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Christianity today faces all types of attacks from antagonistic hypocrites who seek to mock biblical principles.

– attacks on miracles by the scientific community

– attacks on Creationism by the evolutionists

– attacks on the sanctity of life by those advocating for abortion

– attacks on marriage and sexual identity

– attacks on sexual purity

– attacks on the Second Coming

– attacks on God’s program for the nation of Israel in the future

– attacks on the role of parents in educating their children vs the role of the state

– attacks on the rights of believers to pray or to evangelize or to express their convictions

– attacks …

There are no end to the attacks . . . and from a natural perspective in our country and in our culture it seems like the antagonists are continually gaining ground. Christianity is very much on the defensive. But ultimately there is no way that


[Two-part message]

Context: the questioning of the authority of Jesus in day 3 of Passion Week


A. (:13) The Trappers – Odd Alliance of Antagonistic Hypocrites

1. Their Identity – Who They Are

“And they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him,”

Sproul: an apostle was not simply a messenger, but a messenger empowered with the authority to speak for the one who sent him. . . Thus, this group of Pharisees and Herodians came with the authority of the Sanhedrin behind them. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Constable: Sanhedrin members took the initiative in sending the “Pharisees” and “Herodians.” They united against Jesus, whom they perceived as a common threat, even though they differed among themselves politically. They asked Jesus about a political issue that divided them. . . Since Judea had become a Roman province in A.D. 6, the Romans had required the Jews to pay a yearly “poll (head) tax” into the emperor’s treasury. The Zealots later refused to pay it, claiming that payment acknowledged Rome’s right to rule over them. The Pharisees paid it but objected strongly to it. The Herodians paid it willingly since they supported Roman rule.

Alan Carr: The Pharisees were the religious conservatives of the day. They were very legalistic in that they tried to keep the very letter of the Law of God perfectly. The very name “Pharisee” means “the separatists”. Still, they were marked by pride and self-righteousness. They were often rebuked by Jesus because their religious activities were merely external in nature. They had no real faith relationship with God. Yet, the Pharisees were very nationalistic in their political views. They hated being under Roman rule and wanted to be free from it.

The Herodians were a political party among the Jews who were supporters of King Herod. They enjoyed the benefits they received because of the Roman occupation. While the Romans controlled their country, the people enjoyed religious freedom, protection and prosperity. King Herod supported the Romans and sought to bring Roman culture to Israel.

Normally, these two groups had nothing to do with one another. They were polar opposites. They hated one another. Yet, they came together for the common goal of destroying Jesus.

MacArthur: They make a very awkward alliance here, and I’ll tell you why. The Pharisees and Herodians were two sects that co-existed in the land of Israel with an uneasy kind of relationship. The Pharisees were the most religious, the Herodians the least religious. The Pharisees were most concerned with the Law of God. The Herodians were most concerned with the Law of Rome. The Pharisees were most devoted to Israel. The Herodians were most devoted to Caesar. The Pharisees were intensely religious. The Herodians were intensely political. Essentially, the Pharisees hated the Herodians, they had sold their soul. They were sycophants to Rome. The Pharisees despised them.

2. Their Motivation

“in order to trap Him in a statement.”

To capture in hunting

What teacher (who is the acknowledged expert in the subject matter) likes to be approached by students with this type of motivation?

Not hard to do with our politicians – don’t even have to ask them trick questions; just wait for them to open their mouth

Parunak: The Sanhedrin could not trip him up in their official capacity, so now they resort to guerrilla warfare.

Sproul: has connotations of violent pursuit. The idea is something like hunting for a man-eating tiger by digging a pit and putting sharp spikes at the bottom so that the tiger will fall in and be impaled.

Not messing around here; serious attack against Jesus

B. (:14-15a) The Trap

1. Hypocritical Flattery Disguises the Trap

“And they came and said to Him,”

Note chiastic structure here: Essential characteristics for a spokesperson for God

a1. Teacher of Truth

“Teacher, we know that You are truthful,”

b1. Impartial – Man of Integrity

“and defer to no one;”

could not be bribed; did not cater to someone because of their position or status

man of principle; of high ethical standards

not a politician who changes course at the tilt of the polls; not a man pleaser;

won’t change the message to try to make it more palatable or acceptable or popular

b2. Impartial – Man of Integrity

“for You are not partial to any,”

a2. Teacher of Truth

“but teach the way of God in truth.”

