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|This is the New King James text of the passages.|
Matthew 22:41-23:39; Mark 12:35-44 Listen
Luke 20:41-21:4; John 12:20-43
In this passage, we see the following in Jesus' ministry:
Now it's Jesus' turn to ask a hard question (Matthew 22:41-46; Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44)
|41 ¶ While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,
42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” ¶ They said to Him, “The Son of David.”
43 ¶ He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying:
44 “The LORD SAID TO MY LORD,
‘Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool’ ”?
45 If David then calls Him “Lord,’ how is He his Son?”
46 And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore.
|35 ¶ Then Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David?
36 For David himself said by the Holy Spirit:
“The LORD said to my Lord,
‘Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” ’
37 Therefore David himself calls Him “Lord’; how is He then his Son?” ¶ And the common people heard Him gladly.
|41 ¶ And He said to them, “How can they say that the Christ is the Son of David?
42 Now David himself said in the Book of Psalms:
“The LORD said to my Lord,
‘Sit at My right hand,
43 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” ’
44 Therefore David calls Him ‘Lord’; how is He then his Son?”
This confrontation between the Jewish leadership and Jesus began in Matthew 22:15, Mark 12:13-17 and Luke 20:20-26 (see notes) when they sought to verbally trap Jesus in front of his disciples. In order to understand this conversation between Jesus and the Pharisees, it is important to know that "Christ" is the Greek word for "Messiah." While the Pharisees are still gathered, Jesus fires a question at them unlike any they had probably ever considered. They were well aware of the anticipated Messiah's ancestry based upon Old Testament scripture ( II Samuel 7:13-14, see note, Isaiah 11:1,10, see notes and Jeremiah 23:5, see notes). Many Jewish scholars (but not all) in Jesus' day regarded Psalm 110 to be Messianic; this question is for them. So, how do you explain the words of King David in Psalms 110:1 (see notes)? "The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool." Jesus asks in verse Matthew 22:45, "If David then calls Him “Lord,’ how is He his Son?" This sums up the scriptural dilemma faced by those Pharisees. How could the Messiah be the descendant of King David and be his "Lord" at the same time? The answer: It's a supernatural act of God fulfilled in Jesus himself. And that put a stop to the questions.
Jesus issues very harsh words to the Scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23:1-39; Mark 12:38-40; Luke 20:45-47)
|1 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples,
2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.
3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.
4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
5 But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments.
6 They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues,
7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, “Rabbi, Rabbi.’
8 But you, do not be called “Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren.
9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.
10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.
11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.
12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
13 ¶ “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.
14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
15 ¶ “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
16 ¶ “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.’
17 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold?
18 And, “Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.’
19 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift?
20 Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it.
21 He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it.
22 And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it.
23 ¶ “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.
24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
25 ¶ “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.
26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
27 ¶ “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.
28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
29 ¶ “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous,
30 and say, “If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’
31 ¶ “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.
32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt.
33 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?
34 Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city,
35 that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.
36 Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
37 ¶ “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
38 See! Your house is left to you desolate;
39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ ”
|38 ¶ Then He said to them in His teaching, “Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces,
39 the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts,
40 who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.”
|45 ¶ Then, in the hearing of all the people, He said to His disciples,
46 “Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts,
47 who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.”
Jesus really unleashes on the Scribes and Pharisees on this occasion - perhaps his biggest criticism of their hypocrisy ever. Mark and Luke just give an overview of this verbal assault against these hypocrites, but Matthew devotes 36 verses to it. All three synoptic gospels have the phrase, "will receive greater condemnation." Matthew, however, does a greater coverage of Jesus' words to really drive the point home about these "serpents" (verse 33). In verse 2 he points out that these Jewish leaders have placed themselves on the level with Moses (verses 2-3), but don't observe the very commands they issue. They love the praise they get for appearing righteous. Thus, they apparently wore their phylacteries (verse 5) all the time. These phylacteries were wallets worn on the wrist and around the forehead that contained the Old Testament passages of scripture known as the Shema (see notes on Deuteronomy 6:4-9). These scripture passages (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, see notes, Deuteronomy 11:13-21, see notes, and Numbers 15:37-41, see notes) were (and still are) ceremonially written by a special rabbi tradesman and placed inside these wallets. The Jewish term in the Old Testament and today for these wallets is "tefillin." Today's orthodox Jews just wear them during their prayer times. The whole concept is based upon their understanding of Deuteronomy 6:8, "You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes." The Pharisees apparently liked how "holy" they looked when they wore these phylacteries, so they wore them all the time.
