John T. Willis

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Attempts to Entrap Jesus about Priorities and Resurrection--Luke 20:20-40

Jesus' opponents and enemies continue to attempt to entrap him in some concept so they can arrest and crucify him. The next two paragraphs deal with priorities and the resurrection from the dead. Apparently, these questions occurred while Jesus was teaching at the Jerusalem temple daily--see Luke 19:47. These two questions and Jesus' replies appear in Luke 20:20-40 and fall into two parts. I. The Question about Priorities. Luke 20:20-26. a. After Jesus delivered his parable of the wicked tenants in Luke 20:9-19, his opponents, the scribes and the chief priests of the Jews (Luke 20:19) watched Jesus maliciously and sent spies who pretended to be honest to entrap Jesus by what he said to hand Jesus over to the jurisdiction and authority of the governor. Apparently these spies pretended they were righteous to say to Jesus that they believed Jesus speaks and teaches rightly, shows no favor to anyone, and instructs people about God's way. In doing this, they are attempting to put Jesus off guard and say something so they can arrest and kill him. 20:20-21. b. Then the scribes and chief priests of the Jews asked Jesus, "Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?" The taxes or tribute was the direct poll tax levied on inhabitants of Judea. At that time, the "emperor" was Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus. 20:22. c. Jesus knows the hearts of all people (see John 2:24-25). Thus, Jesus knew immediately that the scribes and chief priests used "craftiness." Their craftiness was their readiness to resort to anything (even praise] to achieve their goal. So Jesus said to these opponents: "Show me a denarius. Whose head and whose title does it bear?" The silver denarius weighed 3.8 grams and had been in use in the Roman world since 268 BCE. Jesus' opponents responded: This head and title are the emperor's. 20:23-24. d. Jesus replied: "Then give to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's." Jesus acknowledges that an earthly ruler has a significant role in human life. This agrees with Romans 13:1-7. But much more importantly, God the Creator and Sustainer of all life is in control of the lives of all human beings; Yahweh is Lord, and all of us human beings are his creatures and servants. 20:25. e. The scribes and high priests could not respond. Among other things, they were afraid of the Jewish people. Amazed by Jesus' response, they became silent. 20:26. II. God raises people from the dead. Luke 20:27-40. a. Then some Sadducees came to Jesus. The Sadducees did not believe there is a resurrection from the dead. The Sadducees in the first century BCE and the first century CE were descendants of Zadok the high priest in Jerusalem, but over time they had become very restricted and thus lived in a very small circle of people. 20:27. b. The Sadducees pose the question about levirate marriage. Levirate marriage is a situation in which a man dies and leave his widow who has no children. Then it becomes the responsibility that the husband's brother officially marries his wife to give birth to children. This law is found in Genesis 38:8; Deuteronomy 25:5. Ruth 4:1-12 gives an extensive description of this legal situation. The Sadducees paint this picture: a man married a woman but later the man died. He had six brothers, and each one of them in turn married the same woman, and each one died. Now, in the resurrection, which of these seven men would be the woman's husband. 20:28-33. c. Jesus responded saying that people who live on earth marry and are married, but after death there will be neither marrying nor giving in marriage. After the resurrection, people cannot die again because they are like angels and are children of God of the resurrection. The clearest description of the resurrection is in 1 Corinthians 15. 1 Corinthians 15:42-49 says that the physical body is perishable, but the spiritual body is imperishable. Here there is no idea of a separation between the body and the spirit, which is a Greek concept. Rather, God creates a physical BODY, and God creates a spiritual BODY. No one could possibly know what the spiritual body might look like. 20:34-36. d. Jesus then alludes to the story of Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3:1-10. Then he makes the point that God is not a God of the dead, but of the living. Hence, God will raise faithful people from death to live with God eternally. 20:37-38. e. Some of the scribes, favoring the resurrection from the dead, said: "Jesus, YOU have spoken well." Then they no longer dared to ask Jesus another question. 20:39-40. Share YOUR thoughts and beliefs and insights and reversals and problems with others. Let me hear from YOU. John Willis