Ch7, v5: …And a voice from the cloud said “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!” Jesus is transfigured and the glory of God shone through him. With him are Moses, representing the Law, through the commandments and Elijah, representing the Prophets. This is to show that Jesus fulfilled both the Law and the prophecies. It is no wonder that the disciples were afraid, but do they now realise who Jesus is? Not only does He heal the sick, even raise the dead to life, cast out demons, calm the storm, feed the thousands and teach with such knowledge and authority; He is once again endorsed by the voice of God. It is interesting that Jesus tells the disciples not to tell anyone of what they have seen – not until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead (v9). This is the first of a few times he tells them of his death in the next few chapters. V22 – 23 “The Son of Man will be betrayed… They will kill him and on the third day he will be raised to life.” Then again Ch: 20 v18 “… They will condemn him to death…. On the third day he will be raised to life.” And once more in v26 “…To give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus was letting his disciples know his purpose here on earth, even though it would not be until after it was accomplished that they would be able to fully understand. Jesus also knows that we cannot always understand what He tells us. We need the Holy Spirit to reveal these things to us.
There is so much in these chapters, but I have to admit that I had not before read about the Temple Tax paid with the four-drachma coin from the mouth of the first fish that Peter was told to catch. Of all the ways He could find 4 drachmas to pay the tax! It did make me smile J. In fact, Jesus’ key point was that He should not be required to pay taxes in His own house – the temple – however this is part of a bigger theme across the coming chapters where Jesus takes on the temple authorities.
I have only just this Sunday heard preaching on Jesus at the Temple, where He over-turned the tables of the money changers and the benches of the merchants selling goods, Ch21 v12-17. Jesus finds the religious authorities are so corrupt and have completely lost sight that this is God’s house and a place where God is at the centre and everyone should be welcome. Jesus quotes from the Old Testament prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah, reminding them that the Temple should be a ‘house of prayer’ and that it is now being used as a ‘den of robbers’.
The chief priests, elders, Sadducees and Pharisees are all very uncomfortable with the authority that Jesus demonstrates and He is confronting them head on. They really do want to get rid of Him now! He tells them through parables that it is not enough to obey the law, even the rich young man in Ch 19 learns how hard it is to be worthy of the kingdom of heaven. Our hope lies in Jesus’ statement about who can be saved v26 “with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible”.
The elders and chief priests are thinking up as many tests and questions to try and catch Jesus out. Each time, His answers amaze and confound them by their truth and virtue. The question by the Sadducees Ch22 v23-33 about marriage after the resurrection shows that Jesus knows that the order of things will be very different from life that we know now. Marriage will not feature as we will be like angels. Who else could answer with such knowledge?
Ch21 v28 and v33 Jesus tells the Parable of the Two Disobedient Sons and the Parable of the Tenants and the Pharisees and chief priests realised that the parables are about them. God had sent His prophets and messengers to the people, who had rejected and killed them. He then sent His son who would also be killed. He quotes Psalm 118 referring to the cornerstone or capstone being rejected. The very foundation of the church is Jesus Christ. Those who believe and trust in Jesus are blessed and those who stumble over that rock chosen by God, are condemned. (Isaiah 28:14-16 God told the rulers of Jerusalem that their security was false and he would lay a precious cornerstone, which really was secure). Jesus is the cornerstone; Jesus is God’s promise.
Ch22 v 41-45 Whose Son is the Christ? They must have been delighted when they came up with this question – How would Jesus answer this one! Jesus is born into the line of David and it is known that the Messiah or Christ, would be of David’s ancestry – ‘a son’ of David. Jesus quotes David from Psalm 110, which has a strange line “The Lord said to my Lord”. Jesus explains that David was speaking with knowledge from the Spirit of God and calls Christ ‘Lord’. It doesn’t matter how many times you go over this one it is not quite possible to ‘square the circle’, as the questioners found out! The fact was that Jesus became human and was God-made-man. He is therefore both son of David and Christ (The Messiah): God incarnate and son of man (human).
Clearly in Ch23 Jesus is not pulling any punches with the Pharisees and teachers of the Law when he calls them hypocrites many times over. He is telling us that God is not interested in how well we can interpret the rules, or how well we enforce them onto others. God is only interested in what is in our hearts; our humility, our willingness to serve and to concentrate on the ‘more important matters of justice, mercy and faithfulness’ (v24).
At the start of these chapters God is telling us to listen to Jesus. Jesus tells us to that He is our true foundation, sent to fulfil God’s promise for us. With God all things are possible! Jesus tells us how important each one of us is to God and that we are all invited to be part of His Kingdom. We don’t have to rely on our own abilities to get to heaven, we just have to ask in prayer, follow Jesus and trust in God’s promise.