The "borders of their garments" is a significant term in verse 5 as well. This practice arises from Numbers 15:37-41 (see notes). This ancient fashion statement is still the rage. Orthodox Jews are still adamant about observing this law today. The Hebrew word for "fringe" or "border" is "tzitzit," and that's what today's Jews call it. As a matter of fact, this law is particularly significant in light of the two occasions where the people just wanted to touch the "tzitzit" of Jesus' garment in Matthew 9:20 (see notes) and Matthew 14:36 (see notes). This fringe from the garment was considered very sacred; after all, it was decreed by God himself to be worn. Obviously these Pharisees and Scribes had enlarged beyond common practice this "tzitzit" to appear to be more holy than others. I guess they felt that clothes make the man. These Jewish leaders just loved the glory of being regarded as "holy men" in the sight of the everyday Jew.
In Matthew 23:6-12 Jesus addresses their excessive desire for recognition by insisting on being addressed as "rabbi" or "teacher." These were unmerited titles of recognition they arbitrarily bestowed upon one another that were not based upon objective criteria. To them, it was a you-scratch-my-back-and-I'll-scratch-yours type of proposition. I'm certain these Pharisees keyed in on Jesus' words of verse 10, "And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ." And exactly who is this Christ (i.e. Messiah)? Well...Jesus himself, of course. Two different words are used here in this discussion. The word "Rabbi" is a transliteration of the Greek which is a transliteration of the Hebrew/Aramaic word denoting an official title of honor. In the same discussion here, the word "teacher" comes from the Greek word "kathegetes," meaning master, teacher. It kinda reminds me of those I've met in my lifetime who insist on being called "doctor" when people address them.
Then Jesus issues a series of "woes" on them. This word "woe" is a transliteration from the Greek word pronounced nearly the same way and is an expression of intense grief.
Look at the "woes" he pronounces here against the Scribes and Pharisees:
There was nothing good said about these Jewish leaders; even their prayers were corrupt when Jesus says in verse 14, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation." So...what did Jesus really think of these highly-esteemed Jewish leaders. He sums it up in verse 33 when he concludes, "Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?" Jesus issues his condemnation on them in verses 37-39 as he laments over Jerusalem.
Don't think for a moment that these Pharisees were good men simply because their faith seemed to exceed that of the Sadducees. Jesus literally pronounces them as worthy of Hell in this passage. Jesus mentions a couple of murders in the Old Testament - the first one (Abel) and the last one recorded in Chronicles (Zacharias); he references the death of Abel at the hand of Cain (Genesis 4:1-8, see notes) with Zacharias (aka Zechariah) who was slain by Judah's King Joash back in II Kings 12:17-21, II Chronicles 24:20-27 (see notes). In other words, Jesus covers the period of Old Testament when righteous people were slain by wicked people. This is not the first time Jesus made this point. He had done so earlier in Luke 11:47-50 (see notes). And what EXACTLY is the point Jesus is making here. It's introduced in verse 30, "and say, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.'" In other words, Jesus goes on to emphasize in verses 31-38 that these Pharisees are EXACTLY the kind of wicked men that persecuted and killed the prophets of old.
Matthew 23:38 has particular significance when Jesus says, "See! Your house is left to you desolate." Jesus pulls together two prophetic passages of scripture to make his point here. The first is drawn from Jeremiah 22:5 (see notes), "'But if you will not hear these words, I swear by Myself,' says the LORD, 'that this house shall become a desolation.'" In that passage, Jeremiah is prophesying the fall of the "house" of Judah to the Babylonians. That fall was finalized with the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. From that time through Jesus' day, Israel had been subservient to other nations. Since that time, they had been looking for a Messiah, and that leads us to verse 39. Matthew 23:39 has particular significance when Jesus says, "for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!'" That is a quotation from Psalms 118:26 (see notes), "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We have blessed you from the house of the LORD." The "name of the LORD" in that passage is the special name for the God of the Jews, Jehovah (aka Yahweh). After the resurrection of Jesus, the authentication of Jesus as the Messiah will be complete; Jesus is Jehovah.
