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John316Marshall.com » Matthew 22

Jesus Won. Pharisees Lost.

Posted in Matthew, Matthew 22, New Testament

Matthew 22:46-23:3

Jesus Won. Pharisees Lost.

Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall


Matt. 22:46   No one was able to answer Him at all, and from that day

no one dared to question Him any more.


The Israelites loved David so much that they could not conceive any other human being having the right to command Him. They were forced to assume Jesus was describing for the role of Messiah a preeminence that could be afforded only to deity, and was claiming this honor for Himself.

They disagreed with Him, but knew precisely what He was asserting. The thought of a Messiah being God in human flesh took their breath away. Jesus’ enemies were awed, silenced, by the perceived blasphemy from Him.

Many who will never bring glory to God by being saved or by their voice, will bring Him glory by being silenced. God will not be mocked.

The silence of the Pharisees thundered their defeat, and brought Jesus honor. He won. They lost. Having lost the debate, the Pharisees now turned to violence. Henceforth treachery and ferocity would supplant their words.

Jesus allowed the Pharisees to question and reason with Him for a while, but the time allotted for deliberation did come to an end. Only when Jesus knew there was no more hope did He pronounce against them the woes of Matthew 23. He could tell they were in essence beyond reclamation now.

In my younger years I heard older preachers call this “sinning away your day of grace”. The door of salvation does not remain open forever.

The Pharisees continually rejected Jesus, refused to repent, and then finally crossed the line of peril. Only after this did Jesus speak judgment.

Rejecting God’s truth sinks us lower into Satan’s lies. Our decisions never leave us at the same level. Each draws us closer to good or to evil.

The argument Jesus set forth in our text was airtight, irrefutable. Later, one of the Pharisees, Saul of Tarsus, did embrace Jesus’ claims, and wrote, “Jesus Christ our Lord. . .was a descendant of David according to the flesh and was established as the powerful Son of God by the resurrection from the dead according to the Spirit of holiness” (Romans 1:3-4).

Jesus’ unassailable answer made His initial question to the Pharisees the most momentous of all time. He claimed to be God. Our angriest foes are those who deny Jesus is God. The reason for their resentment is obvious. If Jesus is God, there is no wiggle room in whether to embrace Him or not.

Some seem to hate Christianity so much that even if it were proved true beyond all doubt, they would not believe. For instance, the religious leaders, rather than believe the obvious evidence soldiers told them about the resurrection of Jesus, paid hush money. All the leaders would have had to do was produce a corpse. They could not do so, but refused to believe anyway.


Matt. 23:1   Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples:


The crowds and the disciples needed to be warned in order to protect them from the Pharisees. Jesus never spoke words more scathing than those in this chapter, His last public sermon. In words that can “blanch” (McGee) the soul, Jesus ripped masks off men who arrogantly pretended holiness.


Matt. 23:2 “The scribes and Pharisees are seated in the chair of Moses.”


The original purpose of the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus’ antagonists, was to explain what Moses had taught. They sat in his “chair”, a symbolic way of referring to his teaching authority. When Holy Writ was read, Jews stood out of respect to it being God’s direct words (NH 8:5). A person whose words explained the Law did not hold the same reverence as God’s words.

If the Bible was taught, the teacher sat as a sign of reverence to God’s words being superior to their own. For God, people stood. God’s teachers sat. The greatest teacher of all had been Moses; he was the ultimate sitter.

In every synagogue, four things could be found: a copy of the Law, a reader of the Law, a teacher of the Law, and a stone seat at the front where the most authoritative teacher sat. The latter was called the “chair” of Moses.

The Greek word for “chair” is “kathedra”, from which we derive our word cathedral, which is a place of authority. From it also springs the phrase “ex cathedra”, describing when the Pope speaks with authority. Our Baptist tradition diverges from the latter. Paul did not claim this level of authority, saying, “Not that we lord it over your faith” (2 Cor. 1:24). Peter told Pastors to do their work, “not lording it over those entrusted to you” (1 Peter 5:3a).

Universities carry on the “kathedra” image when they speak of a Chair of History or Mathematics, etc. The phrase denotes someone who has proven expertise in a particular field and can thus speak to it with authority.


Matt. 23:3a “Therefore do whatever they tell you and observe it.”


