1. Jesus responded by telling even more of His special kind of stories, saying,
2. “The Kingdom of/from the heavens is like a king who threw a wedding banquet for his son.
3. He sent out his servants to call in all the invited guests, but they just wouldn't come!
4. Then he sent out another round of servants, instructing them to tell the guests, 'Look, everything is on the table right now…the beef has been butchered, and all the side dishes that go with it have been prepared to perfection. You are invited to come as you are to this amazing feast and celebrate with us!'
5. But these rude and clueless invitees basically shrugged their shoulders, ignoring the opportunity before them, and went off…one to weed his garden, and another to work in his shop.
6. The rest weren’t just indifferent…they were openly hostile and aggressive. For no apparent reason they beat up on the messengers, and then killed them.
7. When the king heard about this he was understandably infuriated, and sent his soldiers to put those ungrateful murderers to death, and to burn down their whole city.
8. Then he said to his servants, “Here we’ve prepared this gorgeous wedding banquet, sparing no expense, but the ones who were initially invited didn’t want our company, insulted our hospitality, and refused to join in our celebration. But we planned a wedding with a party, and so we will have the wedding…and we will have our party!
9. I want you to go out into the busiest intersections in town where all kinds of people interact with one another, and invite anyone and everyone you find to our beautiful banquet!”
10. So the servants took to the streets, searching every highway and back alley, rounding up anyone and everyone they laid eyes on, regardless of who they were, or where they were, or what they were doing at the time. And so the banquet was on, and every seat at the table was filled, as was every available spot on the dance floor, and every corner of the reception hall.
11. But when the king entered the banquet and looked over the whole scene, he saw a man who wasn't properly dressed in the appropriate, traditional attire that a gentleman would normally wear to a wedding feast at that time, in that culture.
12. So he went to him and said, “My friend, what makes you think that just because you were invited to my banquet, you can come in here ignoring protocol and insulting our customs?” The man was completely speechless, and just looked at him, offering no excuse or explanation for this breech of etiquette, as if he had been muzzled or gagged.
13. Then the king said to his servants, “I want him out of here this instant! In fact, just so that he won’t try to come back in and disrupt my celebration, tie him up and make him sit outside in the dark…keep him away from the rest of my guests, so that they will be spared having to see him snarl at them, and grind his teeth in anger simply because they are having a good time, and he was put out of the party."
14. For many in this nation are called…you, as a people, have all been invited, in fact… but out of that great number, relatively few of you are eligible for Kingdom-life.
15. After this the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might entangle Jesus in His talk, causing Him to slip up and say something that they could use against Him.
16. So they sent some of their own disciples to Him, along with a few of Herod's followers mixed in to ask, “Teacher, we know that You have integrity, that You teach the way of God truthfully, regardless of possible consequences, that You are uncompromising in Your ethics, and that You don’t pander to your audience.
17. That being said, tell us what You think about paying taxes…is it lawful to pay the tribute levied on individuals to Caesar or not?”
18. But Jesus replied, “Do you big phonies honestly think that I don’t see through these kinds of bogus questions? Surely you can’t be simple enough to assume that I would be rendered gullible by your empty compliments. That kind of flattery may work on you, but it doesn’t on me…why do you keep trying to trap me with these tired old tricks?
19. All right…I’ll play along with your silly game. Do you have a coin? Let me see it.” They handed him a silver piece.
20. OK…this engraving…whose likeness and image is it? And whose name is on it?"
21. They said, “Caesar's.” Then He said to them, “Well, then, it should be obvious, shouldn’t it? Pay to Caesar the things that are due to Caesar, and pay to God the things that are due to God. It’s that simple.”
22. The Pharisees didn’t have a comeback. Once again the profound simplicity of His words had left them speechless, so they went away shaking their heads.
23. The same day some Sadducees, who say that there is no resurrection of the dead, came to Him with a question of their own.
24. “Teacher”, they began, “Moses said that if a man dies, leaving no children, his brother should marry his widowed sister-in-law, and raise a family for his brother with her.
25. So, let’s say there were seven brothers, and the first married and died, and, having no children, left his wife to his brother.
26. Then, the second brother also died childless, and the third, down to the seventh.
27. Now…stay with us on this…let’s say that, last of all, the woman died also.
28. This is our question…in this scenario, in the resurrection, to which one of the seven brothers will she be wife, since she was married to all of them?”
29. But Jesus replied to them, “Not only is your premise implausible…quite a stretch, to say the least…your entire question is wrong-headed. It exposes a basic flaw in you…that you are ignorant…ignorant of the Scriptures…ignorant of God's power.
30. For in the resurrection, neither men nor women get married, nor are they considered married when they enter the resurrected state…in that sense they are like the angels who live in the heavenly realm.
31. But as to the larger question…the very reality of the resurrection of the dead…have you never read what was declared to you by God, Himself?
32. He clearly said, ‘I AM (not, “I was…”) the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob!’ Don’t you get it? By Him saying I AM their God, He is revealing that He is the living God…not of dead people, but people who are alive!”
33. And when the crowd that had gathered around Him heard these words, His message of life bore witness with them, and they were filled with amazement at His teaching.
34. Now when the Pharisees discovered that He had gotten the best of the Sadducees, as well, they gathered together with them, joining forces for all-out assault.
35. So they chose one of their religion scholars who was a lawyer to speak for them, posing a question to Him that they hoped would finally show Him up.
36. He approached Jesus and said "Teacher…about the commandments…as You well-know, some are light and some are heavy…which command in God's Law is the most important one?”
37. Without missing a beat, Jesus answered, "‘Love the Lord your God with all of your heartfelt passion, your willed intention, and your complete intellect or intelligence.’
38. This is the most important…the one at the top of the list.
39. But there is actually a second one which ranks so high that it is virtually part of the same commandment: 'Love others as unconditionally as you love yourself.’
40. These two commandments (which are three, really, because in the second one is the implied commandment to love yourself…so think of them, in a sense, as ‘three in one’) are like nails (or a nail) in a wall; and everything…and I mean everything…in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them."
41. Now while the Pharisees were still standing there, pondering this and regrouping, Jesus came back at them with a question of His own.
42. He pointedly asked them, "What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?" They said, "He is David's son."
43. Jesus replied, "Well, if the Christ is, indeed, David's Son, then how do you explain that David, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, calls Christ his ‘Lord’?
44. Because he (David) said, ‘God said to my Master’, or, literally ‘The Lord said to my Lord’, sit here at My right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool.’
45. Now if David calls him 'Master’ or ‘Lord’...how can He at the same time be his son?"
46. Once again they were stumped, legalistic literalists that they were. But on this occasion, they finally realized that there was just no way to win one of these Scriptural sparring matches with Jesus. So, reluctantly accepting the fact that all of their trick questions had backfired on them, and, unwilling to continue to risk losing face again in one of these public exchanges, they just quit asking questions for good from that day on.