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A Diagnosis of the Christ-Rejecters B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
July 29, 2021 4:00 am

A Diagnosis of the Christ-Rejecters B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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Verse 19, and the scribes and the chief priests tried to lay hands on Him that very hour. If they had their way, they would have taken Him right there, right then on the spot. So what you've got here is a kind of impotent rage.

They want Him dead, but they must protect their own positions. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur. I'm your host, Phil Johnson. It can be an awkward and difficult thing to do. It can divide churches, friendships, even families. But you must confront false teaching, especially when it's coming from your own church.

But what's the most effective way to do that? How did Jesus do it? John MacArthur examines the why and how of dealing with doctrinal error as he continues his study titled, How to Talk to a Heretic. If you have your Bible, turn to the book of Daniel and here's John. Now there are a lot of ways that you could break this text down to understand it, but I think what perhaps is most direct is to look at it as a complex of sins and call it a diagnosis of the Christ rejecters. Do a little bit of spiritual pathology, looking into those specific sins that characterized their efforts. Let's begin with the sin of hatred in verse 19.

That was the dominant reality. They hated Jesus. Verse 19, and the scribes and the chief priests tried to lay hands on Him that very hour. If they had their way, they would have taken Him right there, right then on the spot.

So what you've got here is a kind of impotent rage. They hate Him so much. Their hatred is at the fever pitch.

They want Him dead, but they must protect their own positions because they fear the people. Jesus describes their hatred and a second sin, their pride...their pride. In that statement in verse 19, they feared the people because the people understood that He was telling them a parable about them, that they were the ones He said were killers of the Son of God. They feared the people. What do you mean they feared the people? They feared that they would lose the people's esteem, trust.

So they have to turn the attitude of the people. That leads them to a third sin in this complex of sins, hypocrisy. They have to play their game, the game at which they were so adept, the game of hypocrisy. All false religious leaders are hypocrites, then and now and always, and they are masters at their disguise. So verse 20 says, they watched Him, surveillance. What are they looking for? They sent spies who pretended to be righteous in order that they might catch Him in some statement so as to deliver Him up to the rule and authority of the governor.

The end of the whole plan was to get Him to pilot the Roman governor who represented Caesar. So they're looking for their moment. Leads us to the fourth sin, flattery. Eventually they find their moment, verse 21, and they questioned Him saying...notice how they set Him up with flattery...teacher. That word was reserved for only the highest of rabbis. They're elevating Him.

It must have been painful for them to do this. They hate Him, but they say what they think they need to say. And there are two reasons they talk the way they talk. One, they want to elevate Jesus in His own mind to make Him feel proud so that He'll try to act in a way that's consistent with what they've said. Secondly, they want to show that they agree with the people because this is how the people thought about it. Teacher, people thought He was a teacher and an astute one at that. We know you speak and teach correctly, that was the popular view. You're getting the popular view right here. They're telling us what conventional wisdom was, what the people thought. You speak and teach correctly, you're not partial to anyone, but teach the way of God in truth. This is absolute flattery.

This is intended to destroy. This is also true, right? Everything they said is true. He is the teacher. He does speak and teach correctly. He is not partial to anyone and He does teach the way of God in truth and nothing else. That is true.

That was also the way people were viewing Him. You speak and teach correctly, that's orthos in Greek, orthos, I mention that word because from that word we get orthopedic, it simply means straight or upright. We also get the word orthodox which really comes from two words, orthos and doxology or doxa, giving right honor to God. You speak orthodox truth.

You are not partial to anyone. Matthew's text, a little variant, literally says in the Greek, you look not into the face of men. In other words, you don't adjust your message by the kind of response you're getting or who you're talking to. You don't equivocate because of human opinion or consequence. All this is absolutely true. They don't believe it.

This is the popular idea but it's also the truth. And then they come to their high point, you teach the way of God in teach the way of God in truth. Hypocritical haters, proud, all they want to do is flatter Jesus, elevate His ego so that He'll be forced to do something consistent with the way they've portrayed Him openly and publicly so He doesn't lose face, He doesn't lose the reputation they've just established for Him. Having been publicly flattered and publicly pumped up in His ego so high, He's not going to want to contradict that exalted commendation. So they're putting Him in a place where He's going to be forced to give Him a straight answer, a straight answer that they think is consistent with God.

