EXCERPTS FROM THE MINISTRY
VI. BY A LAWYER OF THE PHARISEES
When the Pharisees learned that the Lord had silenced the Sadducees, they held a council about what to do next. Then one of them, a lawyer, tempted the Lord by asking Him a question about the great commandment in the law. A lawyer was one versed in the law of Moses, a professional interpreter of the law of the Old Testament. The Lord said that the great and first commandment was to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind (vv. 37-38). Then He continued, “And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” These two commandments are both a matter of love, either loving God or loving man. Love is the spirit of God’s commandments.
In all these tests the Lord Jesus was questioned regarding four things: religion, politics, belief, and the law. Regarding religion, He was questioned concerning the source of authority in religious activities. Regarding politics, He was asked about paying tribute to the Roman government. Regarding belief, He was questioned about the belief in the resurrection. Regarding the law, He was asked which was the great commandment. From all four directions those who tested the Lord Jesus were muzzled and had nothing more to say.
VII. MUZZLING ALL THE TESTERS
BY THE QUESTION OF QUESTIONS
After He had been questioned, the Lord had a question for the Pharisees. Verses 41 and 42 say, “Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus questioned them, saying, What do you think concerning the Christ? Whose Son is He?” From 21:23 to 22:46, during His last visit to Jerusalem, the center of Judaism, Christ was surrounded by the chief priests, elders, Pharisees, Herodians, Sadducees, and a lawyer, who endeavored to ensnare Him by asking puzzling and crafty questions. Firstly, the chief priests, representing the authority of the Jewish religion, and the elders, representing the authority of the Jewish people, asked Him concerning His authority (21:23). This was a question according to their religious concept. Secondly, the fundamental Pharisees and political Herodians asked Him a question related to politics. Thirdly, the modernistic Sadducees questioned Him concerning the fundamental belief. Fourthly, a self-qualified lawyer asked Him a question concerning the law. After answering all their questions wisely, He asked them a question concerning Christ. This is the question of questions. Their questions were related to religion, politics, belief, and the law. His question was concerning Christ, who is the center of all things. They knew religion, politics, belief, and the law, but they paid no attention to Christ. Hence, He asked them, “What do you think concerning the Christ?” This question of questions must be answered by everyone.
People today have many questions, but all their questions can be classified into the four categories of religion, politics, belief, and the law. Just as in ancient times, people today care for these things, not for Christ. They simply have no concept concerning Him. But God’s concern is for Christ, and Christ’s concern is for Himself. Hence He asks, “What do you think about Christ? Whose Son is He?” This question touches Christ’s Person, which is a mystery, the most perplexing matter in the universe.
Christology is the study of the Person of Christ. From the second century onward, Christian teachers have been fighting with one another concerning Christology. Today the battle between us and the opposers is also related to this matter. For example, one of the leading opposers teaches that Christ is not in us, but is merely represented in us by the Holy Spirit. According to him, Christ is at the right hand of God in the third heaven, and the Holy Spirit represents Him in us. This concept is related to tritheism, the teaching that the three of the Godhead are separate individuals. Those who teach that Christ is merely represented in us by the Holy Spirit actually have three Gods. Deep within, many fundamental Christians subconsciously have this concept. Recently, some opposers have said that Christ’s divinity is in the believers, but His humanity is in heaven. How ridiculous! Now some not only have three Gods, but two Christs, a material Christ and a spiritual Christ. Such peculiar concepts are the issue of our fallen mentality. What a dreadful thing to separate Christ’s humanity from His divinity! This illustrates the fact that the question regarding Christ is still the question of questions today.
When the Pharisees were asked this question by the Lord, they replied that Christ was David’s son (v. 42). No doubt, according to the Scriptures, this answer was correct. Then the Lord said, “How then does David in spirit call Him Lord, saying, The Lord said to My Lord, Sit on My right hand until I put Your enemies underneath Your feet? If then David calls Him Lord, how is He his Son?” (vv. 43-45). The question here is how a great-grandfather could call his great-grandson Lord. This was one question the Pharisees did not know how to answer. As God, in His divinity, Christ is the Lord of David; as a man, in His humanity, He is the Son of David. The Pharisees had only half the scriptural knowledge concerning Christ’s Person, that He was the Son of David according to His humanity. They did not have the other half, concerning Christ’s divinity as the Son of God. The mention of the spirit in verse 43 indicates that Christ is only known by us in our spirit through God’s revelation (Eph. 3:5, Gk.).
Verse 46 says, “And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone from that day dare to question Him any more.” Christ’s question of questions concerning His wonderful Person muzzled the mouths of all His opposers. The Pharisees had studied the Old Testament, and they had seen clearly that Christ was to be the Son of David. But they did not see that Christ was also the Son of God.
Even those who have admitted that Christ is both the Son of God and the Son of David have argued whether His two natures were separate or mingled. Instead of arguing about Christ’s Person, we should say, “Hallelujah, we have a Person who is glorious and mysterious! He is so wonderful that we cannot adequately understand Him.” Consider Isaiah 9:6: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given...and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” It will take eternity for us to understand this verse. Christ is a child, yet He is the mighty God. He is the Son, yet He is called the everlasting Father. Do not think that we can understand Christ adequately today. No, He is too wonderful and too far beyond our comprehension. We do not even fully understand ourselves, much less Christ. Do you know where your spirit is, or where your soul is? Can you locate your heart? The more you analyze yourself, the more you will find yourself in a maze. When I was very young, I thought I knew myself thoroughly. But the longer I have lived, the more I realize how little I know. If we cannot understand ourselves, how can we adequately understand Christ, the embodiment of the Triune God?
How wonderful Christ is! He is both God and man, both the Son of God and the Son of David. Furthermore, He is both in the heavens and in us. He is inside and outside; He is on the top and on the bottom; He is the greatest and the smallest. Oh, Christ is everything! We need to know Him to such a degree. Then we shall say, “Lord Jesus, I cannot exhaust the knowledge of You. Lord, You are the only worthy One. If there is a God, this God must be You. If there is a genuine human being, this person must be You. Lord, You are the Savior, the Redeemer, the life, and the light.” We today must come to know how inexhaustible the Lord Jesus is as the Son of David and the Son of God. Both the experience of Him and the knowledge of Him are inexhaustible. Because Christ is the all-inclusive One, the enjoyment of Him is inexhaustible.
Do not be led into the devilish snare of debate concerning the Person of Christ. Thinking you know everything concerning Christ’s Person is an indication that you have been snared already. Although we can know Christ, we cannot understand Him thoroughly. We know that Jesus Christ is the Son and that He is also called the Father, for the Bible tells us so. But we cannot comprehend this adequately. We also know that Christ is the Son of God and the Son of man and that He has both the divine nature and the human nature in one Person. Thus, He is one Person with two natures and two lives. However, it is beyond our ability to understand this thoroughly. We simply believe whatever the Bible says and praise Him for being so wonderful! We need to worship Him, take Him in, enjoy Him, and experience Him as the wonderful One.
(Life-Study of Matthew, Chapter 59, Section 2)
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