The opposition to Jesus begins to intensify. Jesus continues to tell parables that indicate that the religious leaders have missed the point, or have lost their way, or are going to be replaced. The parable of the Wedding Feast (1-14) is another story to remind the religious leaders that they have missed the point and that the blind, the lame, the broken and the down and out are coming into the kingdom in droves.The challenges, in the best Rabbinical tradition comes in the form of questions.
Question about paying taxes (15-22): the Herodians and the Pharisees conspiring together is as odd as it could get. This is the Tea Party and the labor unions working on a joint project. The Herodians were collaborators and Roman supporters -- very politically motivated. The Pharisees were hyper religious and only engaged politically when it was deemed necessary for their survival. To have them collaborating to try to trick Jesus with this "paying taxes" question is odd indeed.
The resurrection question (23-33) is a lesson in absurdity from the Sadducees. The Sadducees were the priestly class in Jerusalem. They were ultra conservative and only kept to the first 5 books of the bible (the Torah). They did not believe in angels, the resurrection from the dead and other things. Their question, the one bride for seven brothers (I love verse 27 -- "last of all the woman died" -- I would think after grieving all 7 brothers she either died of grief or exhaustion) is manufactured and ludicrous. Jesus points out the absurdity of the question and tweaks them back.
The Great Commandment question (34-40) is a common question from Jesus time. If there are hundreds of commandments some of them must be more important than others. Jesus response was a common one for the time -- this is not ground breaking. The great commandment is the Shema -- love God with your heart, soul and mind. The second commandment: love your neighbor as yourself. This is biblical living 101. Everything proceeds from loving God first and our neighbor as ourselves. If we can stay focused on God first and doing what is best for others at all times . . . we will be living the life the Kingdom of the heavens came to bring!