Scribes and Pharisees sat in the chair of Moses. When they taught what Moses taught, they were to be obeyed. Only to this extent did they have authority. To their credit, we admit they never corrupted the written sacred text. They scrupulously guarded it. We are grateful for this, but . . .


Matt. 23:3b   “But don’t do what they do, because they don’t practice

what they teach.”


If they accurately taught Moses, they were to be obeyed. But if they strayed—for instance, if they emphasized their pet add-ons and loopholes—they were to be disregarded. When their lives did not match their teaching, when their deeds disconnected from their words, they were to be disobeyed.

I have no doubt the scribes and Pharisees began well, with good intentions, in Israel’s early post-exilic history. What happened to them? Where did they go wrong? The same ways people today still go wrong.

Whenever we start to fill a given role in the Kingdom, our heart is earnestly and eagerly engaged. As time passes, it is easy to lose heart-interest. Hands can focus on one thing while the heart is on something else.

Whatever we do for God can, over time, become perfunctory. We need to examine ourselves. In our daily Bible reading, are we still eager to learn? In our church attendance, do we still come with anticipation?

Another problem we face is; because of pressure we feel due to the expectations of others, often we are tempted to appear more religious than we really are. We begin to pretend, which is an initial form of hypocrisy.

In recent years we have often seen church leaders fall hard and crash. This has devastated many Christ-followers. Some have walked away from the Bible, but Scripture is to be revered, however bad its teachers and preachers become. Truth is truth, even when sinful lips speak it. Food brought by angels is no tastier than food brought by ravens (Henry).

Some give up on church. I know the weaknesses of church members. I remind us; they are the kindest, most giving, and best people in any society.

Some feel all church leaders are charlatans. My profession has taken a beating in my 47 years of ministry, but we do not need to do away with it.

I sometimes feel disappointment from people when I tell them I am a Pastor. Please don’t judge me by your stereotypes. I am not a clone. I am a self-contained unit, a person, an individual uniquely made in God’s image.

Jesus was severe toward leaders who misused Scripture, especially when they were supposed to be its guardians. Many people in the Kingdom still dishonor their roles. Good positions are often filled with bad people.

Learn to follow no one blindly. Even Moses sinned grievously. Be like the noble Beroeans, who after hearing Paul and Silas preach, prudently “examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11).



Posted in Matthew, Matthew 22, New Testament

Matthew 22:41-45


Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall


Matthew 22:41-42a (Holman)   While the Pharisees were together,

Jesus questioned them, “What do you think about the Messiah?”


The questioned One became the questioner. Taking on the Pharisees as a group, Jesus singlehandedly outwitted their collective ability. Jesus liked to give His opponents the home field advantage. God enjoys winning when His opponents seem to have every advantage against Him. This gives His children confidence in His ability to help them whatever the situation.

Jesus asked the Pharisees their thoughts on the Messiah. Even in our spiritually dead nature, God enables us to think, to reason, to ponder spiritual truths. Despite this fact, some never think about the Messiah at all.

Pastor C. S. Robinson asked a man what he thought of Jesus. When the man frankly replied he did not think about Jesus, Robinson asked if he had been born in a year B.C. or A.D., before Christ or Year of our Lord?

Every time we write the date we commemorate the birth of Jesus, yet many have never taken time to ponder the One whose life was so significant that it divides time. His birth shook humanity. It is the ultimate earthquake of history, totally off the chart on the spiritual Richter Scale. Whether you believe in Jesus or not, you owe it to yourself to investigate His claims.


Matt. 22:42b-43a   “Whose Son is He?” “David’s,” they told Him. He

asked them, “How is it then that David, inspired by the Spirit, . .”


The Jews universally believed Messiah would directly descend from King David. Had Jesus been born about 75 years later, we could not have verified His royal earthly ancestry. The Jews kept meticulous records till the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. None of Jesus’ contemporaries, including His bitterest enemies, ever contested Jesus’ ancestry. Had they disproved the Davidic genealogy, their case would have been won by default, but God ordained Messiah would come while the genealogical records still existed. In the fullness of time, at precisely the right moment, Jesus came (Gal. 4:4).

In questioning the Pharisees, Jesus returned to His much used, and always trusted, authority: The Bible. He said the Old Testament had Divine authority. Its writers were “inspired by the Spirit”. Jesus believed every word in Scripture. In the Bible, look not only for overarching concepts. Reverently weigh each phrase. The Holy Spirit inspired every word in it.

