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Lesson #18 Flashpoint!

(Matthew 22: 1 23: 39)

In Lesson #17 Jesus and his disciples entered Jerusalem to the cheers of thousands: Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest! (21: 9). Following the journey of the hero motif, Jesus entered enemy territory where he will engage the enemy in his final test, the defeat of Satan and death, enabling the redemption of all of humanity.

With each passing day of Holy Week Jesus escalates his encounters with the religious leaders, culminating in seven scathing denouncements, calling them hypocrites, blind guides, a brood of vipers and murdersall this, as he whips the ever-growing crowd into a frenzy. Pontius Pilate, the Roman Prefect, along with a contingent of up to 3,000 Roman legionnaires, has moved up from their headquarters at Caesarea Maritima on the Mediterranean coast to the Antonia Fortress in Jerusalem, where they monitor closely Jesus activitiesand go on high alert, fearing a revolt and the inevitable blood bath that would result.

The religious leaders, too, fear that if Jesus continues down this path he will put Jewish religious freedom and the very survival of the nation at risk.

As the physicist Carl Sagan once said of the 20th-century nuclear arms race: the United States and the Soviet Union are like two sworn enemies standing waist deep in gasoline, one with three matches, the other with five. So it is with Jesus and the authorities.
As we move into Lesson #18, Matthew 22 completes the C unit of our overall structure and Matthew 23 begins the B unit, Great Discourse #5, the Olivet Discourse.

The Gospel according to Matthews overall mirrored chiastic structure


A Narrative: Jesus as Messiah, Son of God (1-4) Minor discourse: John the Baptist identifies the authority of Jesus (3:7-12) B Great Discourse #1: Demands of true discipleship (5-7) C Narrative: The supernatural authority of Jesus (8-9) D Great Discourse #2: Charge and authority of disciples (10) E Narrative: Jews reject Jesus (11-12) F Great Discourse #3: Parables of the Kingdom of Heaven (13) E Narrative: Disciples accept Jesus (14-17) D Great Discourse #4: Charge and authority of church (18) C Narrative: Authority and invitation (19-22) B Great Discourse #5: Judgment on false discipleship (23-25) Narrative: Jesus as Messiah, suffering and vindicated (26-28) Minor discourse: Jesus identifies the authority of the church (28:18-20)

Antonia Fortress Royal Portico


Southern Steps Eastern Wall Golden Gate

Temple

The Temple in Jesus day.


(1.50 scale model of 1st-century Jerusalem, Israel Museum.)
Photography by Ana Maria Vargas

Antonia Fortress Southern Steps

Southern steps of the Temple where the religious leaders confront Jesus. Notice the close proximity of the Antonia Fortress and the Roman officials.
Photography by Ana Maria Vargas

After Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem the chief priests and the elders of the people (21: 23) confront him, demanding to know who he is and who gave him the authority to do what he is doing. Jesus replies with a stinging indictment of the religious leaders, followed by three scathing parables:
1. 2. The Parable of the Two Sons (21: 28-32)
Tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.

The Parable of the Tenants (21: 33-46)


When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they knew that he was speaking about them.

3.

The Parable of the Wedding Feast (22: 1-13)


Many are invited, but few are chosen.

Pieter Aertsen. The Parable of the Wedding Feast (oil on panel), 1550-1554. The Cummer Museum, Jacksonville, Florida.

Following Jesus three blistering indictments of the religious leaders, the religious leaders seek to discredit Jesus in the eyes of the crowd with three tests:
Test #1: Test #2: Test #3: Paying Taxes to Caesar (22: 15-22) Question about the Resurrection (22: 23-33) What is the Greatest Commandment? (22: 34-40)

Following Jesus three scathing indictments of the religious leaders, they seek to discredit Jesus in the eyes of the crowds with three tests:
Test #1: Paying Taxes to Caesar (22: 15-22)

Test #2:
Test #3:

Question about the Resurrection (22: 23-33)


What is the Greatest Commandment? (22: 34-40)

Silver denarius with the Emperor Tiberias (reign, A.D. 14-37). The inscription reads: Caesar Augustus Tiberias, son of the Divine Augustus. The reverse features Livia, wife of Augustus and mother of Tiberias, as Pax (Peace).

Following Jesus three scathing indictments of the religious leaders, they seek to discredit Jesus in the eyes of the crowds with three tests:
Test #1: Paying Taxes to Caesar (22: 15-22)

Test #2:
Test #3:

Question about the Resurrection (22: 23-33)


What is the Greatest Commandment? (22: 34-40)

Following Jesus three scathing indictments of the religious leaders, they seek to discredit Jesus in the eyes of the crowds with three tests:
Test #1: Paying Taxes to Caesar (22: 15-22)

Test #2:
Test #3:

Question about the Resurrection (22: 23-33)


What is the Greatest Commandment? (22: 34-40)

After thoroughly discrediting the religious leaders, Jesus drives the final nail into the coffin by asking:

What is your opinion about the Messiah?


(22: 41-46) And he follows it up with seven blistering attacks on the religious leaders that leave his audience and his disciplesspeechless!

1. The religious leaders sought to discredit Jesus in the eyes of the crowds by a series of very shrewd questions, and Jesus counters by discrediting them. How does he do so in the paying taxes to Caesar episode? 2. If you were a Sadducee, how would you support your position on resurrection? 3. Why does Jesus call the religious leaders hypocrites? 4. How do the religious leaders lock the kingdom of heaven before human beings (23: 13)? 5. What do you think Jesus hoped to accomplish with his scathing indictment and public humiliation of the religious leaders?

Copyright 2014 by William C. Creasy


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