Trapping Jesus

Posted: June 16, 2014 in Mark

Mark 12:13-27, “Trapping Jesus”

As a kid, I used to love the Looney Tunes cartoons – specifically the one featuring Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner.  The coyote would set trap after trap for the Roadrunner, all of which would fail, and the poor guy generally had to learn a pretty painful lesson about gravity.  The Roadrunner was too fast and far more intelligent than his adversary gave him credit & he simply couldn’t be caught.

Although Jesus is most certainly NOT the Roadrunner, the Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees all remind me somewhat of the Coyote.  They repeatedly try to trap Jesus, but they always underestimate Him.  They thought themselves more intelligent than Jesus, and more wise/shrewd than Him – they believed that they could back Him into an intellectual/theological corner and force Jesus to discredit Himself in the eyes of the people, but it couldn’t be done.  Jesus cannot be trapped because Jesus is God.  How exactly does someone outwit the God who knows all things, and from Whom wisdom itself proceeds?  It can’t be done!  Jesus’ adversaries might not learn a painful lesson of gravity, but they would certainly learn a humbling lesson about God.

Remember our context – this is the week of Jesus’ crucifixion, though things have not yet come to that point.  He had arrived on Sunday to great praise from the people, though they were surely left a bit confused as Jesus came into the city appearing to be their king (exactly according to prophecy), but then He just inspected the temple and left quietly with His disciples.  The next day, Jesus returned to the city, proceeded straight to the temple and cleansed it of all of the money changers and other crooks that had set up shop in outer court.  The priests had allowed all kinds of corruption to come into the house of God, and the Son of God was not going to stand for it.  Jesus exposed it (and the priests) for what it was, and then He left again.  On the third day (Tuesday), Jesus returns to Jerusalem and to the temple again, when He is promptly confronted by the priests, scribes, and elders (which included Pharisees), and His authority is questioned.  The Jewish leaders had hoped to paint Jesus as a vigilante – a rogue teacher that couldn’t be trusted.  Instead, Jesus showed that His authority was self-evident, just as was the authority of John the Baptist.  The priests and others were seen as political cowards once again.

It was at that time that Jesus taught the parable of the wicked vinedressers – a specific and obvious parable about the failure and rebellion of the Jewish leadership (the priests, scribes, elders, and Pharisees).  They were supposed to be stewards of the rebuilt nation of God, but they consistently rejected the messengers of God (the prophets), and they were in the process of rejecting the Son of God (the Messiah).  Jesus taught how they would disgracefully treat the Son of God, kill Him, and try to take His place.  God would judge them for their sin, and in His sovereign plan would even use their sin to bring about the greater glory of His Son & the salvation of all those who put their trust in Him.

It’s no wonder why the Jewish leadership was so upset with Jesus by this point.  For some of them (the Pharisees), Jesus had been a thorn in their side for years.  For all of them, they had now three confrontations with Him in three days, and they had been on the losing end every time.  They were in danger of losing the political will of the people, and they needed to find some way to discredit Jesus & find it quick.  Seemingly they went back to huddle up, plot, plan, and conspire, and then came out against Jesus again.  This time they didn’t come asserting their own authority; they came with winsome words supposedly looking for the renowned Teacher to teach them something from the Scriptures.  They came with smiles, but they came with a strategy.  They were testing Jesus, hoping to trap Him by His own words and discredit Him as a fraud in the eyes of the people.

Jesus of course welcomes anyone to come to Him, but we need to remember to Whom we’re coming.  We are invited to come in humility and faith, but when we come with a different agenda, we’re likely going to find ourselves in a similar position as the Jewish leadership here.  Jesus can’t be trapped. Jesus should not be tested. Jesus should be trusted

Mark 12:13–27
13 Then they sent to Him some of the Pharisees and the Herodians, to catch Him in His words.