Does Truth float your boat? Or can you be loose with the truth because you have some type of expedient agenda in mind?

Setting Jesus up so that surely he will be forced to answer their question on their terms

Prov. 26:18-27:2; 29:5 “A man who flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his steps.”

Ps. 12:1-4

Cf. how cults flatter Jesus in how they speak about him

Alan Carr: The real danger with flattery was summed up well by Dale Carnegie. He said, “Flattery is telling the other person precisely what he thinks about himself.” Jesus could have believed everything good they said about Him because it was all true. We would do well to ignore the good things that are said about us. There is a danger that we might just come to believe them. As Adlai Stevenson said, “Flattery is all right so long as you don’t inhale.”)

2. Springing the Trap by Pretending to Respect the Law of God

“Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?”

Alan Carr: The poll tax was a “penny” or “a denarius”, which was a day’s pay for the common worker.

Borgman: A census tax levied starting in 6 A.D.; at that time Judas the Galilean caused a revolt; claimed it was the first step towards slavery and actually was an affront to God’s Kingship; that revolt was still being talked about (Acts 5:37)

Hendriksen: collected by the procurator from every adult male in Judea, and was paid directly into the imperial treasury [since A. D. 6]. Since this coinage bore the image of the emperor, who ascribed divinity to himself and claimed to possess supreme authority not only in political but even in spiritual affairs, and since, in addition to this, it reminded the Jews that they were a subject nation, it is understandable that payment of this tax was very distasteful to many a freedom-loving, devout Jew.

3. Demanding a Simple Answer to a More Complex Issue

“Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?”

Alan Carr: If Jesus said “no”, they could label Him as an insurrectionist and have Him arrested for opposing Roman law. If He said “yes” He would lose face with the common people, who also hated paying the tribute money to Rome.

C. (:15b-17) The Truth Reigns Supreme

1. (:15b-16a) Exposure of Their Antagonistic, Hypocritical Motives

“But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, ‘Why are you testing Me?’”

They must have been uncomfortable when they saw that right from the outset Jesus saw right through them and understood their motives and evil intent

Hendriksen: All the synoptics employ different terms to indicate His reading of their character. Matthew said that he “perceived their wickedness” (22:18) or maliciousness, while Luke noted that He recognized “their craftiness” (20:23), their readiness to stoop to any cunning, deceptive means to attain their end. Their hypocrisy stresses that they sought to conceal their sinister purpose under the pretense of being honest inquirers.

2. (:16b) Simple Object Lesson

“’Bring Me a denarius to look at.’ And they brought one. And He said to them, ‘Whose likeness and inscription is this?’ And they said to Him, ‘Caesar’s.’”

Alan Carr: On the front of the denarius was an engraving of the head of Caesar Tiberius, that was the “image”. In Latin on the front were the words “Tiberius Caesar, divine Augustus, son of Augustus.” On the back, in Latin, were the words “Pontifex Maximus, High Priest of the Roman nation.” Those were the “inscriptions”.

It is no wonder the religious Jews bristled at using these coins. After all, they claimed divinity for Caesar and they claimed that Caesar was the High Priest of the Roman Empire.

Edwards: One cannot consider political and civil duties apart from faith, but only as expressions of the prior and ultimate claims of God. In the saying of v 27 the unmistakable exousia or authority of Jesus again emerges. Caesar and God were ultimate and uncontested authorities in the political and religious climate of Jesus’ day, and yet Jesus presumes to speak for both. That ultimate authority resided with God is clearly implied in Jesus’ use of the word “image” (v. 16 in Greek), which is the same word used in Gen. 1:26 of humanity’s creation in God’s image. If coins bear Caesar’s image, then they belong to Caesar. But humanity, which bears God’s image, belongs to God.

Hendriksen: Jesus wanted the coin to come from the pockets of his opponents, so as to impress upon them the fact that they themselves were using this coinage, were benefiting from its use, and had accordingly accepted the resulting obligations.

3. (:17a) Profound Practical Application

“And Jesus said to them, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,

and to God the things that are God’s.’”

Cranfield (quoted by Constable): Though the obligation to pay to Caesar some of his own coinage in return for the amenities his rule provided is affirmed, the idolatrous claims expressed on the coins are rejected. God’s rights are to be honored. Here Jesus is not saying that there are two quite separate independent spheres, that of Caesar and that of God (for Caesar and all that is his belongs to God); but he is indicating that there are obligations to Caesar which do not infringe the rights of God but are indeed ordained by God.

