Amazed But Unchanged

By pastorbillwalden

The Pharisees were some of Jesus’ biggest critics.  They were the supposed super elite of the religious community in Israel, and they were sure that Jesus was a blasphemer who was worthy of death.  They had personally challenged Jesus, but had been publicly corrected and refuted by Jesus.  This only served to further harden their hearts against Jesus, and so they sent their own disciples to question Jesus, hoping to trap Jesus in His words, that they might incriminate Him.

Matthew 22:15-22 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. 16And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. 17Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 18But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? 19Show Me the tax money.” So they brought Him a denarius. 20And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” 21They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.

What amazes me about this passage is both the hypocrisy and spiritual blindness that these men had become afflicted with.  They complimented Jesus and spoke of Him accurately.  They pretended to be seekers of truth, but were unable to perceive truth when they heard it.  They were amazed at the wisdom with which Jesus spoke regarding paying taxes, but were deaf to His incrimination against their hypocritical hearts.

Could they not see their own spiritual poverty?  Had they lost touch with their own feelings, forgetting that they were there under false pretenses?  Had they forgotten that they were lying?  Were they so hardened as to not realize that the first thing that Jesus answered them about was their own condition?

Jesus gave them an answer that came from heaven, and which they found to be amazing, but they went away unchanged.  They heard truth about their own hearts, and about a difficult political situation, and they marveled at Jesus’ ability to say such things, but they were not affected by His words.

They were spectators and critics of God, but not converts.  They were analysts and judges of Jesus, but not disciples.  They were experts on religion, but failures regarding truth.  Their intellects were receptive, but their hearts were seared.

Such is the condition of many in today’s churches.  They don’t mind being close to Jesus and His followers.  They admire His wisdom, and are sometimes amazed at the pastor’s sermon.  They have a capacity to analyze the conflicts between the world and the church, but they themselves are never converted and born again. They are amazed but unchanged.

The remedy for this is brokenness, humility, honesty, and the realization of one’s own spiritual poverty before a Perfect and Holy God who stands ready to forgive.

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