March 13 – Chronological Life of Jesus Day 52
Today’s reading is focused on talking to the doubters—attempting to teach them, amazing them, and dismissing them. Since Matthew’s gospel is written as an argument proving that Jesus is the Messiah, it makes sense that Matthew lumps together these interactions between Jesus and the Pharisees and Sadducees.
READ: Matthew 22
The parable of the wedding banquet in Matthew 22:1-14 is very similar to Luke’s parable of the great banquet in 14:15-24. Both parables have the same general message, but there are enough differences that they are likely not two accounts of the same parable. In both parables, the invited guests reject the invitation, having better things to do; Jesus is drawing this parallel to the Pharisees and Jews who are rejecting him as the Messiah. Matthew’s parable goes even further, foreshadowing the Jews ultimate rejection of Jesus and his followers—from verse 6: “’The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them.’” It’s interesting that both good and bad from the street corners were gathered for the wedding banquet (vs. 10), but one who wasn’t wearing wedding clothes was kicked out (vs. 12-13). Jesus is expressing that it’s not just everyone who’s not a Jew that will be accepted into the Kingdom of Heaven, and it’s not a lottery, but we have to prepare ourselves to go to heaven—we have to get our fancy Easter dress on and tie on our bonnet, which we do by believing in Jesus. He washes our sins away and makes us new!
Verses 15-22, 23-33, and 34-40 are a series of questions asked by the Pharisees or Sadducees and Jesus’ responses. These questions were meant to trap Jesus so he could be arrested and stopped. Jesus counters back with his own question for them in verses 41-46, in a drop-the-mike-and-leave-the-stage kind of moment. So the chapter wraps with verse 46: “No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on, no one dared to ask him any more questions.” BAM! Jesus is God! He’s smarter than me and you combined.
One of these questions was which is the greatest commandment. I’m so thankful for Jesus’ answer to this question. And he didn’t limit himself to just one of the ten commandments given to Moses; his answer encompasses all of the commandments and scriptures, in verse 37:
“…’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind [Deuteronomy 6:5]. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself [Leviticus 19:18]. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’”
If we obey these two commands, all the other commandments are obeyed too. I love simple. And this is so simple I can teach it to my kids. I once experimented with this when I was teaching in kids ministry. I told the kids that the rules of the room were the same as the rules Jesus gave us: (1) Love God, and (2) Love Others. Then every behavior/discipline issue that came up, I related it back to these two rules. Are you loving others when you’re hitting Jimmy? Are you showing love to God when you sulk in the corner instead of joining us in worship? It really does work! Try it! Take a look at the ten commandments in Exodus 20:1-17. One-by-one, categorize them as loving God or loving others. Commands 1-4 are to love God; Commands 5-10 are to love others. Jesus is the best, oh yes, oh yes! And I would have never figured this out without Jesus showing me.
Specifically, the command to love others that Jesus is pointing to is from Leviticus 19:18: “’Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.’” We hit on forgiveness earlier this week in Wednesday’s post and in our Thursday morning moms group, and this verse is a great one to write into your heart so it’s there when you need it. The love chapter also addresses it, from 1 Corinthians 13:5: “[Love] keeps no record of wrongs.” God does not want us to hold grudges; He wants us to show love! God is love!
Love God. Love others.
I am so thankful for the wisdom in Your Word and for You teaching me through it. Thank You for the reminder today of something You taught me several years ago. As I pray for wisdom and discernment in parenting, I know that You are answering my prayer by reminding me of this. And I know I haven’t been teaching it to my kids, when it’s something we should be talking about when we sit at home, when we walk along the road, when we lie down and when we get up (Deuteronomy 11:18-19). Please continue to guide and remind me!