  1. The combination of Pharisees and Herodians was unusual. "Politics makes strange bedfellows." Normally these two groups would not associate with one another, but they found common cause against Jesus (just as they had many months earlier – Mk 3:6). The Herodians disliked Jesus because the crowds had been using Messianic language with Him, expecting Him to stir an uprising as the rightful king of Israel. Obviously those who supported the Roman puppet government of Herod didn’t appreciate any competition for the throne. The Pharisees disliked Jesus because He taught the people rightly, not only teaching the truth of God through the Scriptures, but showing the heart of God through the Scriptures. Jesus had already exposed the Pharisees as hypocrites (Mk 7:6) and they had consistently looked for a way to undermine His ministry. There was no love lost between the Pharisees and Herodians regarding each other, but they each certainly had a problem with Jesus.
  2. Notice that there are no illusions here about the Pharisees and Herodians bringing an honest question. There are all sorts of theological and political issues that people have a tough time with, and those things can be brought to the Lord. As we study the Scriptures, and seek the Lord in prayer, we can trust God to guide us into the right decision. Yet in what follows, that’s not what the Pharisees and Herodians were trying to do. They weren’t trying to solve an actual issue that they had struggled with; they were trying "to catch [Jesus] in His words." This was dishonest from the get-go, and everyone knew it.

14 When they had come, they said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and care about no one; for You do not regard the person of men, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?” …  

  1. This was flattery, plain and simple. What they said is no doubt the truth, but they didn’t believe it in the slightest. Jesus is true, but their hearts were false. They come to Him completely insincere and start laying it on thick. With any other man, they may have been able to stroke His ego a bit, and catch Him off-guard with a question of entrapment, but not with Jesus. Jesus is the omniscient God; it is impossible to catch Him by surprise (by definition).
  2. They may not have believed a word they said, but they did end up speaking the truth. With a sincere heart, we can affirm every single thing the Pharisees and Herodians said about Jesus here.
    1. Jesus is true.  Another translation says that Jesus is “truthful,” and that is really more of the idea here.  He IS the truth (and the way & the life – Jn 14:6), but the point here is that Jesus never lies.  It is impossible for God to lie (Titus 1:2), and because Jesus is God, Jesus cannot lie either.
      1. Obviously the Pharisees were trying to use this against Jesus, to put Him into a no-win situation with the people.  He would be forced to tell the truth, even to His own detriment (which wouldn’t happen).  But what a wonderful assurance it is to know that Jesus speaks the truth!  There is no promise in the Bible that we cannot trust.  Every single word spoken by Jesus will be fulfilled.  When He promises that He will be with us always, then He will.  When He promises that the Holy Spirit will give us power, then the Spirit will.  When He promises that we will be with Him in heaven, then we will.  Jesus never lies!
    2. Jesus is impartial.  When the Pharisees said that Jesus did not “care” for anyone, they weren’t accusing Him of being cold-hearted; they were complimenting Him by saying He was fair & impartial.  The Pharisees and other Jewish leadership were plainly fearful of men, hesitant to say anything that might endanger their political power, but Jesus cared nothing for that stuff.  He would say the same thing to a beggar on the street as He would to a Roman governor.  God shows no partiality – and again, Jesus is God.
      1. How wonderful it is to worship the impartial God!  A theological scholar with several degrees has no more access to the Lord Jesus than does the 5 year old who had just prayed to receive Christ as her Savior.  It doesn’t matter how much power or influence or wealth we may have here on earth; none of that has any sway with the Lord God of the Universe.  We are all equally doomed in our sin, and salvation is equally available to all through the work of Jesus at the cross and resurrection.  We are ALL invited to come to Him freely by His grace.
    3. Jesus teaches the truth.  Not only does God always speak the truth & never speak in lies, but God teaches the truth.  IOW, what Jesus taught from the Scriptures was accurate.  Someone might teach wrongly, but still not teach a lie because he/she believed it to be the truth.  Not so with Jesus.  He taught truthfully, and what He taught WAS (IS) the truth.
      1. This is the concept of infallibility.  We say the Bible is inerrant because it does not contain any errors, contradictions, etc. in the original manuscripts.  We say the Bible is infallible because it does not lead us astray in what those manuscripts teach.  We can trust the word of God!  God is not going to lead us astray by His promises.  What He tells us will always be the truth. 
  3. The actual question the Pharisees and Herodians pose could easily be described as a Catch-22. This is a question to which there was no good answer. [I.e. “When did you stop beating your wife?”] Pay taxes to Caesar, or not? To tell the people to pay the taxes would have pleased the Herodians (and the Romans, who were surely listening), but it would have upset the people. The Jews paid oppressively large taxes to fund the opulent taste of Herod (and others), and the tax was just one more reminder that they were conquered subjects of a foreign Gentile nation. The Jews hated paying the tax, and to have their supposed Messiah teach that the tax was legal might have the effect of causing many of the Jews to fall away from following Jesus. Why follow a Messiah who didn’t intend to overthrow the Romans? What good is the Messiah if He wasn’t going to institute an earthly kingdom? (And of course, Jesus did NOT institute the earthly kingdom…yet. He will, but that will be done in His time according to His plan.)
  4. That was if Jesus said that paying taxes was legal. His options weren’t much better if He declared that the tax was illegal. That answer would have been far more pleasing to the people, but it would have caused Him a great deal of trouble with the Herodians and the Romans. To tell the people not to pay the tax would have been tantamount to treason, and likely would have caused Him to be arrested right then and there. Not to mention that there was no compelling theological reason not to pay. The Pharisees and Herodians asked if it was legal; it was. There was nothing in the law of Moses that made it illegal to pay a foreign tax. Part of what God promised through Moses was that if the people disobeyed God, God would make them subject to foreigners – and paying taxes is all part & parcel with that.
  5. So the issue is this: Jesus could speak the truth and be cast away by the masses, or He could please the people and not only endanger Himself, but He would teach a false doctrine. Either way, He would have His ministry ripped away from Him or be discredited, and the Pharisees would be in pretty good shape. Either way worked for them; they just wanted to see how Jesus would bury Himself.
    1. Jesus isn’t so easily trapped. Look at the rest of vs. 15…

