Amazed, But Changed?

16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”

18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away. Matthew 22:16-22

The teachers of the law tried to “razzle-dazzle” Jesus with pious sounding talk. Once again, he peered right through them. They weren’t interested in the truth at all. They were only interested in trapping him in something he would say. Then they would pat themselves on the back for doing what they thought was right.

The Bible tells us that the leaders went away amazed by what Jesus taught them. They went away amazed but where they changed as a result? We can’t know for sure about all of them but it’s safe to say that most were opposed to Him right up through His crucifixion. We don’t know about the months and years after His ascension.

But they went away amazed.

We do that too, don’t we? We hear a sound Biblical teaching and walk away “pumped up” or encouraged or sometimes even troubled. Does it spur us on to action? Does it have to?

Not really. As I mentioned a few days ago, the Bible and Bible teacherscorrect, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). That instruction goes deep within and feeds our spirits.

The teachers of the law, of course, did not have the Spirit of God within them but when the living Word of God is speaking to you as a non-believer, you will have to take time to process it.

So, it’s safe to say that what Jesus told them remained with them for a long time.

The Bible is a powerful book, something that cannot be overemphasized. It has a transforming effect on the believer and non-believer. We just have to trust that when we’ve done our job of spreading seeds, that the Holy Spirit will germinate and grow them.

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There They Go Again…

15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. Matthew 22:15

There they go again!

Perhaps these were different Pharisees from the seven or eight previous times they sought to trap Him.

Perhaps they didn’t know any better.

Perhaps they were just not that smart.

Back in the day was a commercial with the tagline: “It’s not nice to fool ‘mother nature!'”

Jesus saw right through these leaders. I suspect there was a different spirit about them, something that made them stand apart from those who were true truth seekers.

If it wasn’t nice to fool mother nature, then it certainly won’t be pretty to try to fool the Son of God!

He was ruthless with the dishonest and arrogant leaders, but tender and compassionate with every day folks who needed His help.

Today, leaders who need His help need only to ask. He will be compassionate towards them if they do that.

I believe the Church is being shaken up today, as is much of the political landscape.

Covid and the constant hype surrounding it has done a number on the economy, education system, commerce, and religious life.

People are looking for answers. They continue to search for the truth, not regarding the virus necessarily but the truth about life in general.

This is a time we all should do some soul-searching about what He wants us to do.

Draw close to God and He will draw close to you.

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The Most Important Question You’ll Ever Answer

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’

5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:1-14

The best, most concise treatment of this parable was from stackexchange

The symbolism in Matthew 22:11-13 of the one who was not clothed with the proper wedding garments is of one who is not clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

We have to be in Christ (Romans 8:1l 12:5), covered by His blood (Romans 4:7; 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; 2:13; Hebrews 13:12).

Galatians 3:27, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (KJV)

The man in the parable of the wedding feast was not clothed in Christ. It means that those who are not clothed with Christ are not in Christ, and will be judged unworthy just as the man was in the parable of the wedding feast, and will be cast out into eternal punishment, and experience the second death.

Probably the most important question I’ll ever ask is this, “Have you been clothed in Christ?” or better stated in John 3: “Have you been born again?”

Have you ever had a time in your life that you realized your utter sinfulness and needed a Savior?

We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

Unfortunately, the end result is not pretty.

For the wages of sin is death… (Romans 6:23a)

But there’s good news.

“…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23b)

Our response:

“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)

These are eternal questions that deserve serious consideration.

If you’re reading this and are curious about these words, write me. Ask me questions.

It’s the most important question you’ll ever answer.

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The Powerful Word of God: A Scalpel or a Hacksaw

33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.

35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.

38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”

41 “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

“‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet. Matthew 21:33-45

Jesus was in fact talking about the religious leaders persecuting the Son of God. They knew the truth but refused to believe it. They were so caught up in their traditions and self-promotions, that they endangered themselves and many others.

The Word of God is powerful, I don’t need to tell you that. It slices through arguments and long-held beliefs for both believers and non-believers.

Jesus quoted the Scriptures that cut those leaders to shreds.

How is the Word of God working in your life today?

Is it troubling you?

Are you finding it hard to apply?

Are you memorizing meaningful passages (meaningful to you)?

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If They Only Knew….

23 Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”

24 Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?”

They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”

27 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”

Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things. Matthew 21:23-27

Give the religious leaders credit for their tenacity!

If one of them had actually figured out that He was the Son of God – the living Word of God – he would have realized that the Second Person of the Trinity knew all of their schemes and tricks.

He knew them better than they knew themselves.

He knew how to counter them.

He knew how to address them.

And yet they questioned His authority.

If they only knew!

As a friend once said, “He had the power to call down 10,000 angels – minimum – to show them His authority.”

There is still power in the Name of Jesus.

It’s something we have to learn to embrace over and over again in our lives.

If we only knew!

Continue Reading If They Only Knew….