Obeying the Law but Hating Jesus

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as recorded by the apostle Matthew. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses fifteen through thirty-three of the twenty-first chapter. When you come to this particular passage of scripture you will find the apostle Matthew transitioning from the parables which Jesus spoke concerning the kingdom of heaven being likened unto a king who prepared a wedding supper for his son and sent his sergeants out to invite the guests to now speaking once more concerning the religious system that was present within the city of Jerusalem. In this second portion of the twenty-second chapter of the gospel according to Matthew you will find a familiar theme that has been present within and during the life and ministry of Jesus Christ since the ninth chapter. If you take the time to read the New Testament gospel of Matthew you will find that Jesus’ greatest opposition came not within the supernatural and spiritual realm from evil spirits and demonic forces. The New Testament gospel of Matthew does not paint a picture of demonic forces rising up in a fury of rage and vengeance towards and against Jesus during the three and a half years He taught and preached among those living in Judaea, Jerusalem and the surrounding cities, towns and villages. We do not find the demonic forces of darkness and Evil spirits rising up in staunch opposition toward and against Jesus, nor against His disciples. We would expect the greatest opposition toward and against Jesus to come from such forces of darkness, and yet this simply is not the case. Jesus didn’t face continual threats from evil spirits and demonic forces of darkness in the earth, but rather from the religious system and community that was present within the city of Jerusalem. As you read and study the New Testament gospel of Matthew you will quickly find that the greatest opposition to the life and ministry of Jesus Christ came not from the places you would naturally expect and anticipate, for they would come from within and among that which claimed to walk in obedience to the law of Moses and the commands of God.

OBEYING THE LAW BUT HATING JESUS! OBEYING THE LAW BUT OPPOSING JESUS! TEACHING THE LAW BUT CRITICIZING JESUS! The more you read and study this New Testament gospel the more you will be brought face to face with the tremendous reality that Jesus’ greatest opposition came from those who taught the law of Moses unto the children of Israel. The greatest opposition towards and against Jesus came from those who claimed to walk in obedience to the commands and laws which were given unto Moses rather than from the forces of darkness and from evil spirits. It is absolutely undeniable and unmistakable when reading the New Testament gospel of Matthew that the greatest source of opposition, the greatest source of strife and the greatest source of contention toward and against Jesus came from the very system that claimed they were pleading the living God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Please don’t miss the tremendous significance and importance of this reality, for it confronts something that has plagued and haunted Jesus’ church for centuries. If you read and study the New Testament gospels of the life and ministry of Jesus, and if you read the New Testament gospel of Acts you will find that what began with Jesus during those days He walked upon the earth would carry on and continue during the days His disciples and apostles carried on the command concerning the early church. If you read the opening chapters of the New Testament gospel of Acts you will find that the same religious system and the same religious community which opposed Jesus during those days He walked and talked upon the earth was the same religious system that opposes the continued work which was manifested among and in the midst of His disciples. The same system which opposes and sought to silence and destroy Jesus when He walked upon the earth was the same system which stood to oppose His disciples when they sought to carry out and fulfill His work in the midst of His church when it was brought into existence on the day of Pentecost by the Holy Spirit.

As I have set out to read and study the New Testament gospels concerning the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, as well as to read and study the New Testament book of Acts concerning His body which remained on the earth to carry out His work, I have come to recognize and understand that the greatest source of opposition toward and against the life and ministry of Jesus, as well as His body which remained upon the earth cane through the religious system which claimed to uphold the laws, the commands, the statutes, and the regulations of the law of Moses. The greatest source of strife and contention within, towards and against the life and ministry of Jesus Christ came directly from the religious system, and I am convinced that it was through the religious system that we encounter the voice of the accuser, as well as the voice of the tempter. What’s more, is that as we read and study the New Testament gospel of Matthew we find that what began in the wilderness with the devil coming to Jesus in order that He might tempt Him would be carried on and continued during the days of His earthly life and ministry through the religious system. It would be within and through the religious system and community that was present during the days of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ that the same voice which sought to tempt Jesus in the wilderness would be present. What’s more, is that not only do we find the same voice and presence which sought to tempt Jesus in the wilderness rising up in the midst of the religious system, but we find within that same religious system the voice of the accuser as the adversary and enemy would rise up against Jesus in the midst of the very system which claimed to uphold the law of Moses. I have to admit that I am absolutely and completely amazed that the greatest opposition toward and against Jesus came not from the evil spirits, the demonic forces of darkness, and from within the supernatural and spiritual realm. The greatest source of opposition toward and against Jesus came not from those individuals who were oppressed and possessed by evil spirits and demons, but from the religious system and community that was present in the midst of the earth during that time. The combination of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, as well as the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of the people of Israel formed a powerful source of opposition toward and against Jesus the Christ within and during His earthly ministry—an opposition that pretty much began immediately after He finished His Sermon on the Mount as great multitudes of people gathered themselves before and unto Him. The greatest source of opposition and conflict toward and against Jesus the Christ, as well as His disciples came from those who were teaching in the Temple, those who were teaching in the synagogues, and those who were responsible for teaching others the laws, the commands and the statutes found within the law of Moses.