And they know that that straight answer is what the people would all say and that if He wants to win the people, He's going to have to say it too. Now connected to the sin of hypocrisy and flattery is the sin of deception, that's the fifth one, verse 22. Here comes the question.

I wonder how long it took them to come up with this question. That's really brilliant from their viewpoint, the best they could have done. Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Now remember, they came pretending to be righteous, verse 20. But verse 23, Luke says, but He detected their trickery. So we come to the fifth sin, deception...deception. They want Him to make an anti-Rome statement.

Then they're going to report Him, have Him arrested and the Romans will execute Him because He has such a massive following. The greatest honor that you could ever pay an esteemed teacher was to ask Him a question. That was the greatest honor you could ever pay was to ask a question, maybe a hard question and particularly a question about the Law of God.

That's what this is. Is it lawful, not in terms of Roman Law, but is it lawful in terms of the Law of God? Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?

In their minds, there's only one answer biblically, no. They know that the people would say, no, we are being forced to pay taxes to Caesar. We should not be paying taxes of the grain and the oil and the wine and the land and the income that God gives us in God's own land, this land and all that it produces belongs to God and we should not be giving this to a Gentile idolatrous occupying power, oppressing God's people with no right to God's land.

The people would uniformly rise up and say, no, it is not lawful but we are forced to do it. The Jews, by the way, hated paying taxes to Rome, not only because they hated to part with the money, but because they hated to give it to pagans, idolaters, occupiers. The word here, taxes, plural, general word, pharos, just a general word for tax, there were lots of them. There was a land tax, one-tenth of the grain, one-fifth of the oil and the wine, an import tax, every harbor, every border and every city gate.

There was a tariff on any goods going through. They hated paying taxes to Rome because Rome was a blasphemous, idolatrous and godless people. So that conviction about that smoldered in the hearts of the people because that was the daily routine, consistent, constant reminder of the reality of Roman occupation and idolatry. The Jews saw genuinely taxation by Rome as treason against God, the true and only King of Israel. Now the leaders were sure that Jesus would have to give the popular view that when He's asked, should we pay taxes to Caesar? And He's just been told that you only speak the truth of God, you only speak correctly orthodox and you don't care what the results are, they've got Him painted into a corner.

And as soon as He says what He has to say, no, it's not right to do that, it's against the Law of God, they will dispatch the Herodians to the Romans, the Romans will come and see Him with a massive crowd and assuming that He is spreading this kind of thing and another insurrection is about to be launched, they will arrest Him and at the moment that they arrest Him, everybody will know that He is not the Messiah for sure because He is now a victim of the same Gentiles. And so they put Him into that position. He detected their trickery. Matthew says He perceived their wickedness. Luke calls it trickery.

Matthew goes behind the trickery to the wickedness that motivated it. He knew what was in them. How did He know their trickery? Because He knew what was in them. John 2.25, He knew what was in the heart of man, He's God.

And He puts it on display. Verse 24, He said to them, show Me a denarius, probably would have had to find one somewhere in the crowd because the Jews didn't like to carry them. They were Roman coins and it was like having a little idol in your pocket.

And there was no idolatry in Israel after the Babylonian captivity, historically. They carried copper coins and Hebrew shekels, you've heard that word. They didn't like to carry Roman coins. Denarius is basically a days wage coin, valuable coin, made out of silver sometimes, or gold. They were used between, well, 300 B.C.

to 300 A.D., about 600 years, six centuries. They were minted by the emperor and depending on who was the emperor, they had his image on it. So all the long line of Caesars had their faces on the coins that were minted during their own reign. They bore the engraved image of the emperor on one side and then the inscriptions and identifying information on the other side. And as I said, the Jews didn't carry them because they were little idols. But Jesus said, find Me one, show Me one. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?

Everybody knew the answer to that. Caesars! And I'm sure at this moment that the spies and the questioners that are there, and probably the rest have managed to show up, not just the spies, they're all there now, are rubbing their hands thinking He's going down this path just like we thought He would. He's identifying them as belonging to Caesar, therefore blasphemous and idolatrous. And by the way, Augustus Caesar had coins minted in 17 B.C., identifying himself as the Son of God, which made those coins particularly repulsive to the Jews. Tiberius Caesar had coins designating himself as High Priest of God. Well since Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, and since He claimed to be the mediator between men and God, certainly He, if He is the true Messiah and the true prophet of God, sees these blasphemous idol coins for what they really are.