Alan Carr: Every human being in this world was created in “the image of God”, Gen. 1:26-27. Thus, He owns us and He has the right to demand that we yield ourselves up to His will for our lives. Even if you are not saved, the Lord owns you by right of creation. If you are saved, He owns you by right of creation and by right of redemption, 1 Cor. 6:19-20.

Just as Caesar has the right to demand what is his, God has the right to demand what belongs to Him. Every human has an obligation to give God their worship, their obedience, their praise, their love and their gratitude. We owe Him that for being Who He is and for all that He gives to us. (i.e. life, air, water, food, shelter, family, etc.)

You bear the image of God! That image you bear is a symbol of divine ownership. God has the right to tell you how to live. He has the right to tell you how to believe. He has the right to demand your obedience. He has the right to demand that you receive His Son as your Savior!

According to Rom. 13:4, the state has the “power of the sword”. When we fail to obey the state, there will be consequences, such as imprisonment and death. When we fail to obey the Lord there are also consequences. There is Hell for the unbeliever and chastisement for the believer.

Jesus is telling those men, and us, that we have an obligation to honor the rule of the state, but we have a higher obligation to commit our lives to the Lord and obey Him and His Word. Yielding to the state is our earthly duty. Yielding to the Lord is our eternal duty!

MacArthur: There’s no such thing as a sacral society. There was a sacral society, the theocratic kingdom of Israel where God was the ruler. The theocracy, God is the ruler. There was one sacral society, it has been obliterated by the judgment of God. There will be in the future another sacral society where God will be the King and that will be the reign of Jesus Christ in His Millennial Kingdom on earth. In between there is no such thing as a sacral society. There is a separation between the people of God spiritual, and the civil authorities. Civil authority, civil law is a common grace for the well-being of men, like crops, like water, food, all the common graces. The rain falls on the just and the unjust, that’s the idea of common grace.

Christian has duty to civil government that is ordained by God:

Rom. 13:1-7 “Render therefore to all their due; taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor”

Sproul: Paul wrote these words at a time when the government, the Roman Empire, was corrupt and godless. Obviously, therefore, the moral behavior of the state is to have no bearing on whether Christians pay their taxes. Christians are called to a special level of civil obedience, which includes paying taxes no matter how burdensome or oppressive they may be. Of course, our commitment to civil obedience does not mean we cannot speak out against taxes or anything else the government does, but we do not have the right to refuse to pay.

1 Tim. 2:1-6

1 Pet. 2:13-17

D. (:17b) The Treachery Defeated

“And they were amazed at Him.”

Hiebert: The strong compound verb, found only here in the New Testament, conveys the thought of their grudging admiration, and the imperfect tense denotes the continuation of the feeling. They were justly amazed at His answer. He had not only escaped their trap but had thrown a flood of light on the problem.

Not the outcome that the Sanhedrin expected when they sent this guerrilla warfare team


What type of a responsible citizen am I … even under a wicked government that does not encourage biblical values?

What type of a citizen of the kingdom of God am I? What does God require of me?

Isaac Watts: Love so amazing, so divine; demands my life, my soul, my all.

Ps. 116:12-14 “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me?

I shall lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.

I shall pay my vows to the Lord, Oh may it be in the presence of all His people.”


Section dealing with a series of attacks brought against Jesus by various religious leaders to try to discredit Him before the general public and try to get him in trouble with the religious and political authorities.

These first two attacks are grouped together because the motivation of the attackers is the same and therefore they track along the same outline.

Next week we will see a different approach by a scribe; all taking place on the third day of Passion Week.


Last week looked at an Attack directed against Consistency – How can you balance what God demands in terms of Civil Responsibilities with what God demands in terms of allegiance to Him? — Issue of Taxation

Today – Attacked directed against Absurdity – Using Convoluted, Hypothetical example to try to mock biblical truth — Issue of the Afterlife – specifically: what will marriage look like in the afterlife?

You can have confidence that the Wisdom of God will never be disproved by arguments of consistency or absurdity.

David Thompson: What do other religions say about the afterlife?