Knowing Jesus as presented in Scripture is our only hope of getting it right about Messiah’s role in the Kingdom. Israel’s conceptions of what Christ should be did not jive with reality. This led to national disaster. To be wrong in our understanding of Jesus is to be wrong everywhere. If we think amiss about Jesus, we speak and act amiss. We cannot make up a fairy tale Jesus to satisfy our imaginations. Our beliefs must be rooted in Scripture.


Matt. 22:43b   . . .calls Him “Lord”?


Jesus will now use this question to call attention to Psalm 110, which in His day was unanimously believed to be a Messianic Psalm. It is the most frequently quoted Old Testament chapter in the New Testament. Pastor James Boice claimed it is quoted over 27 times. It is a garden of proof texts (Buttrick) to validate and buttress Jesus is the Son of God, Messiah.

Psalm 110 is for sure the greatest and clearest Messianic Psalm. This Psalm (110:4) emphasized Messiah would be a priest like Melchizedek: no beginning, no end, Heaven-sent, establishing an unchangeable priesthood.


Matt. 22:44a   The Lord declared to my Lord, . . .


This quote of Psalm 110:1a comprises one of the most significant utterances in the history of speech. David is the observer, the one speaking. The first “Lord” is the Tetragrammaton YHWH, the holy name of God. Jews considered God’s name too holy to be spoken. To prevent breaking the third command by taking God’s name in vain, they refused to speak it out loud.

To prevent Hebrew readers from slipping, and accidentally pronouncing the name, vowels of the word adonai (Lord) were superimposed on the consonants YHWH, thereby creating a word that was not a part of standard vocabulary. Our word “Jehovah” was an effort to translate this vowel/consonant combination. We now know Yahweh is the proper pronunciation. Out of respect to Jewish sensitivity, English Bibles have usually not used the name of God. Instead, they use the word “Lord”, with the O R and D being capital letters smaller than the L. This occurs over 5000 times in the Hebrew Bible. For instance, Psalm 23 begins in the Hebrew with YHWH, but we say “The Lord”. If you look at the verse in the KJV and most modern translations, you see the smaller capital letters.

The second “Lord” in our text is adonai, which means Lord or master. You can see it is not the holy name because o r and d are lower case letters.


Matt. 22:44b . . . Sit at My right hand until I put Your enemies under

                                    Your feet?


There is no doubt the second “Lord” refers to Messiah. He is the One who sits at God’s right hand, the place of rest and rule, of honor and safety.

The highest honor at court a King could bestow was to seat someone at his right hand. The King could always consult with someone at his right hand, and the person so honored had freedom to talk with the King. For Christ-followers, this phrase “At God’s right hand” has become dear beyond words. It blesses us to think our Lord is holding the seat of honor and peace.

This is also the seat of power. Our choice is stark yet simple: friends of Jesus or His footstools. His enemies will lie in the dust beneath His feet.


Matt. 22:45   “If David calls Him ‘Lord,’ how then can the Messiah be

his Son?”


Jesus now explained the significance of the two “Lord-words”. David, inspired by the Spirit, had miraculously experienced a conversation: God the Father talking to God the Son. The King, a thousand years before Messiah was born, related the words he experienced, “YHWH said to my Lord.” In other words, the Messiah, “my Lord”, who would descend from David a thousand years later had already lived a thousand years before becoming David’s son. Messiah was David’s Lord before becoming David’s son.

The quandary is; fathers don’t call sons “Lord”. Sons are subservient to fathers, but here the roles are reversed. How can a person be superior and subservient, above and below, Lord and descendant, sovereign and subject?

Only one explanation is possible. It is true that Messiah was David’s son within history, but Messiah was also God’s Son throughout eternity.

Messiah would be a man, but could not be only a man. To be David’s Lord, Jesus had to be God. To be David’s descendant, Jesus had to be man.

This is the overwhelming verdict regarding Jesus’ Person in the New Testament, where all our beliefs must be grounded. John the Beloved recorded His dear Friend’s claim, “I am the Root and Offspring of David” (RV 22:16). Jesus is root, God, Ancient of Days. He is offspring, man, baby. The crucifixion proved His humanity. The resurrection proved His deity.

Messiah would have to be God made flesh: one person, two natures; fully God, fully man. The Jews could hardly fathom this thought. For them, God was too holy, and human flesh too sinful, for the two to ever bond.