I am convinced that in order for us to truly understand that which is taking place here within the twenty-second chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew, we must once more turn and direct our attention to the various means and methods of opposition toward and against Jesus by, through and from the religious community. I fully realize and recognize that thus far within this study of the New Testament gospels we have visited this opposition already, however, I am convinced that the opposition which rose up against Jesus did not happen overnight, but rather progressively reached the point where it not only questioned the life, the ministry and the teaching of Jesus, but also sought to accuse, condemn and judge both Jesus and His disciples. We must recognize and understand that the religious system didn’t merely seek to accuse, judge and condemn Jesus the Christ Himself, but also His disciples who made the decision to leave everything and follow Him. The Pharisees, the scribes, the Sadducees, and the elders of the people all sought to vehemently oppose Jesus within, during and throughout His earthly ministry, and would eventually reach the point and place where they would not only seek to trap and ensnare Him in His words, but would also seek to destroy Him. There would come a point during the life and ministry of Jesus when the religious system and community would not only seek to vehemently oppose Him, but would also seek to completely and utterly destroy Him from the midst of the land, and completely remove Him from the equation. For the Pharisees, for the Sadducees, for the scribes, and for the religious system during that day, Jesus not only threatened their traditions and regulations, but Jesus also threatened to unravel and undo everything they had built among and in the midst of the people. Please don’t miss the awesome and tremendous significance of this reality, for it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand it if we are going to truly understand what is taking place within the twenty-second chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew. It’s in the twenty-second chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew where we not only find the Pharisees joining forces with the Herodians to trap and ensnare Jesus in His words, but we also find the Sadducees—those who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead—following on the heels of what the Pharisees and Herodians did in order that they might ensnare and trap Jesus the Christ.

Before we get into the various means and methods the religious system sought to use in order to completely and utterly destroy Jesus Christ from the earth, we must once more turn and direct our attention two distinct passages found within Scripture—one which requires us to look back in the Old Testament in the book of Job, and the other which requires us to look forward to the final book of the New Testament, which is the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Consider if you will what is found in the first two chapters of the Old Testament prophetic book of Job concerning Satan and his vehement opposition towards Job within the earth, and his inciting the living God toward and against him. Consider if you will the devil’s accusation against Job as found and recorded in the Old Testament book of Job, for it was that accusation which incited the Lord against Job within and upon the earth. After reading concerning Job and the voice of the accuser which sought to destroy Him, it is necessary that we turn and direct our attention to the New Testament book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ and to that which followed war in heaven, for after that one who deceived all humanity was cast down to the earth, we read of another tactic of the enemy and adversary—namely, accusing the saints of God night and day before the throne of God. Consider if you will these three passages before we then look into the various means and methods the religious system which existed during Jesus’ day sought to accomplish toward and against Jesus:

“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord” (Job 1:6-12).

“Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the Lord said unto Satan, hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? And still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause. And Satan answered the Lord, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give thee for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life. So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes. Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God, and die. But he said unto her. Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh? What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (Job 2:1-10).

“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame Him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was worth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:7-17).

