Jesus Silences his Critics and Disciples
The Gospel lesson for this past Sunday began with the Pharisees plotting how to entangle Jesus in his talk. He had bested the chief priests and the elders (Matt. 21:23-27). In 22:15-22, the Pharisees send their own followers and along with some Herodians (No one knows who the Herodians are for sure). They come with a question about taxes. If Jesus had been running for a political office, his answer would have garnered him one of those ugly black and white ads accompanied by tenuous accusations. “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” He avoided the trap and left his would be entanglers speechless.
Next the Sadducees take a crack at him, with a question about the resurrection. Well, the crowd loved Jesus’ answer and the Sadducees left in silence (22:23-33). God is the God of the living and since God says he is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, how can those patriarchs be said to be dead?
So far Jesus has taken on the clergy, the followers of the middle class Pharisees and the Upper class Sadducees. But the Pharisees have a bit of schadenfreude over the comeuppance Jesus gave the snooty Sadducees. If the Pharisees disciples can’t win the day, then they will just have to do it themselves. They have a lawyer in their midst and he asks a question about which is the greatest commandment (22:34-40). Jesus starts out by saying that love of God is the “great and first commandment” but then adds that loving ones neighbor like one loves oneself, is on equal footing. Love of God is played out in the way we treat our neighbor.
Then Jesus (22:41-46) poses his own question, If the Messiah is the son of David and David called the Messiah Yahweh, how is Yahweh the son of David. They had no answer and from that time on no one dared to ask him any questions.
His disciples had already stopped asking questions (Mark 9:30-32). When Jesus talked about going to Jerusalem and being killed and then rising again in three days, “They did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.” They started talking about who was the greatest of Jesus’ disciples. That they could understand.
Of course everyone did finally have the last word, when they said “Crucify Him.” When he yelled out a loud cry and yielded up his spirit, they were finally able to shut this guy up. Well, shut him up for three days anyway, and then all heaven broke out on Sunday morning when he met the women and said, “Greetings.”
Often people talk about the questions they will have for God in heaven. Maybe we should just stick those questions in our back pocket and say “Thank you, Lord. Nice place you got here, a person could live here forever.”