Be Ready At All Times
By Kasey Knowlton
“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
2 Timothy 4:2-5
2 Timothy 4:2-5
In our day and age, we are constantly being bombarded with false teaching. Whether it’s the prosperity gospel, the woke movement, or the encroaching gender madness we see, there’s definitely a need to be ready to respond with the truth. I’d like to look at some examples from the life of Christ in the book of Matthew to see how he responded to three types of false teachers and enemies of His ministry. By today’s standards of political correctness and “nice above all”, I think we’ll find that Christ’s responses may seem a bit unconventional.
The first group that opposed Jesus was the Herodians, the Jewish party loyal to Herod. Their main objective was to keep the peace at any price, especially the appeasement of Rome. In Matthew 22:15-17, they try to trap Jesus with a question about giving a poll-tax to Caesar. What’s interesting about this exchange is that it mirrors many others throughout the book of Matthew (specifically in chapters 12,15,16, 21). In these situations, the religious leaders keep asking questions in order to pull a “Gotcha!” so they can discredit Jesus as the Messiah. In Matthew 22:18, as Jesus often does, He asks the Herodians a question as part of His answer. “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites?” Did He try to subtlety dance around the issue? No. He calls them on their hypocrisy. Looking at a denarius, He asks whose inscription it shows. They answer, “Caesar.” His reply? “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” The trap backfires and they are run off by His answer.
Then we have the Sadducees, the Jewish group that denied that there would be any kind of resurrection following death. In Matthew 22:23-28, they ask a question about a long list of brothers who die and remarry the same woman, wondering whose wife she would be in the afterlife – an afterlife that they didn’t even believe in. In verse 29, Jesus rebukes them, “you are mistaken, not understanding the scriptures nor the power of God.” He wastes no time calling them out on their error. He goes on to say in verses 31-32, “But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead but of the living” (emphasis added). Notice the importance Jesus puts on what the scriptures actually say. He points out that when God introduced himself to Moses he stated, “I am,” using the present tense to describe His relationship with patriarchs who had died hundreds of years earlier. This silenced the Sadducees, as it states in verse 34.
Lastly, we have the Pharisees, the main opponents of Christ’s teachings within the religious community. They held high their oral traditions, placing them on par, or maybe even higher, than the scriptures themselves. Christ is often approached by them throughout His ministry, as they try to trap or discredit Him through their questions. Going back several chapters to Matthew 15:1-2, the Pharisees want to know why Christ and His disciples didn’t wash their hands before eating bread, because they had added a rule about this through their oral tradition. To this Jesus gives my personal favorite response in verse 3. “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” Talk about a mic drop moment!
The sad fact is, that in our day and age, many respected religious leaders have fallen away, following the words of men, rather than the word of God. Here we see a great picture of how Christ dealt with many religiously minded individuals in His day. He never goes around kicking sand in the faces of these prideful “know-it-alls.” Instead, he lets them come to Him, and then he humbles them in front of the appropriate audience. I wonder if many of our modern-day Pharisees wouldn’t benefit from a similar approach.
How many arguments would be settled quickly if we simply knew our Bibles well, were well aware of the schemes of the enemy, and spoke boldly against heresy? Those perpetuating the heresy would likely be unmoved, but perhaps those following them would give their ideas a second thought. Jesus responded well to false teaching, though he suffered greatly because of it. If we choose to preach the Word – and all of it – we can expect to suffer too, since “a servant is not greater than his master,” (John 15:20b). However, the response of truth is always worth it. May we boldly proclaim it!