– Mormons: say you go to 1 of 3 kingdoms based on approval of Joseph Smith

– Hindus: Reincarnated based on your works

– Muslims, Islam — Die and go to a pleasure palace; if you die a martyr you get 72 virgins

– Indians: you need to be buried with your bow and arrows as you go to your Happy and Holy Hunting Ground

– Egyptians: be buried with things you can take with you into eternity

– Some Greeks: bury with a coin in mouth so you can pay the fee to cross into the land of the afterlife

Religious people just make it up as they go and people believe it; bunch of crazy views

Important to understand what the Scriptures teach about the afterlife.


A. (:18) The Trappers – Sophisticated Movers and Shakers with Theological Blinders

1. Their Identity – Who They Are

“And some Sadducees (who say that there is no resurrection) came to Him,”

urban, wealthy, and educated Jews

Parunak: The Sadducees accept only the five books of Moses as Scripture, and so reject doctrines that are most fully revealed later, such as resurrection. Cf. Paul’s use of this tension in Acts 23:6-9. Strange partners aligned together to try to attack Jesus — Don’t believe in angels or in the afterlife

Alan Carr: The Sadducees controlled all the buying and selling that went on at the Temple. Thus, they were angry with Jesus because He had interrupted their business enterprises when He cleansed the Temple, Mark 11:12-19.

When the Temple was destroyed in AD 70 so the Sadducees disappeared from history.

2. Their Motivation

“and began questioning Him, saying,”

We know that their approach was cynical and hypocritical because they did not even believe in the issue they were interrogating Jesus on – so they were not seeking truth; they did not want to understand God’s mind so that they could live a more righteous life; they had searched for some type of question that would expose Jesus as a teacher of the ridiculous; a teacher of the absurd

B. (:19-23) The Trap

1. (:19) Hypocritical Flattery — Biblical Principle – Pretending to Respect the Law of God

“Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, and leaves behind a wife, and leaves no child, his brother should take the wife, and raise up offspring to his brother.”

Address Jesus with that flattery title of “Teacher” even though they had no respect for His message; they claimed to show great respect for the Pentateuch – but they will be shown by Jesus to be ignorant of the Scriptures

Alan Carr: They begin to tell Jesus a story based on the Old Testament law of levirate marriage. This law was taught in Deut. 25:5-10. This law made provision for families, tribal names and inheritances intact. If a man died, with no living children, his next of kin would marry his widow and raise up a child in the name of the deceased

The whole point of this law was to ensure two things–first, that the family name continued, and second, that the property remained within the family.

For those people who like to claim that we are still under the Law … here is an interesting case study to apply to your life today – see how that flies in our culture

So the Sadducees present their biblical principle and case study that will be the basis for their question – now they expand upon it

2. (:20-22) Using a Convoluted, Hypothetical Example

“There were seven brothers; and the first took a wife, and died, leaving no offspring. And the second one took her, and died, leaving behind no offspring; and the third likewise; and so all seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman died also.”

This poor woman was worn out – not exactly an ideal situation – in fact this goes beyond a worst case situation – completely ridiculous

3. (:23) Springing the Trap by Highlighting the Absurdity of the Situation

“In the resurrection, when they rise again, which one’s wife will she be?

For all seven had her as wife.”

Assuming several important truths here:

– That Jesus believed in and taught of a physical resurrection and the joys of an eternal afterlife

– That people would recognize one another and continue to enjoy relationships with one another in the afterlife

Borgman: Reduction to the point of the absurd – trying to show that a basic belief is untrue because of certain deductions or implications that are taken to the absurd;

Cf. doctrine of Election: why then pray?? Why then witness??

C. (:24-27) The Truth Reigns Supreme

1. (:24) Exposure of Their Deep-Rooted Spiritual Problems

“Jesus said to them, ‘Is this not the reason you are mistaken,

that you do not understand the Scriptures, or the power of God?’”

Jesus does not mince words; not trying to gain their favor; certainly not responding to their flattery with flattery – telling them the cold, hard truth –

You have lost your minds! What are you thinking? You could not be further from the truth …

Sometimes we need to shake people up with such clear denunciations; not beat around the bush

MacArthur: The verb mistaken is planao from which we get the word planet, wandering bodies. The verb means to cause to wander, to lead astray. You are leading yourselves astray by your biblical ignorance. You’re mentally wandering. You’ve been cut loose from reality. You’ve been cut loose from reason. You’ve been cut loose from truth. That is why false teachers in Jude 13 are called wandering stars.

