Today: Psalms 18:16-24; Matthew 22:15-46; Job 30, 31, & 32
“He rescued me, because he delighted in me.” Psalm 18:19
I can really relate to this song written by David. God rescued me too. My “strong enemy” was depression and I struggled with it for many years. I often felt like I was in a deep dark pit, drowning in “many waters.” My depression was an oppressive demon “who hated me” and seemed “too mighty for me.” On “the day of my disaster” as I lay dying after swallowing a handful of sleeping pills, four angels appeared to me and compelled me to call for help.
I did die; my spirit left my body that night. But because I had called 911 right before I died, medics were able to bring me back to life in the hospital. If angels hadn’t awakened me and urged me to call for help, I wouldn’t be here today. I wouldn’t have experienced the miraculous healing God had in store for me. I wouldn’t have met my wonderful husband. I wouldn’t have experienced all the amazing things I have in the 23 years since that night.
God “rescued me, because he delighted in me.” He saw beneath my brokenness and he loved me. “He also brought me out into an open place” of healing and wholeness. I am no longer lost in that deep dark pit. Thank you, Jesus.
Render Unto Caesar
Those conniving Pharisees were so darned annoying! They were the PC Police of their time, twisting words around to fit their program, canceling everything that didn’t fit the narrative. They continuously attempt to trick Jesus into committing some offense they can use against him. But he defeats them every time, using their own words and beliefs to refute them.
Just listen to their dripping sarcasm as they begin their verbal trap in verse 16, “Teacher, we know that you are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and do not care what anyone thinks; for you are not partial to anyone.” They butter him up first, thinking that tickling his ears might soften his guard. But of course, Jesus can see right through their obvious ploy.
Then they drop the bomb. “Tell us then, what do you think? Is is permissible to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?” (v.17) How they cackled at their own ingenuity. They had devised the perfect trap. The people hated the exorbitant Roman taxes. If Jesus said yes, he would alienate all of his jewish followers. But an answer of no was treason against the Roman authorities, punishable by death.
Look at Jesus’ brilliant response. He asks them to show him a coin, then asks whose image and inscription is on the coin. It is Caesar’s, they reply. “Then pay to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s,” he tells them. (v.21) Jesus’ simple answer deftly sidesteps their trap and satisfies all parties. The “things that are God’s” are our souls, stuff of the spirit. Jesus never came to overthrow worldly governments. He came to dethrone the demonic forces holding the world hostage. He came to free us from spiritual bondage.
The Seven Brothers
Next the Sadducees have a go at him. They whip up a ridiculous story about a woman who marries seven brothers. As each brother dies, she marries the next brother in line as was the Jewish custom. “In the resurrection,” they ask him, “whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her in marriage.” (v.28) Now the Sadducees did not believe in an afterlife. Their unlikely scenario may have been an argument they often used, thinking it exposed a hole in the resurrection theory.
But Jesus was ten steps ahead of them, as usual. “You are mistaken,” he says, “since you do not understand the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” (v.29-30) Isn’t that marvelous?! We are going to be like angels in heaven! Oh JOY JOY!!!!
Then Jesus delivers the knockout punch and quotes from Exodus 3:6, part of their own approved Biblical texts, when God tells Moses, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” I am an English geek who used to diagram sentences for fun, so I just love Jesus’ attention to grammar here. Since God says, “I AM” (present tense), it shows that he is STILL the God of their forefathers. That means that Abe, Isaac and Jake are STILL ALIVE!
The Greatest Commandment
Then the Pharisees and Sadducees gang up on Jesus and send in one of their shifty lawyers to ask him which is the greatest commandment in the law. He answers, to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. And the second is like it, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” And he wraps it up with, “Upon these two commandments hang the whole law.” (v.37-40) See, they thought they could accuse him of discounting some of their laws if he emphasized only one. But his answer clearly covers the entire law. Foiled again! That sneaky Jesus!!
Son of David
Jesus then turns the tables on the trolls and asks THEM a question. “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?”
“The son of David,” they answer.
“Then how does David in the Spirit call him ‘Lord?'” (v.43) and he quotes one of David’s Psalms. Christ cannot be merely the SON of David, if David calls him “Lord.” Christ is the son of GOD!
Jesus uses their own approved texts to beat them at their game. “No one was able to offer him a word in answer, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask him any more questions.” (v.46) I love it! You know you’ve won the debate when your opponent runs out of arguments, when your troll pompously proclaims that he sees no reason to waste his time with this conversation any longer. SCORE! Jesus: FOUR! Pharisees: ZERO!
We learn a lot about Job’s life in chapter 30 when he delivers his defense. He has been a good man, faithful to his wife, generous to his servants and people in need. He has taken in orphans and raised them as his own children. He has assisted widows and provided shelter for travelers. He has not been greedy with his riches or worshiped money.
His three friends have no answer. They cannot refute his arguments. He has defeated his trolls… all but one. Enter the feisty young whippersnapper, Elihu. Elihu is offended. He’s mad that Job appears to have won the argument. He’s mad that the other three have given up.
Elihu: Alright, Beemers! I gave you your chance, but you’re so stupid. Listen to ME! Job is WRONG. Everything he says has been obviously debunked!
We’ll wait breathlessly for the rest of Elihu’s brilliant argument in the next chapter 😉