In this message on Matthew 21:23–22:46 , Deric Thomas challenges rejection of Christ and encourages us to believe in Christ’s authority. From Christ’s incarnation to the work of the Holy Spirit, many people question many parts of the truth of the Bible and God’s work. However, we can believe with confidence that Christ will ultimately be proven. He highlights three ways God the Father is rejected by some people.
- We see the rejection of one of his son’s.
- We see the rejection of some of his servants.
- We see the rejection of some of his invited guests.
The one true and living God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—He alone rightly deserves all of our submission, our complete trust and allegiance, our full devotion. He is our rightful, good and perfect authority.
As I have pondered this truth this last week, I have been freshly reminded of the fact that so many have been deeply hurt and wounded and have felt the pain of misused and abused authority throughout their life, whether it was from a sinful and controlling parent—a mother or father. Maybe the pain of misused authority by a sibling, maybe a boss, possibly even a spouse, government official. Maybe even a religious leader.
In fact, I’m old enough now, 32, and I’ve been a pastor long enough to know that everyone in this room in some way, myself included, have been deeply hurt by someone who was in a position of authority over you, who misused that position and that power and caused great and deep suffering in your life and in the life of those around you. And I want you to hear me say this morning, I want you to hear Matthew’s Gospel say this morning, that the one true and living God is perfect—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—and He alone deserves our ultimate and full and complete submission—joyful submission—and trust that He alone rightly deserves.
Now, I know in a room this size that not everyone will trust Him and submit to Him in this way. Maybe there are some here today who are holding back from Him for some reason. And I pray that you would surrender fully to the glorious God that deserves all that you are. And now I pray that you would find the joy and the peace and life and the love that is found in submission to Him alone.
Please turn with me in your Bible to Matthew chapter 21. We’ll pick up there in Matthew’s Gospel in verse 23, where David left off last week. I want to encourage you to pray for David this morning. He is away in the horn of Africa with a team from the Church at Brook Hills visiting some of those that we have sent out to that area in the past. He wanted me to tell you that they’re having a great time there, encouraging brothers and sisters, that God is opening doors for the gospel. And you can actually read about it online on the website on the Global Blog this afternoon.
Matthew 21:23–22:46 reminds us some question Jesus’ authority
Matthew has made it clear up to this point in his Gospel from chapter one all the way to chapter 21 and verse 22 that Jesus Christ is in fact the Son of God, that He is the Messiah, the promised one that was spoken about from Genesis to Malachi. This morning we are going to see him continue that theme, that truth, that Jesus is the King of all kings and that He is the Lord of all lords. We’ll also see this morning a truth that Matthew knew all too well, and that is in light of all of these things that he’s talked about in the first 21 chapters, still some question Jesus’ authority.
Some still question Jesus’ authority. We see that in the story in verse 23. Would you read along with me in verse 23? “And when he,” that is Jesus, “entered the temple,” that’s the place of Jewish worship, “the chief priests and the elders of the people,” the religious leaders and members of the Jewish ruling body called the Sanhedrin, “came up to him as he was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?’” Notice how they’re questioning Jesus’ authority, and then notice the way that Jesus answers them in verse 24.
“Jesus answered them, ‘I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things.’” You see, Jesus knew Who had given Him authority to do what He was doing. He knew that God the Father had granted Him that authority. He knew that the Father had granted Him the authority to go into the capital city of Israel, Jerusalem, to go into the temple there in Jerusalem and to cleanse it—to purify it. Jesus knew that the Father had given Him authority to be worshipped by the people as He made His way into the city. Jesus knew that the Father is the One Who had given Him authority to teach in the temple courts, as He’s doing now.
Let’s continue reading in verse 25, the question that Jesus asked them. “‘The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?’ And they discussed it among themselves, saying, ‘If we say, “From heaven,” he will say to us, “Why then did you not believe him?” But if we say, “From man,” we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.’”
Notice how Jesus points them back to John the Baptist, to his ministry and message. John made it crystal clear, along with Matthew, that Jesus was in fact the promised one, the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, the King. And because Jesus and John’s ministry and message was so clear, He knew that this question that He was asking them would uncover what was in their hearts. So notice how the chief priests and elders respond to Jesus in verse 27. Look at it. “So they answered Jesus,” in a smoke-screen of agnosticism, “‘We do not know.’ And he said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.’”
At root, we see that their questioning of Jesus’ authority was based on the fact that they wanted to know whether it was from God or from man. “Jesus, Your authority—is it from God or is it from man?” These are some of the same questions that people have today about Jesus, isn’t it? Is Christianity from God or is it just another man-made religion?
Notice in this story where these questions come from. Remember that these men had already rejected John’s message, even as they are now rejecting Jesus’s, and see that these questions often come from unbelief. They knew that Jesus was basically asking them, “Why did you not believe John? He told you Who I was and where My authority came from.” You see, they had rejected clear revelation from God—personal, specific, verbal, through John the Baptist. They had rejected clear revelation from God in nature that was seen on a daily basis. They observed Jesus, but they continued to reject in unbelief—in fact, unbelief is what ruled their hearts.
We see also that these questions come from misplaced fear. Did you notice that? In verse 26, these questioners of Jesus’ authority had obvious fear of people. They should have believed God, they should have believed God’s prophet John, they should have feared God— which the Bible makes clear is the beginning of wisdom. But instead, they had an unhealthy fear of people. And this is what drove their lives and their questions.
This is also what drives many people’s questions and lives even today: the opinions and the views of other people. This morning, will we submit to God and His Word and His Son Jesus, or will we be tossed to and fro by the opinions and the views of other people? Will we stay in our unbelief, or will we believe? That’s a question for all of us this morning.
This last week I shared a story with my five-year-old daughter Anna. I climbed into bed next to her, put my arm around her, and she laid on me, and I said, “There was a father who had two daughters. And he came to the first daughter and said, ‘Daughter, I want you to go clean your room.’And she said, ‘I will not.’ But later on she changed her mind and she did clean her room. Then the father went to his second daughter and said, ‘I want you to clean your room.’And the second daughter said, ‘I will.’ But she didn’t.”
I promise I didn’t have any motives in saying this story. And then I asked Anna, “Which one of these daughters did the will of her father?” And she said, “The first.” And then what she said, I must say surprised me, and I’m going to do it in her voice, okay? “All of us aw sinners, and all of us need to put aw twust in Jesus.” This story had drawn out what was in her heart. She knew that there were times she didn’t clean her room, that she was a sinner, and that she needed the Savior.
Matthew 21:23–22:46 Reminds Us Some Reject God The Father & His Authority
This is what Jesus wanted these chief priests and elders to recognize when He told them a story very similar to the story that I told my daughter. In fact, I based my story on Jesus’ story that He tells in verse 28. Would you look at it with me; this parable? We’re about to go into three different parables, three stories, that Jesus told, and the first one begins in verse 28, and in it we see that some reject God the Father and His authority. Some reject God the Father and His authority.
We see the rejection of one of his sons. Verse 28, let’s read it. “What do you think?” Jesus says. That’s a good question. He wants them examine life, and their life in particular. “A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” Jesus asked.
Now, before we keep reading, I want you to notice something. Jesus is about to ask basically the same question that He did above. But this time, rather than asking it in a propositional statement kind of way, He asks it through a story. And notice that the story brings out what is in these men’s hearts in a way that their smokescreen of agnosticism—based on His propositional question—did not. It’s almost like they had to answer when they heard the story. And they did answer. They said, “The first.” It’s like they could not help but respond. The story tugged on their hearts and it drew it out of them.
So Jesus responded, and He said to them, listen, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John,” notice again a reference to John’s ministry, “came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe.” See their unbelief again, related to God’s revelation through John. “But the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.”
Did you see that? Jesus, the master teacher, Jesus, the master storyteller, draws out what’s in their hearts through this story. And He says, “You chief priests and elders of the people—you saw the life change that came along with John’s preaching and ministry. You saw people’s lives radically transformed. You saw women who were prostitutes, women who were slaves to men and slaves to sex, women who had given themselves over as slaves to men.
And you saw how they repented, and you saw how they came and they were baptized, and they recognized that when John said there was One Who was coming, Who was greater than him, Whose sandals he was unworthy to untie—they believed that promise of the One Who was to come. And they trusted, and their lives were changed. These women who were searching and longing for something to satisfy their deepest desires, and they found it in water from the cup of the King—better yet, in the hands of King Jesus. And they were satisfied.
And then, Jesus says, “You saw the way that tax collectors—men who were greedy, who were lovers of money, who were unfaithful to their own countrymen and Jew, and behalf of Rome would take taxes. You saw how their lives were changed also.” Like the very man who wrote this Gospel that we’re looking at, Matthew, who himself was a tax collector, and Jesus said, “Matthew, follow Me.” And Matthew turned from his greed and sin and became a giver and lover and a writer and a gospel storyteller himself.
And Jesus said to these men, “You saw the life change and transformation, and yet you still do not believe. You saw the revelation of God’s power. You saw God’s mercy, His grace, His redeeming love. And you hardened your hearts. You say that you love God with your lips, but your heart is far from Him. You are like the second Son,” Jesus said, “who says ‘yes’ but whose life says ‘no.’”
Don’t you see that this is a story of dead faith without works? The same type of dead faith without works that James talks about in his letter in chapter 2? Don’t you see that this is a story of confession without repentance and submission? Some sons, like the first, really did believe, and they trusted in God and His promises. Their faith showed itself in action and loving works. Their confession was from the heart. They actually recognized their sins and turned from theirs sins and submitted to God. But the chief priests and elders did not. Did they have verbal affirmation? Yes. But there was no real repentance and no real submission. How about you? How about you? Is your faith genuine? Have you truly submitted to your God and your Maker and your King? I hope you’re like the first son.
In this next parable we see that some reject the father, and those who reject the father are some of his servants. Look at verse 33. Let’s read it together—another parable, another story. Listen. “Hear another parable,” Jesus says. “There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants,” to servants. “And [he] went into another country. When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. And the tenants took his servants,” and notice what they did, “and beat one, killed another, and stoned another.”
Verse 36, “Again,” patiently, “he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them.” Verse 37 says, “Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.”
All right. Notice the master storyteller again, seeking to draw out what was in their hearts. Of course, the master in this story is the father, right? And the father goes to his vineyard and he’s looking for fruit. He’s looking for evidence of life. A fig tree should produce figs—so where are they? But they refused to give him fruit—these tenants, these servants.
So He follows up the story with a question for them. Notice the question in verse 40. Look at it. “When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” That’s a good question. “What will the owner of the vineyard do,” He asks these chief priests and elders, “when he comes back? Those servants who had rejected him, and he rejected his other servants, and who had even rejected his son? What will he do?” So they answered. They’re ready. Here they are: chief priests, elders, “We know the answer. Here we go!” Verse 41, “They said to him, ‘He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.’”
Good answer, guys. Did you see what Jesus just did? He got these prideful and arrogant and greedy and sinful and unbelieving men to indict themselves. They, just like so many of the other Jewish leaders throughout biblical history, rejected the prophets that God would send. They would even stone some and kill others. But God in His patience continued to send prophets to the nation of Israel, and yet they would reject them and stone them and beat them and kill them. And now He sends them His Son, and surely they will respect His Son? But they kill Him.
Do you see this prophetic word? Jesus is telling this story on Tuesday of Holy Week, and just three days later these very men will kill the Son of God. And they unknowingly confess. Verse 42, look at it. “Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures?” And then He quotes Psalm 118. “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”
“Therefore,” Jesus said, “I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.” So now in redemptive history there’ll be transition, and the kingdom will go from a people, Israel, to the nations—Gentiles, from every tribe and tongue and nation, including of course believing Jews. Verse 44, look at it. “And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” In other words, Jesus says, “Rejection of the Christ will result in severe punishment, like this master who would destroy this city and its people.”
Verse 45, “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. And although they were seeking to arrest him,” they wanted Him dead. Again, look at their fear of people, “they feared the crowds, because they,” the crowds, “held him,” Jesus, “to be a prophet.”
Now, do you see these servants, these chief priests and Pharisees, these members of the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of Israel, who were supposed to be caring for God’s vineyard—His people, His flock, His children—had actually rejected God, God’s spokesmen, His prophets, and they had rejected the cornerstone—the cornerstone, the chief cornerstone that God would send and that He would build His kingdom on. They rejected Him, and as a result, they would be shattered, they would be broken, they would be crushed.
They rejected their Owner, their Maker, their Master, and their God. They rejected God the Father, and notice why. This is the story of selfish anger and greed, isn’t it? These chief priests and elders, these servants, they loved themselves above their Master. They loved themselves above people. Their hearts were filled with greed, and they wanted all the fruit in the vineyard for themselves, and they wanted all the tools that went along with the vineyard, and they wanted more and more and more. And the Master patiently continued to send them people, and they rejected them because they wanted more, and their hearts were filled with greed, and they were never satisfied. And here comes His Son, and they say, “We can have His inheritance. Kill Him.”
The parable would be played out vividly in just three days. They would kill the Son that the Father sent to save Israel, His vineyard, and the world. And they—in selfish anger and full of greed—they killed Him. And, get this, this parable is played out vividly even today where people all over the world kill, persecute, murder Christians in places like the horn of Africa where David and the team are even this morning. People grow in their hatred of the Son of God, but I want to encourage you this morning to beware of greed in your own heart. Oh, beware, beware of the desire for more and more and more.
We see the rejection of some of his invited guests also. Look at chapter 22 and verse one. Read along with me about this glorious party, this invitation. Listen to this story. Verse one, “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.’” Don’t you love weddings? I love going to weddings. I love performing weddings as a pastor. I love the food. Okay, let’s go back. So, here’s a wedding—a wedding banquet that the father invites them to, the king invites them to.
Verse three, “And [he] sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come.” They reject the king. The father continues to be patient with them. Verse four, “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.’” “Come to celebrate! Come to the party! Come and enjoy yourself! Enjoy Me, the King, and My presence. Enjoy My Son. Enjoy His bride. Enjoy everything that I have. All of My good and perfect gifts are yours—if you would come.”
Verse five, “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.” Most believe this was a prophecy of the future destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 by the Romans. Verse eight,
“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.”
This man had no excuse. A garment would have been provided by the king for him, and yet he refused it. He would have known to come to a wedding banquet like this—and to not have proper attire on—he knew that that would be foolish and wrong. And he had no excuse. And so verse 13, “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.”
Do you hear the call of the King to you this morning? Do you hear His invitation to a wedding banquet, a feast, with Him and with His Son and with His Son’s bride, the church? Do you hear the invitation to His kingdom? “Come.” The question is how will you respond to that invitation?
Do you see that this story is a story of ingratitude and rebellion and obstinacy and complacency and anger? Did you see that? They should have been thankful for the invitation, but they rejected it. They dishonored the King. They were involved in their own little kingdoms, remember? They had their little farms and their businesses, and they were building their kingdom. And they missed the kingdom of God. They had no time for the King in His Kingdom. And when the King comes to call them, their complacency changed to anger and hatred and even murder.
Nominal Christianity Doubts God
Don’t you see that this is a story of nominal Christianity? Ingratitude for God and His Word. Ingratitude for His good gifts. Complacency, obstinacy, which at a deeper level is just rebellion against God and His authority. Yeah, Christian in name, but you would never know it by their lives. They do what they want to do when they want to do it and with whomever they want to do it. They are building their own little kingdoms one block at a time, their own little fortunes, all the while calling themselves kids of the King.
They are bothered by people confronting them about their sin. They get angry when people point out their lack of fruit, their selfishness. They have no joy in God. They seek joy and pleasure in the things of this world. They have no real desire to read the Bible and to listen to it taught rightly. They continue to pursue the fleeting and empty joys of this world and what it has to offer them. And the older they get, the more miserable they get, because the things of this world will not satisfy them. And yet they pursue them with passion.
And they build and they build their own little kingdoms, and their kingdoms as they get older begin to crumble as their body begins to crumble. And they lose hair, and it gets gray, and the house they built needs repairs, and their car is rusty. But they hold on, and they end up more miserable. Eventually they get angry at God, and their anger grows. And rather than come to Him and finding their joy in Him and worshipping Him, they continue in rebellion. And they grow colder and crueler and angrier as they get older, and cantankerous, and their hearts grow colder and colder.
And don’t miss how this parable ends. This is a story of eternal rejection. You saw that, right? They reject the King—God the Father—and eventually He rejects them, and rightly punishes them. They find themselves, the parable says, in darkness forever—darkness forever, weeping forever, gnashing of teeth forever—because they rejected the wedding banquet. They find themselves suffering excruciating pain.
Don’t reject the Father. Do you hear His voice this morning, maybe for the first time? Don’t reject Him. Enjoy a relationship with Him. Come to Him. Come to His King Jesus. Come to the Savior; come into His church, His people. Come into His kingdom. Say goodbye to your little kingdoms and come into His. Say yes to the Cornerstone, and begin to build your life on Him.
Matthew 21:23–22:46 Reminds Us Jesus’ Rejecters Often Have Underlying Motives
Jesus’ rejecters often have underlying motives, don’t they? You see this in all of these stories. Look at chapter 22:15 with me, “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.’” Notice how they kind of want to butter Him up and flatter Him. “And you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.” Verse 17, “Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”
Jesus was not tricked. Verse 18:
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.
So, I know what all of you are asking. Should we pay taxes? Yes. Jesus would say to us as Americans, “Give to the U.S. government what she deserves. And better yet, give to God what He deserves.” Give to God your life. You are made in His image and likeness. You were made to reflect Him, and in your sin you have not reflected Him, and you need a Savior. And that is why He sent His Son, so that you could come into His family and be saved and begin to represent His likeness to others as you grow.
I wish we had time to talk more about these verses, but since David gave me almost two chapters and six stories, we’ve got to keep going, okay? So, some are power hungry and prideful. When a person reads the Gospels, it’s clear that the Pharisees are men who are hungry for power and control and authority. You saw them referenced in verse 15 again. They loved power and what it brought to them. They were filled with pride. And in chapter 23 of Matthew, next week, we’ll learn even more about them.
But for now, notice that they did not want to submit to Jesus and His teaching. They did not want to lose power in the eyes of the people. That would have meant their egos being crushed. And even today there are people who reject Jesus because they are power hungry themselves. They want control over themselves, over other people. They are like the Pharisees.
Now, if you see them in public, they might look pretty polished on the outside. Oh, but their spouse knows who they really are. You see them sometimes on the street corners, and they look so distinguished. But their children know who they really are. Their friends and their family—those who know them best—know that they’re hypocrites. They love themselves so much, and they love controlling people. The Pharisees were power hungry and prideful, just like many today.
Some of them who rejected Jesus were worldly and wannabes. Did you notice that in verse 16, that the Pharisees did not go themselves? They had already been put to shame in Jesus’ presence. They sent their disciples, the little Pharisees, who wanted to be like the Pharisees—the wannabe Pharisees.
They sent them—these young men who wanted power and control over their lives and over other people, and so they would tag along with the Pharisees and they would learn from them. “Oh, Rabbi, that is very good!” And they would flatter them and butter them up, because they wanted the positions that they were in. They wanted to be on the Sanhedrin one day. They wanted to be among those 70 rulers in Israel, and they thought if they got around the right people they could.
Did you notice the other group in verse 16 that’s referenced? The Herodians. Now, the Herodians and the Pharisees had so many disagreements on so many levels, and yet they were unified in their opposition to Jesus. These Herodians—who themselves were worldly and wannabes—they loved the world. They loved Herod. They loved Rome. They wanted to be a part of Rome and Herod. They had even suppressed in many ways their Jewish heritage. Hence, “Herodians.” They wanted to be like Herod. They followed him. They looked up to him. They wanted all that the Greco-Roman world could give them. But they were worldly and wannabes.
Even today—listen—even today many choose the worldly and wannabe life. They live in America…they come to America, and they’re infatuated with the American Dream and what they can get and what they can build; how they can construct their own little kingdoms. They choose their country over Christ and over Christianity. They love the world. They love their government. They love their ethnicity and their race. They love their social class. They love themselves. And their love for all of these things supersedes their love for God and their love for His kingdom.
Now, on Memorial Day, should we be thankful for the country that we live in? Yes. Should we praise God for its military and those who have lost their lives for our earthly freedoms? Certainly. But should our nationality and our country supersede the kingdom of God? Never. Never. America may be gone hundreds of years from now. The kingdom of God is eternal. The people that He was speaking to, the Herodians who looked up to Rome and Herod, are gone. The Roman Empire was vast and was glorious—and it’s gone.
Oh, if you choose America over God, you are a fool. We should love God and His Son Jesus more than we love any earthly treasure. In fact, even the things that we’re supposed to love on this earth—our love for God should be so great that our love for these things looks like hatred in comparison. That’s what Jesus taught. And then, we continue reading and find out that some are just secularists and materialists. Like the Sadducees—secular men, materialistic men—who believed that all that mattered was the here and now. There was no life after death, no resurrection. They were the wealthiest members of the Sanhedrin, and they lived for their best life now. And because they thought that this was all there is and all there was and all there ever will be, they were just secular and materialistic.
Look at verse 23, and let’s read about them. Look at it. “The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection,” no life after death, “and they asked him a question.” They, like all the other groups, were trying to trap Him. They wanted Him dead. Verse 24, “Saying, ‘Teacher, Moses said, “If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up children for his brother.” Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother. So too the second and third, down to the seventh.’”
What is wrong with this woman? She’s killed seven men, seven husbands. But obviously this is a made-up story, right? The Sadducees have concocted this story. They would have used it against the Pharisees to prove their point, that there’s no resurrection. She’s got seven husbands in the resurrection? But Jesus has a better answer. Verse 27, “After them all, the woman died,” they said. So their question, “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,” there is life after death, “they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels.” Listen, your question and your logic are wrong, because in the resurrection, well, we’re going to be like angels in that there will be no marriage.
Now, some people hear this who have a bad marriage, and say, “Hallelujah!” If they have a good marriage, like I do, they say, “Man. No marriage?” But Jesus says, “The relationships in the kingdom of God—the relationships in heaven, in the resurrected life—are better than any earthly relationship you have here on earth. In other words, if you love your marriage and your spouse, and she knows Me too, then your relationship with her in the resurrection will be better.” I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. And so will your relationship with those around you.
Verse 31. Notice Jesus’ answer. “And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God.” Now, the Sadducees would have believed the first five books of the Old Testament, what’s called the Torah or the Pentateuch, Genesis to Deuteronomy. And so they had read that of course multiple times, and they missed the fact that it actually taught about the resurrection. And so Jesus quotes from the book of Exodus, and He says this in verse 32, “‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. He is not God of the dead,’” Jesus says, “‘but of the living.’And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.”
He had just taken these Sadducees to their own book of authority, and He showed them that when God said this in the book of Exodus—that He was the God of Abraham—Abraham had died hundreds of years before that was written. But Abraham had been raised, and Abraham was alive, and God was his God on that day. And God was Isaac’s God on that day. And God was Jacob’s God on that day and on this day, and He will be forever. In other words, Sadducees, there is a resurrection, and you will live for eternity somewhere—in weeping and gnashing of teeth, or with the King.
But they chose the secular and materialistic life, and it blinded them from the truth of God’s Word, the truth of the resurrection, the truth of Who Jesus was. So let me ask you, has your love for the here and now blinded you? Has your love for this world and the things that you have accumulated—has it blinded you from Who Jesus is? These Sadducees, they had Jesus standing right before them and they did not recognize that He was the Savior and the Christ. See Him—do you see Him this morning?
Notice also that some are deceived “experts” and cold-hearted “scholars.” And let me warn you not to be led astray by people like this. People who teach in universities and colleges all over the United States and all over the world. People who teach in even Christian-in-name schools in this city and all over. People that you hear talk on the History Channel sometimes, who are distinguished and have many degrees, who are accredited—who are disciples of Satan, who are deceived and who are cold-hearted scholars.
The man that now approaches Jesus in the story that we’re about to read—he was an expert in the law—an expert in the Bible. He was a scholar, and he knew how it was supposed to apply to people’s lives, or so he thought. But he had missed the entire point of the Bible—the very Man that was now standing before him, Jesus of Nazareth—he had missed Him. His head was full, but his heart was cold. Look with me in verse 34 about this man.
“But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together,” in a little football huddle. Ready, break, men. Verse 35. “And one of them, a lawyer,” an expert in the law, “asked him a question to test him.” Here he is, this deceived expert and cold hearted scholar:
“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, I love this passage. I wish we could camp out here. We just don’t have time. Jesus says, “The greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind,” and Mark in his Gospel adds “strength.” And this expert in the law missed that truth, the truth that no one could love God in this way. No one. And no one has done it, and therefore everyone needs a Savior. “And therefore you, expert in the law, need Me,” Jesus would say to him. “No one has loved people as they ought to, and everyone needs a new heart—a new heart that gives them a genuine love for God that grows, and a genuine love for people that grows, one that you don’t have, expert in the law. And you need Me.” But he missed it. He was a deceived expert and a cold-hearted scholar. He had not submitted to the true and living God and His Christ.
Matthew 21:23–22:46 Reminds Us Jesus Questions the Questioners & the Rejecters
Move on to the last section, chapter 22 and verses 41 through 46, where Jesus questions the questioners and the rejecters. Read it with me:
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.
So Jesus quotes from Psalm 110, and He makes it clear that the Messiah was certainly the son of David, but that He was also the Son of God. So Jesus is asking these men—and He’s asking us this morning through this passage, through His Spirit—“Am I the Christ?” What do you say? Is Jesus the Messiah? Have you examined that question? Have you searched the Scriptures? Have you experienced it personally? “Am I the Son of God?” Jesus would say. Not just a good teacher, not just a prophet, not just a morally upright and spiritual man—certainly all of that—but God. And, “Am I the King of your heart?” Have you submitted to Him beyond head knowledge to heart surrender?
Some Reject God the Holy Spirit & His Authority
Now, some reject the Holy Spirit. As is referenced in these passages, they reject Him through the prophets. They reject His words in the Bible, like this Psalm and, well, the whole Old Testament and the New Testament. They reject prophets of God.
God the Son’s Final Authority Will Always be Rejected by Some
Well, finally, God the Son’s final authority will always be rejected by some, by both leaders and followers. We read that in chapter 27, that of course all these religious leaders reject Him, and Pilate rejects Him, and then the people reject Him.
King Jesus’ Deity & Authority was & will be Finally Proven
Well, we also see that King Jesus’ deity and authority was and will be finally proven. And here’s how Christ’s deity and authority will be proven finally—through divine rejection. You say, “What does that mean?” Well, everyone knows what it’s like to be rejected by someone, and some of you fear being rejected by God. You fear death. You fear standing before Him.
But I’ve got good news, that Jesus was rejected by God the Father for His people. He lived the perfect life and did not deserve to die. But on the cross, He took upon Himself the sins of the world. And Matthew chapter 27 and verse 46 says this, “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice…‘My God, my God,’” the Father, “‘why have you forsaken me?’” Jesus was forsaken, He was cut off, by God the Father—listen—so that you could be accepted by God the Father, as His child, as His son, as His invited guest, as His servant, as His little one.
We also see that Jesus’ deity and authority was proven through divine resurrection. We see that in chapter 28, where Jesus says, “Do not fear.” Yes, He’s been crucified, but He is not in the grave. He is risen, and in His resurrection His authority was clear, that He has authority over sin, over death, over hell, over the grave, and in the resurrection it’s proven.
And His authority and deity will finally be proven through His glorious restoration. When He returns in the future—whether today or a thousand years from now—Revelation chapter 21 verse five says, “And he who was seated on the throne,” that is, the King, “said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” Do you believe this? How will you respond to King Jesus today, His work, and His authority? The one true and living God—He is perfect in all of His ways: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And He alone rightly deserves your full and complete submission, allegiance and trust.
- Some question Jesus’ authority. (21:23–27)
- Is it from God or from man?
- These questions often come from unbelief.
- These questions often come from misplaced fear.
- Is it from God or from man?
- Some reject God the Father and his authority. (21:28–22:14)
- We see the rejection of one of his son’s. (21:28–32)
- This is a story of dead faith without works
- .This is a story of confession without repentance and submission.
- We see the rejection of some of his servants. (21:33–46)
- This is a story of selfish anger and greed.
- We see the rejection of some of his invited guests. (22:1–14)
- This is a story of ingratitude, rebellion, obstinence, complacency and anger.
- This is a story of nominal Christianity.
- This is a story of eternal rejection.
- We see the rejection of one of his son’s. (21:28–32)
- Jesus’ rejecters often have underlying motives. (22:15–40)
- Some are power hungry and prideful. (22:15–22)
- Some are worldly and wannabes. (22:16–22)
- Some are secularist and materialist. (22:23–33)
- Some are deceived “experts” and cold–hearted “scholars.” (22:34–40) Jesus questions the questioners and rejecters. (22:41–46)
- Am I the Christ?
- Am I the Son of God?
- Am I the King of your heart? Some reject God the Holy Spirit and his authority. (22:43–44)
- His words through the prophets are rejected by some.
- His words in the Bible are rejected by some.
- God the Son’s final authority will always be rejected by some. (27:1–2, 24–26)
- By leaders and by followers.
- King Jesus’ deity and authority was and will be finally proven. (27:45–28:10)
- Through divine rejection. (27:45–50)
- Through divine resurrection. (28:1–10)
- Through glorious restoration. (28:20, Rev. 21:5)