Summary: Jesus’ wisdom and understanding of the Pharisee and Herodian treachery foils their attempt to trap Him in in His speech.

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Luke. 20:19-26

Our Gospel lesson this morning comes immediately after Jesus tells the scribes and the chief priest the parable of the wicked tenants. Jesus really displeased the scribes and the chief priests with that parable because they realized that the parable was aimed at them. So, the Pharisees and the Herodians began to plot and scheme against Jesus to do away with Him. They weren’t going to let Jesus get away with his accusations and finger pointing. But Jesus was aware of their schemes.

Many years ago a strong young Indian decided to climb to the summit of a nearby snow-capped mountain peak. He donned his buffalo-hide shirt, wrapped his blanket around himself and set off. When he at last reached the top of the mountain and gazed over the endless panorama below, feeling the cold against him, he swelled with pride over his accomplishment.

Then he saw a motion at his feet. It was a snake, which promptly and pitifully spoke to him. “I’m about to die,” said the snake. “It’s too cold for me here and I am freezing. There is no food, and I’m starving. Please wrap me under your shirt and take me down to the valley.”

“No,” said the young man. “I know your kind. You are a rattlesnake, and if I pick you up, you will bite me and kill me.”

“No,” said the snake. “I will treat you differently. If you do this for me, you’ll be special and I’ll not harm you.”

At last the youth gave in to the creature’s pleading and tucked the snake under his shirt. Arriving down in the valley, he removed it and laid the snake on the ground. Whereupon the snake immediately coiled, rattled, struck, and planted his deadly fangs in the young man’s leg.

“But you promised,” said the young man, falling, feeling the deadly venom enter his bloodstream.

“You knew what I was when you picked me up,” said the serpent, slithering away.

And just as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning and craftiness, the Pharisees and the Herodians tried to do the same with Jesus. But Jesus knew who they were and what scheme they were planning. He wasn’t going to let Himself fall into their trap.

You see, the Pharisees came up with a sneaky plot to trap Jesus in His speech. By doing this the schemers tried to sway the people to turn against Jesus. First they got together with the Herodians, whom the Pharisees barely tolerated, and cooked up a plot.

They decided to send some young Herodian and Pharisee scholars to talk to Jesus. As young scholars, it was intended to make them appear as if they were seeking information rather that trying to trap Jesus. The Herodian and Pharisee scholars were instructed to pretend that they had an argument and they wanted Jesus to settle the argument for them.

When these young scholars came to Jesus they began praising Him and flattering Him, just as the snake flattered the Indian by telling him how special he was. These young scholars tried to win Jesus over in the same way. When they thought they had won Him over, they sprung the trick question on Him: “Is it permissible for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” (Lk. 20:22 TNJB)

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