It is clear from these three passages—not only that Satan sought to accuse Job before the throne of God when he came and appeared before the Lord with the sons of God, but we also find in the final New Testament book of the Bible that Satan still sought to accuse the saints of God. What’s more, is that in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ—not only do we find and read concerning Satan accusing the brethren, but we find Satan accusing the brethren day and night before the living God. What I so love about the New Testament book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ is that while it is true that Satan sought to accuse the saints of God both night and day before the throne, there is coming a point in time when Satan will be cast forth out of heaven and will no longer have access to the throne of God to accuse the saints of God night and day. What’s more, is the simple fact that one of the greatest tactics and strategies of the enemy and adversary has always, and still is to this day to accuse the saints of God before the throne of God—and not only accusing them, but accusing them both night and day. When we read and study the life and ministry of Jesus Christ in the New Testament gospel of Matthew we find this same voice of the accuser present among the religious system which was present during the days of Jesus, for the religious system and community sought to ensnare and entrap Jesus in His words in order that they might have grounds to accuse Him. What’s more, is that you will find that this voice of the accuser will be present during the life and ministry of Jesus Christ—all the way up until the moment in time when He would stand trial before the Sanhedrin within the city of Jerusalem. The voice of the accuser would be present within and throughout the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, and would be found present within His life as He stood trial before the Sanhedrin after being betrayed into the hands of the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people of Israel. We dare not miss the tremendous significance and importance of this very reality, for to do so would be to miss that which sought to destroy Jesus Christ from within the earth. It wasn’t the demonic forces of darkness as present within the lives of those who were oppressed and possessed by evil spirits which sought to destroy Jesus, but the religious system itself which sought to utterly and completely destroy Jesus the Christ from within the earth. In fact, when you read the second portion of this particular chapter within the New Testament gospel of Matthew you will find the apostle Matthew writing something very specific concerning the Pharisees, for in the fifteenth verse the apostle Matthew writes how the Pharisees went and took counsel how they might entangle Him in His talk. In order to entangle Jesus in His speech and in His talk, they sent unto Him their disciples, as well as the Herodians with a very specific question—a question concerning and regarding that which belonged to Caesar and that which belonged to God.

When the Pharisees sent forth their disciples together with the Herodians unto Jesus, they did so in order that they might entangle Jesus concerning that which belonged unto the government during that day. It’s worth noting, mentioning and pointing out that when the disciples of the Pharisees, together with the Herodians came unto Jesus the Christ, they came unto him questioning giving unto Caesar that which was asked and demanded by him of those who dwelt and lived in the earth during that time. When the disciples of the Pharisees came unto Jesus together with the Herodians, they came unto Jesus speaking concerning whether or not it was lawful to give tribute unto Caesar. When this contingent came forth unto Jesus from the Pharisees themselves, they came unto Him with one single and very specific mission—to entangle and ensnare Him in His talk. They came unto Jesus in order that they might trap Him in His words concerning whether or not it was lawful to pay tribute unto Caesar. If Jesus heard and listened to their question and responded by declaring that it was not lawful to give unto Caesar that which belonged unto him, they would have grounds to accuse Jesus before the Romans, and emphatically declare that He resisted and opposed paying tribute unto Caesar. Oh, we must carefully consider this, for what would and could begin with entangling Jesus in His words and in His talk could ultimately and invariably lead to His being accused before the Romans concerning matters of paying tribute unto Caesar. It wasn’t enough for the Pharisees to merely trap Jesus in His words, for if they were somehow successful in trapping Jesus in His words, they could then take that reality and bring it before and unto the Romans and accuse Jesus before them. In fact, as you continue reading the New Testament gospel of Matthew you will find that even when Jesus stood on trial before the Sanhedrin, He did not stand trial based on facts, but rather, he stood on trial on false accusations which were lobbied against Him by those who sought to destroy Him from the midst of the earth. One of the greatest realities concerning the life and ministry of Jesus Christ is that not only did He find Himself facing temptation within and from the religious system and community of that day, but Jesus would also find Himself being accused by the religious system and community during that day. In this particular chapter within the New Testament gospel of Matthew we find the Pharisees seeking to entangle and ensnare Jesus in His speech and in His talk in order that they might have grounds to accuse Him. What would ultimately culminate in false accusation when Jesus actually stood on trial before the Sanhedrin would begin with the Pharisees and the religious system seeking to ensnare and entangle Jesus in and with His speech. It’s important to recognize and realize that the Pharisees and the religious system first sought to find legitimate grounds with which to accuse Him in the land—something that would never actually take place, for Jesus would and could never allow Himself to be entangled in his speech or in His talk.

DISCERNING THE VOICE OF THE ACCUSER! DISCERNING THE VOICE OF JUDGMENT AND CONDEMNATION! Perhaps one of the most important realities to recognize when reading the New Testament gospel of Matthew is Jesus’ uncanny ability to recognize and discern when the Pharisees and religious system and community sought to accuse Him based on the words which He spoke. What’s more, is that not only did the Pharisees seek to accuse Jesus based on the words He spoke, but they would also seek to accuse Jesus based on the works which He performed among men within and upon the earth. The Pharisees weren’t merely concerned with the words which Jesus spoke when speaking unto and teaching the crowds and multitudes, but they were also concerned with the works which He performed among men—namely, His bringing healing to those who desperately needed healing within their physical bodies. In fact, beginning with the ninth chapter we read concerning the accusation and judgment of the Pharisees toward and against Jesus—accusation and judgment which would continue within and throughout the life and ministry of Jesus all the way up to the moment He would hang half naked and half dead upon the cross of Calvary. Consider if you will that which is found in the ninth chapter of this New Testament gospel beginning with the ninth verse of the chapter:

“And as Jesus passed forth from thence, He saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and He saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed Him. And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto His disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, He said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Matthew 9:9-13).

