Red Letter Year: 5/16

Matthew 22:15-33

15 Then the Pharisees met together to plot how to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested. 16 They sent some of their disciples, along with the supporters of Herod, to meet with him. “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You teach the way of God truthfully. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. 17 Now tell us what you think about this: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

18 But Jesus knew their evil motives. “You hypocrites!” he said. “Why are you trying to trap me? 19 Here, show me the coin used for the tax.” When they handed him a Roman coin, 20 he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?”

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

“Well, then,” he said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”

22 His reply amazed them, and they went away.

23 That same day Jesus was approached by some Sadducees—religious leaders who say there is no resurrection from the dead. They posed this question:24 “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies without children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will carry on the brother’s name.’ 25 Well, suppose there were seven brothers. The oldest one married and then died without children, so his brother married the widow. 26 But the second brother also died, and the third brother married her. This continued with all seven of them. 27 Last of all, the woman also died. 28 So tell us, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her.”

29 Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God. 30 For when the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. In this respect they will be like the angels in heaven. 31 But now, as to whether there will be a resurrection of the dead—haven’t you ever read about this in the Scriptures? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ So he is the God of the living, not the dead.”

33 When the crowds heard him, they were astounded at his teaching.


“You don’t know the Scriptures and you don’t know the power of God.” That really stood out to me as I read this passage just now. The people Jesus was talking to here actually did know Scripture quite well, or at least they thought they did. The hypothetical they create for Jesus is based on specific laws in Torah. But they did not know the power of God, which explains their close alliance with the Roman authorities. The Sadducees were thoroughly ‘realistic’ about how to get on in the world, they held no ‘delusions’ about some mythic messiah coming to deliver them from their oppression, so they were making the best of their bad situation. Which is uncomfortably close to how we go about our business much of the time, as if no help is coming, no deliverance or healing or miracle is possible. But when we think that, we not only betray a lack of knowledge of the power of God, we betray a lack of understanding of Scripture as well. Scripture only makes sense as Scripture when read through the lens of the power of God. The Bible is the account of God revealing Godself in love and power to people through the course of human history, leading up to and flowing out of the central revelation of loving power in the person of Jesus. The Sadducees don’t know Scripture because they don’t know the Word of God who is speaking to them. They don’t know the power of God because Jesus has repeatedly demonstrated that power and they have refused to see. When we interpret from Scripture something other than the powerful love of God for all humans, the loving power just waiting to be expressed in each life, we come under the same rebuke as they did. Knowing the Word of God and the Power of God are intrinsically connected, one cannot be understood apart from the other.

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Red Letter Year: 5/15

Matthew 22:1-14

Jesus also told them other parables. He said, “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come!

So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’ But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them.

The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town. And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor. Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’ 10 So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests.

11 But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. 12 ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. 13 Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”


This parable echoes and extends the one from yesterday. Here again, the servants sent out represent the prophets of Israel who received just such treatment: ignored, beaten, or killed. Like the landowner, the king sends troops to deal with those who have spurned his invitation, representing Israel’s history of captivity and occupation. No detail was given about the other farmers who were brought in, but here we get more detail on the alternate guests. They are “everyone they could find, good and bad alike.” It should be our goal to fill our churches with everyone we can find, good and bad alike. And we get one crucial caveat here in the part at the end about the man not wearing a wedding robe. Everyone is invited, everyone can come, but entering in does require a change. The missing wedding robe represents holiness, which must be the active pursuit of every follower of Jesus. We often get into trouble by trying to name specifically what a path to holiness looks like for someone else; it can look very different for each person. Still, every follower of Jesus must be on a path to holiness and seeking out spiritual direction in that quest is a good thing. This does not undo the message of infinite grace from yesterday, because we can only walk a path of holiness by the power of Jesus’ grace. Holiness is an expression of grace and a necessary one. If that thought is new to you, I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to move you forward in holiness, to give you direction – a specific command – about what your next growth point is. The man in the parable is thrown out as much for his speechlessness as for his lack of robe. Don’t stay silent, say, ‘Hey, give me a robe and I’ll put it on so I can stay for the feast.’ That’s the sort of prayer that always gets answered.

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.