July 22

Text: Matthew 22:15, 16

Then the Pharisees went and counseled together how they might trap Him in what He said.  And they *sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any.  (NASB)

The most popular religious group once again tries to “set up” Jesus.  In the past, they questioned Jesus’ acts.  They accused Jesus of violating the Sabbath.  They accused Jesus of getting power from Satan.  They accused Jesus of sanctioning the violation of the tradition of the Jewish elders.  On this occasion they use flattery in a determined effort to deceive and thereby trap Jesus.

“The situation has become extremely serious!  We are not deceived, but the people are obviously deceived.  Our position as religious leaders is at risk!  We know Jesus represents Satan, but the people think he represents God.  We must save the people from themselves!  The end justifies the means!  We will pretend he has won.  We will act convinced.  We will appeal to the weakness in everyone’s armor—we through pretended interest will flatter him.  We will discredit him with the multitudes or get him in trouble with the authorities by asking an emotion-filled question.  No answer can escape this trap!”

Their question seemed to be brilliant!  How could a man so interested in justice and the plight of common people not take the bait?  “The brilliance is that we will not appear to be responsible for his undoing—he will appear to be responsible!  The people will turn again to us.  They will want us to rescue them from this man’s horrible deceptions.”

Beware of those who praise you for “telling the truth,” “not showing deference in your teaching,” and “showing partiality to no one.”  Enemies who praise you often have a hidden agenda!  No one needs to know you as well as you know yourself.  Never let your blessings deceive you.  You can only develop what you were given.

Suggestion for reflection: We do not select our abilities.  (Read 1 Corinthians 4:1-7.)

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