Jesus points to Two Fundamental Problems that prevent them from getting it right:

a. Knowledge Problem – lack of spiritual insight

Requires sovereign enlightenment from the Holy Spirit to understand spiritual truth; not a function of human wisdom or man’s wisdom; in fact that type of sophistication leads only to pride which is a major hindrance to understanding the Scriptures; “God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble”

b. Moral Problem – disconnected from the reality of the Power of God

Didn’t God create the Heavens and the earth ex nihilo? How difficult could anything else be for God? What about creating man out of the dust of the earth and woman from Adam’s rib; How about the universal flood or the parting of the Red Sea; What about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah or the bringing down of the walls of Jericho? Is anything too difficult for the power of God?

Parunak: Beware of “foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law,” Titus 3:9. The Pharisees’ question [earlier paragraph] was at least a practical one, wrong only in its motive. This one is wrong in both its motive and its substance.

2. (:25) Correction of Inaccurate Theology Regarding the Glorified State

“For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”

Resurrection life is not the same as the present life as we know it now

Upon first blush, this explanation on the part of Jesus can seem a little deflating – especially for married couples – won’t their relationship be even better in the afterlife? Doesn’t God have something better in mind for us than what we presently experience?

Alistair Begg: For those of us who are enjoying the companionship of married life and the joys of every aspect, the concept of a heaven that removes us from this realm is not something that to us is immediately attractive; Precious relationships in this life will not be eradicated but enhanced;

– King David looked forward to being reunited with his dead son

– Paul instructed us not to grieve like unbelievers because our parting is not permanent

Constable: Marriage as we know it will not exist when we have immortal bodies, and deathless existence will not require propagation of the human race. The Sadducees denied the existence of the angelic race (Acts 23:8), which belief Jesus also corrected. They considered their views enlightened, but Jesus said they needed enlightening. Jesus did not say that when people die they become angels, which they do not, nor that we will be “like angels” in every respect, which we will not.

Alan Carr: While the relationship of marriage is a wonderful and divinely ordained institution, it is an absolutely earthly institution. Marriage was designed for companionship, Gen. 2:18, continuation of the species, Gen. 1:22, and for the fulfillment of legitimate sexual needs, 1 Cor. 7:2. When we get to Heaven, we will be like the angels, only in the sense that we will be spiritual beings that will have no need for the physical necessities of this earthly life. In heaven, like the angels, we will be deathless, sinless, sexless, glorified and eternal. But, unlike the angels, we will be like Jesus, 1 John 3:2. Life will be different when we get there.

There will be no need for reproduction and childbirth because there will be no death. There will be no exclusive physical relationships like there are here, because in Heaven everyone will be perfectly and intimately related to everyone else, including God.

When we study what the bible teaches about our Resurrection body, we should be excited in anticipation of the afterlife:

1 Cor. 15:35-49 [sermon notes]

3. (:26-27a) Zinger Directed to Their More Fundamental Main Issue

“But regarding the fact that the dead rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God spoke to 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 of the living;”

Important that Jesus used a reference from the Pentateuch (and affirmed authorship of Moses)

Focused in on their major error – they did not believe in the resurrection and the after life

Jesus makes his argument on the tense of a verb – instructive on how we are to use the inspired word of God

If He is the God of the living, then where is the absurdity of the doctrine of the resurrection?

We don’t have to worry about silly arguments like how can God put back together a body that was blown up in an explosion or cremated and the ashes scattered ….

Bob Utley: There are several texts in the OT that affirm this truth (cf. Job 14:14-15; 19:25-27; Ps. 23:6; Isa. 25:6-9; 26:14-19; Dan. 12:2). Yet the afterlife in the OT is a veiled reality. The progressive revelation of the NT clarifies and defines the reality, but still in veiled, metaphorical language. Heaven is a sure promise and truth, but its exact nature is a mystery.

Constable: In concluding that the Old Testament did not teach the resurrection, the Sadducees had overlooked an important passage in the Torah (Pentateuch). They regarded the Torah as particularly authoritative. Exodus 3:6 taught continued human existence after death. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were still alive in Moses’ day. The Sadducees not only rejected the resurrection, but also the afterlife in heaven or hell. The Jews had a more holistic view of man than most modern westerners do (cf. Gen. 2:7). The Sadducees concluded that if the material part of man died, the whole person ceased to exist. Jesus, who held the same unified view of man, argued that if the immaterial part of man lived on, the whole person would live on.

D. (:27b) The Treachery Defeated

“you are greatly mistaken.”

You are poor theologians


– Know the Scriptures intimately

– Have faith in the Power of God