…But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why do you test Me? Bring Me a denarius that I may see it.” 16 So they brought it. And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”

  1. Note that Jesus wasn’t fooled. "But He, knowing their hypocrisy…" Jesus knew exactly what was going on!
  2. In response to the test of the Pharisees and Herodians, Jesus puts on a little test of His own. He has them bring a coin (a denarius = a day laborer’s wage), and He has them to a little bit of inspection. There was an "image and inscription" upon it – that of Caesar. Most likely, this was a coin with the image of Tiberius Caesar Augustus, and the inscription on the coin spoke of Caesar’s divinity (as a part of the cult of emperor worship). It would have been viewed as blasphemous in addition to oppressive – an indirect violation of the 2nd Commandment not to make any graven images. This was the normal currency of the Roman Empire, and it was this currency that needed to be exchanged in the temple in order for people to be able to purchase "approved" sacrifices. (At least, that was the excuse the priests used to make a little profit off of the money changing.)
    1. Interestingly, Jesus didn’t have a coin of His own. He has to have one brought to Him. Despite those who teach that Christians have a right to expect material prosperity, Jesus Himself was not wealthy in the slightest. Most nights, He didn’t have a home of His own in which to rest, nor did He even have the basic funds to hold up an example of a low-wage coin.
  3. What was the reason for the display? Jesus got the people involved in the answer. He could have jumped straight ahead to the response of vs. 17, but He took time to make sure that the people saw the answer for themselves. In doing so, they would come to the same response as Jesus – ensuring that Jesus could not be blamed for the answer that He gave. Already, Jesus is doing an end-run around the Pharisees and the Herodians. They had given Him a simple question with what should have been a yes/no answer. Jesus wasn’t playing by their rules. He didn’t have to…and neither do we.
    1. Often when Christians get involved in discussions with skeptics or atheists, we find ourselves in a defensive position, always having to use the rules of the skeptic. "Don’t use the Bible… Don’t talk about miracles… Don’t use ____…" Why? If we’re having a discussion about the Lord Jesus, why not use every means at our disposal? For instance, the Holy Spirit uses the inspired Scripture in supernatural ways, and He’s able to use it to touch the heart and conscience of people whom we might not ever be able to reach otherwise. Why give up the Bible in a discussion, just because someone arbitrarily set some rules not to use it? Follow the example of our Lord Jesus. We don’t have to be offensive to be on the offense with the gospel. We can use whatever the Lord has given us at the time, and we can do so without apology.

