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Bible Studies

Matthew, Mark and Luke
Lesson 21
Jesus Debates with the Religious Leaders

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Reading assignment for this lesson: Matthew 22:1-46, 23:1-39, Mark 12:13-44, Luke 10:25-28, 11:37-52, 13:34-35, 20:20-47, 21:1-4

While Jesus continued to teach in the temple, the religious leaders looked for a reason to arrest Him. They made several attempts to trap Him into either saying something blasphemous or something to incite rebellion against the Roman occupation. But Jesus easily deflected these attempts to trap him. Jesus went on to severely denounce these religious leader for their sinful lives and corruption of Judaism.

1. Questions 1 - 2 refer to the question of paying Roman taxes (Matthew 22:15-22, Mark 12:13-17, Luke 20:20-26). The Pharisees opposed the unpopular Roman occupation of their homeland and the paying of taxes to Rome. The Herodians were apparently a political party that supported Roman rule and advocated return of the Herodian family to power. (Rule of the Herods over Palestine had ended in 6 A.D.) These two unlikely allies conspired to ask Jesus a question that would cause Him trouble no matter how He answered.
a) What would happen if Jesus answered that it was lawful to pay taxes to Rome?
b) What would happen if Jesus answered that it was not lawful to pay taxes to Rome?

2. a) How did Jesus avoid the trap that was set for Him?
b) How has Jesus' answer shaped Christian attitudes toward government? (See Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13-17.)

3. Next , the Sadducees, who didn't believe in the eventual resurrection of the dead, took a turn at trying to trap Jesus. They asked a tongue-in-cheek question they thought would prove the absurdity of the resurrection (Matthew 22:23-33 Mark 12:18-27 Luke 20:27-40). The Bible does not tell a lot about what to expect in eternal life, but Jesus' answer to the Sadducees gives some clues. What things did Jesus reveal about eternal life in his answer? (See Daniel 12:2-3; Isaiah 26:19, John 5:25-29, 1 Corinthians 15:35-50.)

4. Jesus said the most important two commandments are "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind" and "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-34, Luke 10:25-28).
a) What did Jesus mean by "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:40)? (See Psalms 103:1-5, John 14:21, Romans 13:8-10, Galatians 5:13-14
b) Are these two commandments all that is required to enter the kingdom of God and inherit eternal life? (See Mark 12:34, Luke 10:25, 28, Luke 18:25-27, John 3:3, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, 13:13, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 5:21-26, 1 John 4:19-21.)

5. The religious leaders believed the Messiah would be a descendant of King David (a "son" of David). They also believed the Messiah would be a man sent by God, but still just a man. They denied that the Messiah would be a divine being. How did Jesus use the prophecy of the Messiah in Psalms 110:1-7 to show the fallacy of their belief? (See Matthew 22:41-46, Mark 12:35-37, Luke 20:41-44.)

6. Jesus denounced the religious leaders severely (Matthew 23:1-36, Mark 12:37-40, Luke 11:37-52, 20:45-47). What characteristics or traits did they exhibit that prompted Jesus' denunciation? Explain.

7. How might Jesus' attack on the religious establishment of Israel have served to ensure that God's plan was carried out? (See Matthew 26:3-5, John 19:10-11, Luke 23:33-34.)

8. What did Jesus mean by, "See, your house is left to you, desolate" in His lament over the unfaithfulness of the people of Jerusalem? (See Matthew 23:37-39, Luke 13:34-35, Ezekiel 7:22-25, Matthew 24:1-2, Mark 13:1-2.)

9. In the story of the widow's gift (Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4), why did Jesus consider the widow's small offering to be of more value than the large offerings of the rich people? (See Matthew 6:1-4, Romans 12:6-8.)

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