The most important thing

The Pharisees met together and planned how they could trap Jesus in something that he said. When they’d reached a decision, they sent their people, and some of the Herodians, to speak with him.

“Teacher,” they said, “we know that you’re a man of integrity and you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You’re not influenced by others, because you don’t show partiality to anyone. So tell us, please, what you think about this: Is it right for us to pay the poll-tax to Caesar or not?”

But Jesus saw through their deception.

“Hypocrites!” he said. “Why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin that’s used to pay the tax.” They brought him a denarius and he asked, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription does it carry?”

“Caesar’s,” they said.

“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s,” he said, “and give to God what is God’s.”

When they heard this, they were amazed. Leaving him, they went away.

Later the same day, Jesus was approached by the Sadducees, who claim that there’s no resurrection.

“Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without children, his brother should marry the widow and have children to carry on the brother’s name. Well, there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and then died without children, so his brother married the widow. But then the second brother also died, and the third brother married her. This continued with all seven of the brothers. Then, last of all, the woman also died. So, can you tell us whose wife she will be in the resurrection, because all seven were married to her?”

“The thing is,” said Jesus, “is that you neither know the Scriptures nor the power of God. At the resurrection, people won’t marry or be given in marriage. Instead, they’ll be like the angels.

“And concerning the resurrection – haven’t you read what God said? He said: ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ So he’s not the God of the dead, he’s the God of the living!”

When the crowds heard Jesus say this, they were amazed.

But when the Pharisees heard that he’d silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together again and one of them, an expert in the law, posed a question to trap him.

“Teacher,” he said, “which is the most important commandment in the Law?”

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind,’ said Jesus. “This is the first and most important commandment. And the second one is similar: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Then, while the Pharisees were still standing around him, Jesus asked them a question.

“What do you think about the Messiah?” he asked. “Whose son is he?”

“The son of David,” they said.

“In that case,” said Jesus, “why did David, when he was inspired by the Holy Spirit, call him ‘Lord’? Because he said: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, sit in at my right hand until I humble your enemies under your feet.’ If David called the Messiah ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?”

None of the Pharisees were able to give an answer to Jesus. And after that, no one had the courage to ask him any more questions.

Matthew

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