17 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at Him.

  1. It’s no wonder that the people "marveled." This was an amazing answer! It was incredibly wise, and something that neither the Herodians nor Pharisees would be able to fault. The coin had Caesar’s name on it, so they needed to give it to Caesar. The Romans issued the coinage, and the Romans were the civil government (whether or not the Jews liked it). So they needed to pay taxes. At the same time, the Jews were under no obligation to give Caesar worship of any kind because worship is something that belongs solely to God. It didn’t matter what the coin said; it matters where the heart of the worshipper is. If a Jew chose to worship God alone, then the coin was irrelevant. When the Romans demanded that Christians burn a pinch of incense to Caesar in worship, the Christians refused – and they were right to do so. That would have been giving something to Caesar that only belonged to God. But the coinage had nothing to do with that.
  2. How wise was the answer? It was divine wisdom…something that we would expect from the only begotten Son of God. It was the kind of wisdom that caused the people to stop what they were doing and be amazed at the things of God.  Contextually, it wasn’t just the general people & folks listening in that marveled; it was the Pharisees and Herodians who had posed the dilemma.  The wisdom of God is so amazing that it even makes the enemies of God sit up and take notice!
    1. This is also the kind of wisdom that believers in Christ have access to through the Spirit. One of the gifts of the Spirit is a word of wisdom (1 Cor 12:8), when God gives us just the right answer at just the right time. It is an invaluable gift, and one we ought to pray for more often!
  3. Obviously the context here is the failed trap of the Pharisees and the Herodians, but the overarching principle still applies to us today. How do we, as born-again Christians, function within our modern governments. We may be fortunate enough to live in a land of relative freedom (like the United States), or we may live in a nation that is completely oppressive to Biblical Christianity (like North Korea) – or any number of nations in-between. How is a Christian to deal with the government of his/her time? Simple: give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God. No one likes paying taxes, and some might argue against the constitutionality of certain taxes. But if the legal authorities of the nation say we need to pay the tax, then we need to pay it. We might not like any number of restrictions that a nation puts upon us – and we have every right as national citizens to legally protest those restrictions, and politically work to have those restrictions changed. But at the end of the day, we have to submit ourselves to the governing authority. If that means we pay a fine, then we pay the fine. If that means we disagree, then we disagree. But we still submit to the government, because that is the order that God has set up for civilization (Rom 13). At the same time, once the government crosses a line to demand something from us that belongs only to God, then we must make the choice to obey God rather than men. We cannot worship anyone but God. We cannot sin against God to satisfy the whims of government. The choice we make to obey God might mean that we pay fines (or even go to jail), but ultimately our allegiance is owed not to the flag of the United States of America, but to The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of Heaven and Earth. We have a dual citizenship: with our country, and with the kingdom of heaven – and the kingdom of heaven always has priority.

That was just the first test. There were more to come. The Pharisees and Herodians had their turn – they were the theological conservatives and political class. Jesus would be tested again – this time from the theological liberals & priestly class. See vs. 18…

18 Then some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him; and they asked Him, saying:

  1. Mark gives us crucial background in vs. 18. We’ve seen much of the Pharisees throughout the gospel of Mark. We’ve seen bits & pieces of the Herodians as well. We’ve even seen some from the priests, of whom many were Sadducees. But Mark had not yet introduced his readers to the Sadducees as a whole. He does so here.
  2. So who were they? They were elites and leadership among the Jews, but they were the theological liberals – the Jewish "left" so to speak. The Sadducees were not the legalists that the Pharisees were; they were the moralists. They were fine to base their lives off of certain parts of the Jewish Bible (the OT), but not all of it. They recognized the 1st 5 Books of Moses (the Pentateuch), but they largely disregarded the other writings & especially the prophets. (Not unlike so-called "red letter Christians" today who accept much of the 4 gospels and Acts, but disregard the theological letters of Paul & the prophetic book of Revelation.) Overall, the Sadducees were skeptical about much of the supernatural (Acts 23:8 states they did not believe in the resurrection, angels, or spirit), and as Mark specifically points out that they did not believe in "the resurrection." The idea here isn’t so much the specific prophesied resurrection of the Messiah on the 3rd day, but the overall resurrection of God’s people, which is tied in with eternal life in general. Although the concept of eternal life and physical resurrection is taught in the OT, it is taught as a mystery (something more clearly revealed in Jesus Christ, shown in the NT), and it is hardly taught at all in the Pentateuch (though it is hinted at).  Because of that, the Sadducees didn’t believe it at all.  They simply believed that once a person died, they died…that was it.
  3. It’s all of that background we need to know as we read how they approached Jesus coming into vs. 19…