Incidentally, Jesus again quotes from Jeremiah 22:5 (see notes) and Psalm 118:26 (see notes) in Luke 13:35 (see notes).
The widow's mite (Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4)
41 ¶ Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much.
|1 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury,
2 and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites.
3 So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all;
4 for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”
Jesus commends the widow who gave all as opposed to the rich who gave a portion. Her contribution was 2 mites defined here as being equivalent to a "farthing" (KJV) or a "quadrans" (NKJV). In Roman coinage, we are told that 64 farthings are equivalent to a Roman denarion. We see in Matthew 20:2 (see notes) that laborers were paid one denarion per day to work in the vineyard. Therefore, you can see that 2 mites was a mighty small (pun intended) offering in the context of usefulness. However, for the widow, Jesus says it was HUGE!
Who invited these Greeks to the passover? (John 12:20-22)
|20 ¶ Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast.
21 Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
22 ¶ Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus.
It would be easy to pass over these verses with little notice, but my impression is that this little verbal exchange sets the stage for Jesus' discourse in verses 23-50. Understand the setting: Jesus has just ridden into Jerusalem in royal style fulfilling Old Testament Messianic prophecy as he went (see notes on the Triumphal Entry - Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19). The common people in Jerusalem have embraced Jesus as the Messiah; they're ready for him to begin ruling. Since the Messianic rule prophesied by the prophets of the Old Testament is a world-wide rule, naturally these Greeks are interested in knowing where exactly they fit into the program. The passage doesn't suggest that they're Jewish proselytes, so, it would appear that they've come to meet with the Messiah to get some details on this Messianic rule.
Jesus sets the record straight on what's about to happen (John 12:23-43)
|23 ¶ But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.
24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.
25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.
27 ¶ “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.
28 Father, glorify Your name.” ¶ Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”
29 ¶ Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.”
30 ¶ Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake.
31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.
32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”
33 This He said, signifying by what death He would die.
34 ¶ The people answered Him, “We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?”
35 ¶ Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going.
36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them.
37 ¶ But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him,
38 that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke:
“Lord, who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?”
39 ¶ Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again:
40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts,
Lest they should see with their eyes,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.”
41 These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.
42 ¶ Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue;
43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
If context means anything here, and I think it certainly does, Jesus is responding to the request of these Gentiles to meet with him. Jesus sets the record straight in verses 23-28 when he proclaims that he has not come to reign at this point in time, but to die. Reigning comes later. These words regarding his imminent crucifixion are confirmed by a voice from Heaven validating what Jesus has just spoken - a voice which sounded like thunder to some and perceived by others to be an angel speaking to Jesus.
After the voice from Heaven, Jesus goes on to even greater specifics about his purpose here. He again prophesies his death on the cross in verses 31-33. Notice Jesus' reference to Satan in verse 31 when he says, "now the ruler of this world will be cast out." Literally, the death of Jesus and subsequent resurrection will be a tremendous setback to Satan as he attempts to thwart God's plan of redemption. It is interesting that the Jews had sought to stone him on several occasions, but here he prophesies his death on the cross in verses 32-33. The people understood that this was a prophecy of his death as well when they replied to Jesus in verse 34, "We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, 'The Son of Man must be lifted up?' Who is this Son of Man?"
This is a great turning point for the people. The man they had just welcomed into Jerusalem as royalty is now proclaiming that he has come to Jerusalem to die. What's the deal here? It's time to invoke the suffering prophecy of Isaiah 53 (see notes), and Isaiah 53:1 is quoted here in verse 38. The remainder of Isaiah 53 prophesies the suffering of the Messiah prior to his rule over the earth. However, the people who have welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem were hearsay theologians. Most of them only knew what they had been told by the well-studied in the synagogues. What about the well-studied people? In verses 39-41, John alludes to another of Isaiah's prophecies, Isaiah 6:9-13 (see notes). Isaiah's audience had hearts that were hardened by sin, and so did this audience of Jesus. Verse 42 is very telling regarding these people, "Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue."
So, the stage is set for the crucifixion. The Jewish leaders apparently understood the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy in the necessary crucifixion of the Messiah, but their own selfish interests kept them from believing on Jesus. The common people here did not seem to have information regarding the course of the Messiah (that he must suffer first).
This session continues (see notes on John 12:44-50), and Jesus is very clear in verse 48 when he says, "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day."