Summary: Let's look at how Jesus takes a hot potato topic, and manages to teach truth without being unneccessarily divisive.
Passage: Matthew 22:15-22
Intro: What an incredible privilege it was for the disciples to walk with Jesus for 3 years.
1. listening, watching, talking together with him, was a life changing experience.
2. of course, thru the words of Scripture, we can have the same experience.
3. and today, we get to stand by and watch and listen as Jesus is attacked by people with smooth words and a hidden agenda.
4. but in doing so, we can learn a great deal about disarming conflict.
5. how to effectively communicate truth in a hostile environment.
6. and surprisingly, a realization that will change our view of conflict in general.
I. Dealing with Evil Intentions.
1. we have been in a context of intensifying conflict since Jesus entered Jerusalem.
2. and after the sharp parables of chapters 21-22, things are turning ugly.
3. conspiracy is hatched in v15, but Jewish religious leaders.
4. and now, they were hunting Jesus.
5. “laid plans to trap him…”
6. so there intention was evil, but like many people they wanted to stay clear of the actual misdeeds.
7. so they sent their younger Pharisees- in-training along to do the actual questioning.
8. also sent “Herodians”, who were Jewish people involved with King Herod, a Roman appointee to rule Judah.
9. these “witnesses” would be very important if they could get Jesus to say something treasonous.
10. so they laid the trap with smooth words and pride-inducing phrases
Il) “good cop/bad cop” approach.
11. then the question itself, crafted to put Jesus in a no-win situation
12. “lawful”= “is this action warranted by anything in the Law or our traditions”
13. “or not”= just a yes or no answer, please.
Il) common courtroom tactic
14. and they chose an unpopular Roman law, “poll tax” levied on every girl over 12, every boy over 14, and collected till age 65.
15. so Jesus had the choice of being unpopular with the masses, or treasonous against Rome.
16. but look what He does!
17. v18, He recognizes that they are not seeking truth, but trying to trap Him.
18. at this point, then, he refuses to get sucked in to their purpose by letting them make the rules.
19. he refuses to let them limit His answer to a simple “yes or no”, because that would not be accurate.
20. we have a body of truth to draw from, wonderful principles that guide us.
21. and so, refusing to fall into their evil trap, Jesus exposed their duplicity and took control of the interrogation.
22. calmly, kindly, he put their feet on the path to truth
II. Applying Principles from God’s Word
1. now there was no verse that talked about paying a tax levied by a foreign government on an occupied nation.
2. the Jewish leaders had talked about it, considered it OK, but most likely a decision of political expediency.
3. so Jesus takes a different route
4. and it one that is based on principles, not rules.
5. “bring me a coin” He has taken charge of the interview and has turned it into a teaching opportunity.
6. then invites them to examine the coin for identifying marks.
7. and ultimately, they will make the argument themselves.
8. it is Caesars portrait, Caesars name
9. it is the currency of his realm, and so it belongs to him.
10. it is “legal tender”, valuable to pay bills, buy items, in his kingdom.
PP twenty dollar bill, close up of “this note is legal tender for all debts, public and private.”
11. Caesar gives it value, “therefore” (missing in NIV)
12. nothing wrong with giving what belongs to him back to him.
13. and what belongs to God, is part of His kingdom, be sure to give back to Him.
14. frankly, God is not nearly as interested in our stuff as He is with our hearts.
PP Joel 2:12-13
15. the currency of God’s realm is a heart of trust displayed in obedience.
16. Jesus taught principles, heart change, not rules and regulations.
17. we can argue all day about rules, but principles are so self-evident that even these hostile questioners went away in amazement at the wisdom of Jesus
III. Watching God Bring Good Out of Evil
1. there is a great little thread that runs thru this passage.
2. one we see all thru Scripture.
3. these hostile questioners had evil intention; to send Jesus ultimately to the cross.
4. but it gave Jesus a canvas upon which to display a wonderful principle
5. the story of Joseph in the OT has the same picture.
6. here is another example from our own time.
7. over one hundred years ago, a man named Charles Darwin formulated a theory that turned the world on it’s head.