Really a clever plan. But they didn't expect His answer, verse 25, and He said to them, then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's. Folks, the profundity of that should not be lost in its simplicity. Somebody said, well does this mean pay your tax? It is way beyond that. But the answer is yes.

It is way beyond that. Tiber is the Greek verb apodate, meaning to give back because it is owed, because it belongs, return, restore. There are some things in this world that belong to this world. There are some things in this world that belong to the earth that are earthly. There are some things that belong in the providence of God to the temporal realm.

Do your temporal duty. Under God's providence in history, the divine God Himself had brought Israel under Roman rule. God had brought them there. Caesar is their earthly king. Caesar is their earthly ruler and they must support his rule because all government is ordained by God. Romans 13, powers that be are ordained by God and they don't carry the sword for nothing. Government is ordained to protect the innocent, punish the evil. And the Romans did that.

They were powerful militarily and they produced peace and security and protection and great roads and shipping channels and added to the prosperity of life. This had value and you paid for that. We understand that. We live in two realms as Christians. We live in a worldly realm and we are obligated and we owe to that worldly realm what belongs to that worldly realm. And in the providence of God, we happen to be the United States of America and if they want my tax money to provide the highways and fix the bridges and do the rest, then that's their right. And this is a world that I live in. Is it Christ honoring, God exalting?

No. But it's not supposed to be. The payment of our tax set by earthly government, even idolatrous, blasphemous, communist, oppressive, autocratic kinds of governments. Even those that are pagan, even those that are about to execute the Son of God are still government established by God and we owe them the debt that belongs to them. First Peter, honor the King, submit to everybody who is in authority over you.

I don't care whether it's a democracy and a congress, or local authorities, police, or a communist dictator, or a Caesar. Caesar has his sphere by God's design and we owe what we owe in the providence of God. What that government requires is what we pay. Jesus affirms the role of government, the right of government to collect taxes for its support because it is ordained by God for man's well-being and protection and without it you have anarchy, chaos and destruction. You say, well what about when the government asks you to do what God forbids, or when the government forbids you to do what God asks? Then you come to an Acts 5.29 issue and you say, you judge whether we obey God or men.

If they tell me to stop preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, then I say, I'm sorry, I have a higher command than that, that's where the two intersect, I obey God, do with me what you will. Since the end of the Old Testament theocratic kingdom and until the establishment of the future theocratic kingdom of Christ when He returns to set up His kingdom on earth, there is no sacral society, there is no sacred society. We live in two worlds, we are citizens of this temporal world and a human government while at the same time citizens of the Kingdom of God under the rule of God Himself and Christ. The church is not to take over civil government. The church is not to rebel against civil government. The church is not to become the critic of civil government.

Neither by war, by civil disobedience, or by political power are we supposed to control civil government. This is not a sacral society. This is not a theocratic kingdom. America is not, neither is any other earthly nation. To Caesar what's Caesar's and thank God that providentially you are under a government that you are under because there are some far, far worse in places of the world and through history than this.

But whatever it is, we are known as good citizens. That is the message of the Apostle Paul to Timothy and to Titus, if you remember. More importantly than that, however, though, and this is the message he's directing at them, one more gracious, kind, merciful invitation and to God, the things that are God's. Why will you not give to God what is His?

What is His? Your soul, right? Your soul, your eternal being, just like you owe certain things to the government, you owe certain things to God.

You owe the government what the government owns and they will tell you what they own by the laws that they impose. You owe to God what God owns. And what does God own? God owns you. God owns you. He's saying to them, why don't you bow your knee to the greater, more important, ultimate throne, give honor to God. God is owed worship, praise, adoration, glory, obedience, love, trust, giving my life, everything.

They were not giving God what God commanded, their hearts, their souls, their lives. The coin belongs to Caesar. You belong to God. The coin has Caesar's image. You have God's image.

The coin is Caesar's. You are God's. That was his invitation.

It's an invitation today extended to you. And it led to a final sin, hate, pride, hypocrisy, flattery, deception, number six, stubbornness. Verse 26, they were unable to catch Him in a saying in the presence of the people and marveling at His answer.

They became silent. I wish it said they repented. They're so stubborn.

