Matthew 21:23-32 Trapped

When people think about traps being set they mostly think about animal traps. There are also other traps like bait car or police stings where they set people up to fail. A trap is where you lure something or someone in with something that looks promising only to find out that you are now trapped.

Attorneys are used to get people out or to keep them out of traps of contracts. The little details that may go unnoticed and trap someone into a long term contract or payment they were not expecting.

The religious leaders try and trap Jesus and Jesus in turn catches them in their own trap.

By what authority do you do these things?

First of all we have to remember when Jesus was cleansing the temple they did and said nothing. They could have had the temple guards arrest him for disorderly conduct but the authority of Jesus was evident and now they want to know where He gets His authority from.

Jesus was teaching in one of the porticos where the buying and selling of goods would have been taking place. This is probably one of the places He cleaned out the people that were price gauging the people who were coming to worship God.

There is no indication that He was not still healing but since He healed the day before it could have still been going on plus they said “Doing these things”

They interrupted His teaching time to ask Him where He got His training. We must also keep in mind that those who approached Him where not in agreement with each other about many things politically and theologically but formed an alliance to come against Jesus.

A Rabbi would be trained under another Rabbi and then been given authority by that Rabbi. A prophet would not have training but would have been appointed by God.

The question was; “how can you be a prophet and a Rabbi?”

It was a trap. If Jesus said a human authority like another Rabbi then His actions were inappropriate for a Rabbi. If He said from God then He would be blaspheming. Jesus does not fall for the trap but turns it around on them to see if they will fall into a trap.

I will also ask you one thing and if you answer, I will answer you .

Jesus was not avoiding giving the answer He was letting them know how they could find the answer. If they answered Jesus question then He would answer theirs.

Where does the Baptism of John come? From Heaven or from Human beings?

They do not want to admit that John was a prophet sent by God because they did not believe in him. John called them a brood of vipers as well so they did not like him and they did not want to validate John’s ministry.

If we say Heavenly then Jesus will say why didn’t you believe him and if we say human origin then the people will riot.

Herod was scared of John the Baptist because of the people as well and so the Religious leaders knew they were trapped.

We do not know

This was a big deal for them to say they did not know since they were the ones who always prided themselves in giving an answer. Although it was embarrassing for the religious experts to not have an answer it was better than the alternative which was to be trapped by their own words.

People get out being trapped all the time by saying nothing. They do not answer in the negative or affirmative trying to avoid being put on the spot. This was the only way they could keep the upper hand on Jesus

Neither am I telling you by what authority I am doing these things

Jesus beat them at their own game. It was not that Jesus would have loved to tell them but they were not really looking for truth.

Many people in this world are not looking for truth they are looking for excuses to live how they want to live.

How many times have people blamed a pastors falling away on them not believe in Jesus anymore? When people make excuses for not believing then they really get trapped by their own words instead of getting to know the truth.

1)   People are trapped by the worlds words

Matthew 13:11-15 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:“‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,  and you will indeed see but never perceive.”15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart  and turn, and I would heal them.’

If their hearts would turn then Jesus would heal them. We know later that two religious leaders Nicodemus and Simon do turn to Christ so it was not too late for these religious leaders to change their mind about Jesus even after they crucified Him.

If people do not want to know the truth no amount of evidence will convince them. Jesus was doing major miracles in front of them. Blind were able to see, lame were able to walk and so forth. The evidence that Jesus was who He said was evident, yet they did not want to believe.

How people do this today:

Absolute Truth: that which is true for all people, all places and all times.

People say; “There is no such thing as absolute truth.”  I say, “If there is no absolute truth then how do you say there is no absolute truth? “

By saying that there is no absolute truth then you are making an absolute truth claim.

They are trapped by their own words yet they continue to believe it because they do not want a standard of living they have to live by. People are more interested in twisting words and blaming others all for the sake of being able to live how they want to live.

You cannot arrive at this philosophy by studying the world because the world does not work that way. Go to the Bank and fill out your deposit slip for 1,000 dollars but only hand the teller $100 and see what happens. You can say to the teller what is right for me is right for me and what is right for you is right for you but the reality is that will not work. These ideas are taught in class rooms in colleges but they do not work in real life.

The religious leaders wanted to live by their rules, their way and they did not want Jesus messing that up.

Tolerance: willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own

People are now “Tolerant with the tolerant and intolerant with the intolerant.” 

The definition of tolerance has changed because it is no longer about disagreeing but about you accepting my behavior as legitimate. People want me to say how they are living is alright even though it is not.

They are trapped by their own words because if I believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven then why do they not have to accept that belief as legitimate? They want me to accept their beliefs as equal, yet they do not accept mine. This simply does not work and our society is being pressured into believing that all lifestyles, no matter how destructive they are to the individual, should be accepted.

