It’s funny how, after 2,000 years, there are things that happened in the days of Jesus that continue today. Of course, the form in which these things happened may have changed somewhat but the essence remains the same. Take Matthew 22:15-48 for example – in today’s vernacular, this would be a ‘Q&A’ session.
I’m quite certain that Jesus would’ve been confronted by many questions during His ministry. I assume the bulk of these would actually be requests – “Do this for me”, “heal me”, “Help!”, “provide for me”, “let me sit at your right hand”, etc. The requests would’ve been endless.
However, this passage of Scripture isn’t your typical application for assistance. Instead, it’s a series of questions meant to test Jesus. The intent in all likelihood was malicious and meant to catch Him in His words but there are also clearly issues of controversy and a genuine test of Jesus’ substance.
Consider also that these questions recorded in Scripture had certain categorical lessons for us as well. Here’s a quick take:
1. Paying Taxes to Caesar
Seems like a pretty straightforward question as to whether we should pay our taxes. But look a little deeper, and there’s much more to it. It’s a question of our participation and responsibility in the secular settings that we live in.
On one hand, we’re citizens of God’s Kingdom and yet, on the other, we’ve a natural citizenship. How do we juggle that? Where do our loyalties lie? This is a question of what to do where the secular and spiritual intersect and this remains a question that’s highly relevant for us today.
The Lord’s answer to His audience surprised them. It presented an angle and perspective that they had not considered before. God attributed the currency system of the Romans as belonging to Caesar, and our responsibility to adhere to it.
For a psyche that saw an invisible theocracy, the recognition of an earthly authority was a new visual for the Jewish people. Paul solidified this in Romans 13:1, likewise Peter in 1 Peter 2:13. Our faith requires our participation in secular society rather than our withdrawal from it.
2. The Resurrection
The second question was a classic one about the afterlife. What happens to us after we breathe our last? In the context of who asked the question, it was also a theological one.
The Sadducees had misunderstood the Scriptures and the nature of God. The answer to the age-old question of the afterlife has surely been answered. There’s a resurrection. However, the nature of life post-resurrection is quite different from the present.
The answers that we seek can be found in Scripture. At the same time, we need to understand Scripture in the nature of our God – who He is and His great power.
3. The Greatest Commandment
The final question concerned the priorities of life. Here’s the thing. The lawyer who raised the question asked amiss. He asked for the greatest commandment. Jesus duly answered him but did not stop there.
Instead, He pointed out that the commandments didn’t stand on ONE leg, but TWO. It has to be both together – loving God and loving people. Here’s where spiritual folks tend to get it wrong.
To focus on God without focusing on people is to ask amiss. Remove the second leg of loving people, and the Gospel will become a completely different one. The whole law and commandment falls apart. The Scriptures collapse.
What amazes me is that, when we raise a question, Jesus doesn’t just answer the content of our questions, but answers the issues from which those questions spring.
Our questions reflect our internal biases, fears, pride, contentions, and much more. Jesus – the ultimate Answer – not only provides a mental and intellectual answer; He reaches into our hearts to answer the needs that reside within.
Let me encourage us to pose some questions to Jesus and hear what He’d answer.