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

  1. What the Sadducees reference here is accurate in regards to the Jewish idea of levirate marriage. Deuteronomy 25:5–6, "(5) “If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the widow of the dead man shall not be married to a stranger outside the family; her husband’s brother shall go in to her, take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. (6) And it shall be that the firstborn son which she bears will succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel." [] Why did God command this law through Moses? This sounds rather unappealing to our modern ears (to say the least). We have to think about this from the viewpoint of an ancient Hebrew. The women of that time had very few legal rights (though they had far more in Hebrew culture than they did in any of the pagan cultures that surrounded them). If their husbands died, leaving them widows without children, they would be left financially destitute. They did not have an inheritance of their own, and thus no way to grow their own crops. They would not be desired by too many other men, and their chances of remarriage were very slim. And then there was a different problem of the land. All of the land in Israel was supposed to be tribal & family based, passed down from generation to generation. Yet what would happen if there wasn’t a next generation to which the land could be passed? All of a sudden, there’s a bit of legal limbo & confusion, and God is not the author of confusion. Thus the law of levirate marriage. By the brother taking on his widowed sister-in-law as a wife, she not only would have financial provision, but the land inheritance would have a recipient. Problem solved.
    1. This is the whole theological basis behind the book of Ruth. A Jewish woman by the name of Naomi had her husband and two sons die while they were living abroad in Moab.  Her two sons had taken wives there, and Naomi told them to leave.  One did, while the other (Ruth) stayed with Naomi because of her great love for her.  They returned to Judah extremely poor & living on what they could glean from the fields.  Because of the law of levirate marriage, there was a distant relative (a man named Boaz) who could redeem the property/inheritance that was lost & help provide for Naomi & Ruth.  That is what he did, and Boaz ended up being the great-grandfather of David.
  2. Of course what God meant for good is being twisted for evil by the minds of the Sadducees. This is what they use to try to test Jesus. See vs. 20…

20 Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife; and dying, he left no offspring. 21 And the second took her, and he died; nor did he leave any offspring. And the third likewise. 22 So the seven had her and left no offspring. Last of all the woman died also. 23 Therefore, in the resurrection, when they rise, whose wife will she be? For all seven had her as wife.”

  1. No doubt this was a fictional situation, and the whole idea is absurd. They take the righteous law of God, and they push things to a far extreme in order to try to make their point. After all, the most obvious question here has nothing to do with the resurrection at all, but what the cause of death might be. This is a dangerous woman to whom to be married! 🙂
  2. What the Sadducees attempt to do is to paint the resurrection as ridiculous. They push an imaginary situation to an extreme, which goes to show that their question is completely dishonest. This was likely a theological conundrum they had used to stump the Pharisees in the past (who DID believe in the resurrection), and they pull out their best argument again in front of Jesus. They probably figured that no one else had been able to answer this in the past, and Jesus would prove no different.
  3. The perfect law of God is not meant to be twisted in such a fashion.  Are there legitimate questions that get raised?  Sure – but there is hardly a question that someone raises about the Scriptures today that has not found an answer over the last 2000+ years.  Generally, if we go back to the original context of the Scripture and the original culture to whom it was written, we’ll readily find the answer.  What the Sadducees did here (and what many antagonistic atheists do today) is simply disgraceful.  They weren’t honestly looking for an answer, which was shown through the fact that they didn’t ask an honest question.  They were just looking to score some cheap theological points.  God loves and values His word, even along with (or above) His own name (Ps 138:2). Those who blaspheme God’s word in such a way will surely be held accountable.