This is an irredeemable, ir-remedial situation. They go away only frustrated because they failed to catch Him in a saying in front of the people that would have caused Him to be arrested and executed. Instead of going away and marveling and saying His wisdom is staggering and stunning and we do have obligations to God and we need to take a look at our obligation to God, they are so stubborn.

This is, I guess, the old word pertinacity, stubbornness. This is a complex of sins that is beyond hope...beyond hope. Oh by the way, turn to chapter 23 verse 2, well verse 1, finally they get Jesus to Pilate. Verse 1, they brought Him before Pilate and they began to accuse Him saying, we found this man misleading our nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar. Outright lie, bold-faced lie. They knew that that was the way they were going to get Him arrested and executed. And if He wouldn't say something, they would fabricate it.

Is that stubbornness? You become a self-righteous liar in an effort to reject Christ. Such hatred in some ways is incomprehensible but it is a complex of sin without remedy that eventually will in the plan of God bring them to success. And they'll have Him arrested and executed and the crowd will scream for His blood and re-embrace them as their spiritual heroes. I hope no one here today will walk away from Jesus Christ.

Take a side, you're either with Him or with them. That's John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary in the Los Angeles area. The title of his current study here on Grace to You, How to Talk to a Heretic. Well John, as I'm listening to you talk about how Jesus dealt with error, how He confronted it, it occurs to me that it's fair to say that in your more than 50 years of ministry you've engaged in some pretty visible debates and disputes over biblical issues both in your preaching and in your writing. And I'm wondering if our listeners might be thinking that maybe you're energized by confrontation and controversy.

Are there positive results that come from that? Well, I'm not energized by confrontation and controversy. I don't particularly like that.

I mean, who would want to do that just as a hobby? Well, why would you want to be in conflict all the time? But I take my cue from Jesus, right, who His whole lifelong functioned on two different fronts. On the one hand, compassion, love, kindness, care, healing, deliverance to the people who were ill and sick and even dead and, you know, coming to me all ye that labor and heavily and I'll give you rest. And there's that compassionate part of ministry. But on the other hand, this unending fight with the purveyors of false teaching, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the scribes, the whole gang of them all the way up the ladder to the people who ran the temple, to the high priest himself. In fact, there was a high priest that sentenced Jesus to death at the end of his life. So that's the nature of ministry.

And I follow that up not only with saying following Christ is going to take you there but following Paul. Look, Paul would go into a town and it didn't take very long before he started some kind of hostile reaction. Town after town after town, they plotted to kill him. He had to escape for his life.

Why is this? Because he was kind and compassionate and tender hearted? No, because he was confrontive.

If you're in lies and deception, you're headed for eternal hell, that has to be confronted. So you can take your model from the other apostles. Look, the apostles all basically died either as martyrs or exiles.

They were rejected. Jesus was rejected. The prophets of the Old Testament, what did Jesus say the people of Israel did to the prophets? You killed the prophets. They'd been killing the prophets for millennia and they killed Jesus. That's the parable he told. And then they killed the apostles.

Why? Because they were preaching kindness and mercy? No, because they were confronting lies and deception and errors in Satan's kingdom of darkness, which was their calling and it's still our calling today.

Yes, it is. Thank you, John. And friend, if you want to fulfill that calling, if you want to make sure you're confronting error like Jesus did, reviewing John's current study can be a big help. To download the MP3s from the series called How to Talk to a Heretic, contact us today. How to Talk to a Heretic is available also in an eight CD album. You might want to donate a copy to your church's library.

To get the CDs, call our toll-free number, 800-55-GRACE, or go to our website, Or, as I said, you can download every message from How to Talk to a Heretic for free at our website. All of our MP3s are free of charge, and in fact, all of John's sermons, more than 3,500 of them, are free to download at And while you're online, I would encourage you to pick up John's newest book, Jesus Unleashed. This book makes a great complement to John's current radio series. It shows you the dangers of the mindset that says Christians should be less preachy, less sure of our convictions, and more tolerant of error. Again, John's newest book is titled Jesus Unleashed. To pick up your copy, call 800-55-GRACE, or go to Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for tuning in today, and be back tomorrow when John looks at how you can protect yourself against two very different, but very dangerous, kinds of false teaching. It's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-19 04:56:31 / 2023-09-19 05:06:36 / 10

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