Jesus was in His final week of public ministry. His popularity was unparalleled. Yet Jesus faced challengers — largely the powerful Jewish leaders. It was their goal to end Jesus’ ministry by any means necessary.
A tactic used by these leaders was to trap Jesus with loaded questions. They made numerous attempts to stump the Teacher. Here we look at four examples.
Jesus was teaching in the temple and the “chief priests and elders of the people” asked Him — “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave You this authority?” (Matthew 21:23). Jesus countered with His own question — “The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” (v.25a).
This led to a discussion by these leaders — “If we say, ‘From heaven’ He will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know” (vv.25b-27a). Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (v.27b). Score 1 for Jesus.
On another occasion these Jewish leaders posed a second question, one that had political overtones — “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” (22:17b).
Jesus knew their real motive and said, “Why put Me to the test, you hypocrites? Show Me the coin for the tax” (vv.18-19a). When a denarius was brought Jesus posed His pivotal question — “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” (v.20).
The Jewish leaders acknowledged that it was “Caesar’s” (v.21a). Jesus wisely said — “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (v.21b). Score another point for Jesus.
A third question was a test from lawyer who was a Sadducee (22:34-35) — “Teacher, which is the great commandment of the Law?” (v.36). Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (v.37).
But Jesus went further — “And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depends all the Law and the Prophets.” (vv.39-40). Jesus is ahead by 3.
Room for one more challenge. The Pharisees asked Jesus a question regarding Christ — “Whose Son is He? ….The son of David?” (v.42). Jesus shared a quote from King David where he referred to Him as “Lord” (vv.44-45). Therefore Christ could not be a son. The final score was Jesus 4…Leaders 0.
Pastor Dan Kohn
Author of Discipleship In The Postmodern Age
(715) 610-2400 / RevKohn@gmail.com