24 Jesus answered and said to them, “Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God?

  1. As with the Pharisees and the Herodians, Jesus is not going to be trapped, nor is He going to be forced to abide by the rules of the Sadducees.  They thought they had presented Jesus with a theological knot that couldn’t be untied.  It was supposed to be an unwinnable scenario, and one that proved their point.  Yet they were “mistaken.”  They were talking to Jesus, and Jesus cannot be backed into a corner.  There is no theological problem too difficult for the God behind all theology.  The problem was not with the concept of the resurrection; it was with the Sadducees themselves.  Jesus showed it in two areas…
  2. Problem #1: The Sadducees didn’t know/believe the Bible.  That much was apparent just from the fact that they only recognized the Pentateuch (the 5 books of Moses).  The books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy are important – but so are all the other 61 books of the Bible!  God gave invaluable history in the books of the kings – incredible wisdom in the proverbs – praise in the psalms – and mass amounts of prophecy throughout all of the OT…and that doesn’t even begin to get into the books of the NT that we recognize as born-again believers.  It would be one thing to only have access to a few books of the Bible, as is the case in some countries around the world that are closed to Christian missionaries.  The believers there may just have 1-2 books of the NT, and that’s it – but they are truly grateful for what they have!  But it’s another thing to have access to ALL of the Scripture, and then randomly decide that it’s not useful or needed & then discard it entirely.  If we have been given the word of God, then it is the word of God.  It could not be described as any more valuable, if we tried!  ALL of the word of God is important, and ALL of it is used by God in our lives to make us fully equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:17).
    1. Obviously that doesn’t mean that all of it is used in the same way.  It’s tough to read the 1st 9 chapters of 1 Chronicles without skimming…who wouldn’t skim over the list of names of generations of people not in our family tree?  But all of it IS the inspired word of God.  To choose to disregard God’s word is foolishness for those who claim to believe in God.
  3. Problem #2: The Sadducees didn’t know/believe the power of God.  The first problem actually leads to the second problem.  If the Sadducees chose to disregard the written word of God, how is it that they would learn of the present power of God?  Obviously, God has revealed much of Himself through the Creation around us.  No one has any excuse not to believe in an Almighty Creator God, simply because we can look around us and see the work of His hands.  Our existence is proof of God’s power.  That said, the written word of God more fully reveals His power and person to us.  We can know generally about God through creation, but we can know specifically of God through His Scripture (and we know God personally through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ).  The Scripture shows us that God is all-powerful even beyond the worlds that we can physically observe.  The God who created life surely grants everlasting life.  That much is made plain in the opening chapters of Genesis. After all, there is a reason that sin against God brought death; God had something better in store for them!  And God promised to provide that from the very dawn of creation as the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent & all would be made right again (Gen 3:15).  This is the power of Almighty God, and this is what the Sadducees missed in their pseudo-intellectualism.
  4. The worst part of all of this is because they neither believed the Bible, nor the power of God, they missed God Himself…Who was standing right in front of their eyes.  We don’t want to make the same mistake!  Open up the Scriptures – believe in truth of the unfailing power of Almighty God – and let all of that take you to the feet of the Savior!  The written word will always take us to the Living Word, the Lord Jesus.

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

  1. The question the Sadducees posed was ridiculous, but Jesus did have an answer to it – though it certainly wasn’t what the skeptical scholars imagined. They hoped to ridicule eternal life and the resurrection; Jesus didn’t even debate the reality of it. "When they rise from the dead…" not IF; but WHEN. The saints of God WILL rise from the dead, and they DO live in His presence. There is no doubt about that.
  2. It’s the human condition that is different in eternity; not life itself. People DO live in heaven, but people certainly live differently. The Sadducees assumed that people would marry, procreate, and generally live the same life in eternity just as people do on earth. It’s eternity; of course it would be different! What need would there be for procreation? What need would there be of human marriage? The very institution of marriage is but a picture of the relationship between Jesus and the Church. (Eph 5)  He is the Bridegroom & we are His Bride.  The grandest act of love in all the universe is between the Creator and His Created as He humbly reaches down to us and raises us to a position of grandeur – giving lowly humans a place even above the angels in eternity.  This is not to be confused with physical intimacy, but there is an intimacy in relationship that can only be compared with two people who’ve been happily married for decades.  We have that same kind of relationship promised us in heaven, but it will be with Jesus and it will be for eons into eternity.
  3. BTW – note that Jesus said that people in eternity would be "like angels in heaven"; not that they would BE angels in heaven. Humans are humans, and angels are angels. One does not become the other upon death. …

