A large part of our reading today is Jesus flummoxing the religious authorities who are desperately trying to find a way to arrest Him!
First, they try to get Jesus on a charge of insurrection (20-26). If they can get Him to say that people shouldn’t pay taxes, they can turn Him over to the Roman authorities. Jesus deftly handles the trap, and reminds us that we are to pay taxes too.
Next, the Sadducees, who don’t even believe in a resurrection, try to pose an impossible theological problem. Jesus challenges their understanding of the afterlife, and affirms the reality of the resurrection by calling attention to Exodus 3:6. Jesus ends up avoiding their trap and playing the leadership against each other. The Pharisees, who believe in the resurrection, are thrilled!
Finally, Jesus takes matters into His own hands. He challenges them with Psalm 110:1. If the Messiah is the descendant of David, then why does David call him Lord? He must be more than simply David’s son! Matthew 22:46 records their response: “And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.”
Our passage concludes with a warning against religious leadership that is only in it for prestige and money. They will receive a more severe punishment because they should have known better.
James 3:1 “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”