Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.
Trapping or Testing Jesus
The Pharisees got together and tried to plot how they might trip up Jesus by trapping Him in a conundrum or setting Him up with a question with no easy way out (Matt. 22:15). They sent some of the disciples of the Pharisees along with the Herodians to test Jesus. These two groups had been natural enemies of one another, but since they deemed Jesus a common enemy, they put their heads together to try and trap Him (Matt. 22:16). They flattered Him by saying that they knew He was a true teacher Who truthfully taught the way of God and was no respecter of persons (Matt. 22:16), but inwardly they obviously didn’t believe that, for why else would they be trying to trap or trick Jesus? Their motivations were anything but sincere.
Is It Lawful to Pay Taxes?
The tax collectors actually came to Peter once and asked him whether Jesus paid taxes or not (Matt. 17:24), to which Peter said yes (Matt. 17:25). Then Jesus directs Peter to find a fish, which would have one shekel in it, enough to pay both of their taxes (Matt. 17:26). Indeed, Jesus did pay His taxes, contrary to what most people might believe. The Pharisee and Herodian disciples, wanting to trap Jesus, then asked Him whether or not it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar (Matt. 22:17). If Jesus said no, then they’d report Him to the Roman authorities as a rebel who unlawfully didn’t think He should pay His taxes. But if He said yes, then they’d see that He supported the Roman authorities and their right to collect taxes on the occupied Jews. This seemed like a no-win situation to Jesus, but as was His custom, He answered a question with a question of His own. He asked whose inscription was on the coin (Matt. 22:20), to which they said Caesar’s. Then Jesus told them to ”render (or pay) to Caesar the things of Caesar and to God the things of God” (Matt. 22:21). They couldn’t believe it! They were stunned and left Him, failing to do what they had set out to (Matt. 22:22).
The religious leaders weren’t done trying to trick Jesus because the Sadducees, who didn’t believe in the resurrection, tried to set Jesus up with an impossible situation where a man had several wives. After he died (Matt. 22:22-27), they asked whose wife she would be (Matt. 22:28). But then Jesus, knowing their intent, rebuked them for not knowing the Scriptures, which they should have known, by saying that those in heaven are neither married nor are there any given in marriage (Matt. 22:29-30). Then Jesus goes one further on them by showing that, indeed, there is a resurrection because God is the God of the living and not the dead, saying, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” quoting the Old Testament (Ex. 3:6), and also that “he is not the God of the dead but of the living” (Matt. 22:31-32). Ouch! The crowds heard Jesus’ answer. They were amazed (Matt. 22:33), and so should we. You cannot unscrew the inscrutable.
A Closing Prayer
People only want to trick me, Father, into disbelieving in You by questioning You, Your Word, or Jesus Christ. But I know You always speak the truth, and I believe You, so thank You for showing me in Your Word that You are always true and every man a liar (Rom. 3:4). In Jesus’ name I pray.
Republished by Blog Post Promoter