When Jesus recently entered Jerusalem, it was noted that He was from Nazareth, and perhaps His connection to King David had been unknown or forgotten (Matthew 21:11).
3. (43-45) Jesus is not only David’s Son; He is also David’s Lord.
He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool”‘? If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?”
a. How then does David in the Spirit call Him “Lord”: The Pharisees were partially right in saying that the Messiah is the Son of David. But they didn’t have a complete understanding of who the Messiah is. He is not only David’s Son (a reference to His humanity), but He is also David’s Lord (a reference to the deity of Jesus, the Messiah).
i. “The force of Jesus’ argument depends on his use of Psalm 110, the most frequently quoted OT chapter in the NT.” (Carson)
ii. This is the idea communicated in Revelation 22:16: I am the root and the offspring of David, and Romans 1:4, which shows Jesus as both the Son of David and the Son of God. We must not neglect either facet of Jesus’ person. He is truly man and truly God, and can only be our Savior if He is both.
b. If David then calls Him “Lord,” how is He his Son? Jesus’ brilliantly simple explanation of the Scriptures put the Pharisees on the defensive. They did not want to admit that the Messiah was also the Lord God, but Jesus showed this is true from the Scriptures.
i. “What did Jesus mean? He can have meant only one thing – that the true description of him is Son of God. Son of David is not an adequate title; only Son of God will do.” (Barclay)
4. (46) Jesus’ enemies in retreat.
And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore.
a. No one was able to answer Him a word: The religious leaders hoped to trap Jesus and embarrass Him in front of the Passover pilgrims that crowded Jerusalem and heard Him teach. Yet Jesus embarrassed them instead.
i. “Yet even their silence was a tribute. The teacher who never attended the right schools (John 7:15-18) confounds the greatest theologians in the land. And if his question (Matthew 22:45) was unanswerable at this time, a young Pharisee, who may have been in Jerusalem at the time, was to answer it in due course (Romans 1:1-4; 9:5).” (Carson)
b. Nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore: Logic and rhetoric proved useless in attacking Jesus. Now His enemies would use treachery and violence instead.
i. Jesus was done debating with the religious leaders. “From now on he will not debate with the authorities, but will go over their heads to the crowd.” (France)
©2013 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission