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DCLM Search The Scripture 5 March 2023: Jesus Confounds The Sadducees And Pharisees


Deeper Christian Life Ministry – Search The Scripture 5 March 2023 (Lesson 52)

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TOPIC: Jesus Confounds The Sadducees And Pharisees (STS 5 March 2023)

MEMORY VERSE: “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew

TEXTS: Matthew 22:1-46; Mark 12:13-37; Luke 20:20-47


The Pharisees and the Sadducees, before Jesus came, had held so much sway that they constituted themselves as the final authority as far as religious matters were concerned. Their hold on the masses was so overwhelming that the people were afraid of opposing them for the fear of being ostracised.

Rather than stay with the word of God, they reduced the teaching of God’s word to mere opinions and traditions. They taught the commandments of men as doctrines, thereby making the word of God of no effect. But the Lord, the Truth personified, showed up with the pure and unadulterated teaching of God’s word, which birthed spiritual life and renewal in the hearers. The people experienced tremendous change, healing, deliverance and reawakening. The response was immediate and the impact far-reaching.

Slowly, but surely, His fame spread and He became a threat to the religious leaders of His days. Sadly, rather than accept Him and align themselves with His doctrines, they made themselves His enemies. This study focuses on the encounter of Christ with the Pharisees and the Sadducees, their plot to “entangle him in his talk”, as well as His supremacy over them in wisdom as regards the commandment of God and the revelation of the Kingdom.

SEVERE CONDEMNATION FOR REJECTING THE GRACIOUS CALL (Matthew 22:1-14; Revelation 19:7-9; psalm 15:1-5; Revelation 22:17; Matthew 11:28-30; Isaiah 55:1-7; Proverbs 1:24-33)

The Lord began by narrating a parable of the Kingdom. He left no one in doubt as He attempted to drive home His message to His audience and aimed more specifically at the religious Pharisees. The Lord was fearless in His declaration of the matters of the Kingdom. At the commencement of His ministry, He announced the Kingdom of heaven and sustained the message. Just like Him, we must maintain the message of the Kingdom in spite of opposition and rejection. This is needful because it is only the good news of the Kingdom that can bring transformational change in man. The parable here reveals that a certain king made a marriage for his son. The king is a depiction of God the Father, the King of heaven and earth, with authority and dignity Who invited guests to the marriage of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The king “…sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden according to the custom in the oriental world. The initial invitation which was usually sent ahead of the occasion was normally followed by a reminder. The king here had given a royal invitation to those who were bidden: a privileged class of guests. The servants’ job was just to notify them that it was time. It is highly probable that they would signify their intention to honour the invitation.

Unfortunately, they turned down the generous invitation of the king at the last minute. Rather than respond in fury to their disregard and insolence, the compassionate king sent out another set of servants again with a more detailed message, assuring them of his readiness and provision that “all things are ready”. All they needed to do was just to come to the marriage. Their response was shocking as “they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them” (Matthew 22:5,6).

The reaction of the king was swift as he passed judgment on them and destroyed them and their city. The parable reveals the relationship of God with the chosen seed of Abraham, Israel, and their response to His divine offer of free salvation. After His extension of the invitation and their refusal to reciprocate, God abandoned them and threw the invitation open to all God is preparing the marriage supper of the Lamb for: the Bride, the purified Church. Some salient lessons can be derived from the parable: one, God has a beautiful plan for all and will make personal and timeless effort to bring it to pass. Two, God “…is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Three, the servants of the King must always be ready to do His bidding. Four, God’s invitation must be swiftly responded to; otherwise, we risk the danger of missing out a place in the Kingdom. Five, sinners and saints alike must be careful not to make light of divine truths and privileges. Six, despisers of God’s invitation risk His punishment. Seven, refusal of the free and full salvation will always bring incalculable loss and ruin. God’s invitation is now open to all (Isaiah 55:1-7). His universal call to man is the call to salvation through Jesus Christ.

God’s desire is to gather all men, both the good (those that feel they are morally alright) and the bad (those who think they have gone too far in sin and evil). As God’s servants, Christians must preach the gospel message of hope, love and life, not condemnation to all. We must assure them that all things are ready. Jesus Christ has paid the ultimate price for all to receive pardon and cleansing for free In the parable, the king who usually provides befitting wedding garments for guests was shocked when he discovered a man without the garment. He immediately ordered his expulsion. Today, only the garment of righteousness would qualify us to make it to heaven and participate in the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7-9; 14:5; 7:14).

Nothing else will do. He has made the provision for our righteousness and He is waiting to cleanse and purify the penitent sinner who would accept His call, because without holiness “no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

SUBTLE COUNSEL TO RIDICULE GOD’S COMMANDMENT (Matthew 22:15-33; Mark 12:13-27; Luke 20:20-40; 1 Peter 3:15; 2 Timothy 2:15; 1 Corinthians 15:1-22)

“Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men” (Matthew 22: 15, 16). The Jewish leaders sent their disciples to entangle Him with a deceptive question. They wanted to know whether it was lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not. Their intention was to set the authorities against Jesus and His ministry. However, by discernment of the Spirit, Jesus saw their hypocrisy. After requesting for a penny on which the image and superscription of Caesar was inscribed to be brought to Him, He made the landmark verdict: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17).

This conclusion made the people to wonder at His wisdom! From the response of Jesus, we learn the following: first, believers should not be ignorant of the devices of the enemy in seeking to draw them away from the fountain of life. Second, they must possess the spirit of discernment in order to recognise the enemy’s deception. Third, all Christians must perform their civic responsibilities in the society and obey constituted authorities. Fourth, they must render willing and acceptable service to God in His vineyard by giving their time, talents and resources for the expansion of His Kingdom. On the same occasion, the Sadducees who did not believe in the resurrection came to Jesus with the question of the veracity of the doctrine of resurrection.

They relayed an account of how seven brothers took turns to marry the same woman, after the death of the previous one, in order to raise children for their deceased brother, in line with the Law of Moses. They ignorantly presented the story in a manner to make light of the resurrection and portray it as meaningless. Thus they asked, “Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? For they all had her” (Matthew 22:28).

Jesus Christ thereafter exposed their error and ignorance of Scriptures on the subject matter. He systematically explained to them, by first clearing the air on the issue of marriage in the life hereafter: “And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? For when they shall rise from the dead they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven. And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err” (Mark 12:24-27). This means that even though Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were not physically alive at that material time, God said, “I am” not “I was”, signifying that these patriarchs had resurrected and are living in their glorified bodies. The systematic approach Jesus adopted in answering the question of the Sadducees is very instructive to Christian leaders. Like Christ, our Master and perfect Example, they must “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).

A thorough study of the Scripture will make them approved workmen “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). To say there is no resurrection is tantamount to saying the gospel is void and without substance. Paul the apostle said, “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain” (1 Corinthians 15:12-14). Our preaching and faith is not and cannot be vain. We believe, according to the Scriptures, that Jesus Christ died, was buried and He resurrected on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). The doctrine of resurrection is therefore, pivotal to the gospel message.

THE SCRIBE’S CONFUSION AND REFERENCE TO THE GREAT COMMANDMENT (Matthew 22:34-46; Mark 12:28-37; Philippians 2:5-11)

“Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” (Matthew 22:35,36). The Scribes were present when Jesus
Christ gave answers to the questions of the Sadducees and Pharisees. One of them acknowledged that Christ had answered them well and further asked, “Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus answered him that the first commandment was to love God with all the soul and strength.

He added that the second commandment was similar to the first: to “love thy neighbour as thyself’. The Scribe, pleased, seconded Jesus’ answers: “Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices” (Mark.12:32,33). Jesus was impressed by the discreet but definite response of the Scribe and said unto him, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God” From the above, we learn that the Scribe had a good knowledge of the Scripture, which won the admiration of Jesus. Believers must ensure they read and study the Bible regularly to have a good knowledge and Understanding of the Holy Writ for proper and correct application.

Despite the Scribe’s knowledge of the Scriptures, he was not in the kingdom of God. Knowledgeableness of the word of God and mere moral uprightness do not qualify anyone to become a member of the kingdom of God. Christ clearly declared, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Therefore, for sinners to be received into God’s kingdom, they must acknowledge their sins, confess and forsake them and believe in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Only this can guarantee them a place in heaven. Jesus’ answer also touched on His divinity. Having provided satisfactory answers to the Sadducees, Pharisees and the Scribe, He asked them what they thought about Him and “whose son is he?” They answered, the son of David. He further probed by asking them why David called Christ Lord, referring to Psalm 110: 1, where David by the inspiration of the Spirit referred to Jesus as his Lord. But they could not give any answer.

Jesus Christ was driving at a point — to open their eyes to His divinity as the Son of God. But they were completely blind to this divine truth. “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Corinthians 4:3,4). Jesus Christ indeed is the Son of God (Matthew 17:1-5; Philippians 2:5-11).

Questions for review:

  1. What lessons can be derived from the parable of the wedding feast?
  2. What is the consequence of rejecting God’s offer of free salvation?
  3. What Christians draw from Christ’s encounter with the Pharisees?
  4. Explain the ‘great commandment’.
  5. What is the place of the doctrine of resurrection in the gospel message?
  6. Give examples of modern-day scribes and Pharisees.
  7. How can a sinner become a member of God’s family?

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