As you continue within the New Testament gospel of Matthew—specifically within the twelfth chapter—you will find a second example of the voice of the accuser being present within and among the religious community, as this time the Pharisees did not seek to accuse Jesus, but rather, sought to accuse His disciples. Beginning with the first verse of the twelfth chapter we find and read the following words concerning the disciples of Jesus and the Pharisees who sought to accuse them before Jesus:

“At that time Jesus went on the Sabbath day through the corn; and His disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto Him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the Sabbath day. But He said unto them, have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; how he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day” (Matthew 12:1-8).

Notice what Jesus said towards the end of His response unto the Pharisees after they sought to accuse His disciples before Him, for in His closing remarks to them, He declared that if they had known what it means “I will have mercy and not sacrifice,” they would not have condemned the guiltless. This is absolutely and incredibly necessary for us to pay close attention to and recognize, for it brings us face to face with the awesome and tremendous reality of that which the religious system truly does in fact seek to do unto and among the saints of God—namely, accuse and condemn them before the throne of God, and even before Jesus the Christ. The Pharisees sought to accuse and condemn the disciples of Jesus the Christ in order that they might find grounds to completely and utterly destroy Jesus the Christ based on the actions of His disciples. What’s more, is that if you continue reading in the twelfth chapter you will again find the Pharisees continuing this act of seeking to entrap and ensnare Jesus in His words and actions, for this time they sought to accuse and condemn Him based on good works and good deeds before the Father in heaven. Beginning with the ninth verse of the twelfth chapter we find the following words written and recorded by the apostle Matthew:

“And when He was departed thence, He went into their synagogue: and, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? That they might accuse him. And He said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. Then saith He to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other” (Matthew 12:9-13).

Immediately after and immediately following these two instances within the twelfth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew we find something written concerning the Pharisees which up to this point had not been mentioned. If you being reading with and from the fourteenth verse, you will find that the Pharisees now conspired together how they might destroy Jesus and completely remove Him from the picture. In the fourteenth verse you will find the following words: “Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against Him, how they might destroy Him. But when Jesus. Knew it, He withdrew Himself from thence: and great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all; and charged them that they should not make Him known” (Matthew 12:14-15). In the fifteenth chapter of this same New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ we again find the Pharisees seeking to accuse the disciples of Jesus, for this time they sought to accuse them based on violating the traditions of the elders by not washing their hands when they eat bread. As we continue to read the New Testament gospel of Matthew we continue to find the Pharisees seeking to utterly and completely destroy Jesus, and accusing both He and His disciples at that time based on the works they did, based on that which they did not do, and based on the words which He spoke. It’s worth noting and pointing out that not only did the Pharisees seek to accuse and condemn Jesus based on the words which He spoke, and the works which He performed, but when it came to His disciples, they sought to accuse them—not based on the words which they spoke, but rather based on their actions, and that which they supposedly and did not do which was an apparent violation of the tradition of the elders. What we find within the New Testament gospel of Matthew is a tremendous picture of how the voice of the accuser was found to be present within the religious system and community during that time, and how the voice of the accuse sought to condemn the guiltless and the innocent in order that it might utterly and completely destroy them. When we come to the twenty-second chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew we continue to find the religious system seeking to ensnare and entrap Jesus in His words and in His speech in order that they might legitimately have grounds to accuse Him before the Sanhedrin, and thus also have grounds to put Him to death. Ultimately, this is what the voice of the accuser can and will seek to do in the midst of the Church, for it will always seek to silence the voice of Jesus, completely remove Him from the midst, and even to silence the voice of His disciples and accuse them before both Jesus and the throne of God. I am completely and utterly convinced that there is a great need to discern the voice of the accuser, as well as the voice of the tempter in order that we might understand exactly what the adversary is seeking to do in order that he might destroy us within and upon the earth. Oh that we would read that which is found in the twenty-second chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew and completely and utterly understand how the religious spirit is in full operation and seeks to completely and utterly destroy the saints of God, and silence the voice of Jesus from among us in our midst.

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