July 23

Text: Matthew 22:17-22

"Tell us therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?"  But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, "Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites?  Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax." And they brought Him a denarius.  And He *said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?"  They *said to Him, "Caesar's." Then He *said to them, "Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's."  And hearing this, they marveled, and leaving Him, they went away. (NASB)

The trap was implemented!  What was this brilliant, “certain to defeat Jesus” question?  The sure-fire question: Should Jews pay Roman taxes?  The question reflected a highly emotional issue!  If one was a devout Jew, he believed only God should receive Jewish finances.  To pay taxes to the idolatrous Roman government  occupying God’s Israel was an act of treason against God!  However, to refuse to pay Roman taxes was a rejection of the ruling force!  Either position meant trouble for Jesus.

Jesus immediately recognized their motivation and saw the trap!  Knowing their attempt to deceive him, he called for a coin.  The coin came from the Roman ruler.  His answer was simple: “Give the Roman ruler what is his, and give God what is His.”

Jesus offended no one.  He alienated no one.  He was not in an impossible situation.  His enemies were amazed at the wisdom of his answer.  Deceit and flattery did not work (as maybe it would with them?).

Defeated, they left.  Those who were certain they had Jesus trapped left as victims of their own question.

Attacking Jesus eventually makes us victims of our own devices.  We all die.  Jesus still lives!

Suggestion for reflection: 2000 years later, why are many brilliant people who opposed Jesus forgotten while Jesus continues to influence?  (Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-25.)

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