26 But concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. You are therefore greatly mistaken.”

  1. Like the Pharisees, the Sadducees had missed the main point. They missed God Himself. They were so busy attempting to judge what was and wasn’t true about God through the few Scriptures they did accept that they missed out completely on what God revealed of Himself through those same Scriptures. They did not have to read the prophets to learn of the supernatural, or of life beyond the grave; they could read the very Books of Moses. God speaking through a burning bush has no other description OTHER than "supernatural," and the way He described Himself described a God who reigns over the living; not the dead. God did not say He WAS the God of Abraham, but that He IS the God of Abraham. God is not I WAS, but I AM – the everlasting One who graciously provides everlasting life to those who have faith in Him.
    1. When a saint of God dies, the Bible tells us that we are absent from the body but present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:8).  Our physical body may remain here, buried in the ground, but our persons (our souls – who we ARE) are in the actual presence of Almighty God.  Saints of God are alive there.  Born-again believers in Jesus who die don’t truly die; we just relocate.  As Jesus told Martha the sister of Lazarus: John 11:25–26, "(25) Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. (26) And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” " []  Apart from the blessed hope of the rapture, we will all assuredly die.  But when we die, we won’t truly die – we’ll live in the presence of God.  And we will forever live in the presence of God.  Even as we think about our loved ones in Christ who have died in the past, we don’t have to refer to them in past tense.  If they were born-again Christians, then they are alive right now in the present.  Just as God IS the God of Abraham, God IS the God of all those who have faith in Him – all of them are alive in His presence.
  2. Do you believe in the God of the living?

They tried to trap Him, but they failed.  No matter who came (the Pharisees, Herodians, or Sadducees) – no matter what tactics they used to try to trip Jesus up and test Him – they couldn’t do it.  They couldn’t flatter Jesus into making a mistake, nor could they confuse Jesus through the contrived dilemmas of men.  The Son of God won’t be trapped, no matter who tries to do it.

Don’t try to trap Jesus – don’t try to test Him – trust Him.  The Pharisees, Herodians, Sadducees, and anyone else was welcome to come to Jesus.  They could have brought their honest questions, concerns, and trials to Jesus, and they would have received the comforting truth of God, and the compassion of Christ towards them.  In fact, all of these groups still had that very opportunity; they just chose to waste it as they still tried to gain the upper hand in their rebellion.  They were resisting God, and thus they found themselves trying to push against a brick wall…it wasn’t going to budge.

If that describes you, stop resisting Jesus.  Stop trying to trap Him, test Him, push back against Him, and rebel against Him in general.  Jesus DOES offer compassion and grace, but you need to trust Him.  See Him for who He truly is – who He has already abundantly proven Himself to be – and then trust Him as your Lord.  Leave your sin and rebellion in the past, confessing it to God, and humbly ask Jesus to forgive you & be your Lord & Savior.  He went to the cross & rose from the grave to make it possible for you to do exactly that, so do it.

For others of us, we need to be reminded of the power of the Living God.  We need to be reminded of our need to trust our Lord Jesus, no matter what.  He is worthy of our trust.  He always speaks the truth, and He always leads us into the truth.  We need to be reminded of His power, how there is nothing impossible for Him for His is the living God & the God of the living.  No matter what we face right now, this is a God in whom we can trust…this is a God whom we can believe for every promise…this is OUR God, and in whom we can rest.  Trust Him – lean upon Him – rely upon Him. 

  1. Linda K Stobel says:

    This is a great read. Bless God! Thank you for writing it.

  2. timburns says:

    Praise the Lord! Thanks for stopping by.

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