Markby Robert M. Solomon
Jesus' enemies tried to entrap Him by asking many trick questions. Although He didn't have anyone to advise or help Him, Jesus handled the situation exceptionally well.
The religious leaders sent some Pharisees and Herodians ″to catch him in his words″ (v. 13). These two groups hated each other as they stood for diametrically-opposed principles and values. One was culturally and religiously ultra-conservative and the other was liberal. Now that they had a common enemy, they joined forces against Jesus. They asked Him a question about whether Jews should pay a poll tax to the Roman emperor. Knowing that some Jews refused to pay the tax as it would be acknowledging their subjection to Rome, they attempted to force Jesus into a tight corner. Their ″either-or″ question was intended to land Jesus in trouble whichever way He answered-as a supporter of Rome or a rebel against it. They flattered Jesus by saying He was a ″man of integrity″ who was not ″swayed by others″ (v. 14).
Seeing through their hypocrisy, Jesus asked them why they were trying to trap Him (v. 15). Everyone knew that and waited to see how He would handle the situation. He asked for a denarius, a Roman coin, and asked whose portrait was on it. When they replied that it was Caesar's, He said, ″Give back to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's″ (v. 17). The crowd must have been elated, and may even have applauded, when they saw how well Jesus had defeated the trick question.
But there was a more important lesson. Just as the coin had Caesar's image on it, the human soul has God's image on it. We were all created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). Though this image has been marred, it still reminds us that we belong to God, not to ourselves or anyone else. When we recognise this and give ourselves back to God, then His grace will work within us to re-establish His image in us through His Son (Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 15:49). Instead of talking politics, the questioners of Jesus should be thinking of the state of their souls and their relationship with God.
How would it feel to be continuously under scrutiny by hostile people who want to harm you? Try to put yourself in Jesus' shoes, and thank Him for His faithfulness and wisdom-all for your sake.
What does Jesus teach about rising above temporal questions to probe more deeply into spiritual realities? People often ask questions that hide underlying spiritual need. How can you develop greater discernment in this?