I call sin what the Bible calls sin not because I am a closed minded, old fashioned, bigoted, racist, homophobic, jerk. I call those things sin because I see the destruction those lifestyles lead to,  and my heart breaks for them. I guess when people share deep stories how they have been hurt by those lifestyles you do begin to hate the lies they have been told.

Other ways people twist their words are:

Actresses now have Baby Bumps not babies because it is not politically correct to call the human life inside of you a baby.

People come from animals even though all evidence points to the opposite of that statement. People continue to believe that so when they are undisciplined in their life they can quickly blame it on their animal instincts.

There is no God. This is ultimately what all people are after even though many are not comfortable saying it this way. They want to be gods of their own lives.


When people are really seeking out the truth they will find it. (Jeremiah 29:13)

Most Critics accept that Jesus did miracles that went beyond just psychosomatic symptoms and even Muhammad admitted that Jesus performed miracles. It is not that Jesus did not do amazing things it is that people still choose not to accept them.

Although Atheist like Richard Dawkins make fun of the miracles of Christ and passes them off as over-exaggerated stories for unsophisticated people, it does not stand up to the critic of the Historical evidence that is available to us. By the way Dr. Dawkins believes in aliens (which is by faith) which apparently is acceptable even though I believe in a historical figure named Jesus Christ.

Are you looking for truth or are you looking to justify your life style?

Have you examined your own words and thoughts to see if they lead to a dead end?

How do we answer people like Jesus?

Jesus knew they were not looking for the truth and the reality many other people are not as well. This does not mean we do not tell them the Truth about Jesus but we also have to know when we should answer and when we should not answer someone.

Proverbs 26:4-5 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.

Our goal is not to win an argument our goal is to save a life that has been lied to by professors, friends and the media.

People work hard to come up with good answers to why they live the way they live. They have put  a lot of thought and time and have even had to come up with answers for why they live the way they live. No amount of evidence or proof will convince someone when they have made up their mind that they will never change.

We have to know when their questions are legitimate and when their questions are just smoke screens to cover up their lifestyle they are choosing to live.

Do not feel as though you have to have an answer for every crazy question they have. Discern if they are truly looking for the truth or if they are simply trying to win an argument.

If we do not stand for truth then where will people turn when they realized they believed a lie?

Moral relativism is an empty lifestyle with no purpose or meaning. When people allow whatever lifestyle to continue then they continue to search for more things to bring fulfillment. Like drugs eventually the amount of drugs you take is not enough because your body adapts. Every lifestyle that you choose to live that is not from God will lead to destruction.

If you were God and you could see all the pain, heartache and destruction certain lifestyles have caused, what would you say to not do?

As Christians we have to feel sorry for people not mad at them as they are looking for fulfillment in this life they will only find in Christ.


2)   People are trapped by religious words

Read Matthew 21:28-32

There are people who are trying to discredit any truth at all and there are those who are trying to create a spirituality of their own making. This story would have been a little shocking to them because for any Child to say no to their Father would have been met with strict consequences. This was not America where Children can act like brats and get away with it.

The religious leaders thought they had it together and so they continued in their lifestyle of religious and self righteous ceremonies. They believed because of their own good works that they were accepted by God.

The Beauty of Christianity is that you cannot release yourself from the trap. The frustration for many people is they believe they can. We are trapped by our sin and no amount of religion will save you. When we think that by our actions God will let us into Heaven we are mistaken.

Jesus was pointing out to the religious leaders that although they were saying the right things they were not living the right things. Their words were correct but their actions were lacking. It goes back to moral relativism and deciding what we are and are not going to do is based on our own choices.

Many people are trapped in the lie of religious talk and do not realize they are headed toward death. It is not your words that matter to Jesus as much as what you do. This is not a works mentality but a love mentality. If I love someone I demonstrate it not only with my words but my actions.

Matthew 7:21 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

John 14:15 If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

It is not just about doing but a love relationship that changes how I act. And then Jesus shocked them letting them know that those who they think are the worse will be in Heaven because they realized they were trapped and needed Jesus to help them out.

If you truly belong to God then it will show. (Fruit in your life Galatians 5:22-23) Doing the will of God is always linked to repentance.

The first brother said the right thing but had the wrong actions. The second brother said the wrong thing but changed his mind and by his actions he did the will of the father. Many people think that by what they say they are good people but Jesus says it is your lifestyle that shows what you really believe.

People are lured into the trap with things that sound good but in the end it leads to death. Many believe that it is by our intentions that we are judged but God judges our actions. Non of us can release ourselves from the trap and we have to be set free.

Our job is to tell them how they can be set free, but if they refuse to listen then that is on them.

Hebrews 10:26-27 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

See also Genesis 6:3; Hosea 4:17

Godly actions not religious words show who we belong to.

Religious actions do not qualify a person and gross sin does not keep people out of Heaven it all has to do with the sacrifice of Christ.

Have you been freed from the trap? Either the trap of the world or the trap of spirituality? Only one can release you from the trap but you are going to have to admit you need to be freed. Are you giving just lip service to God or are you following Him?


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