Summary: Many questions we ask are not really coming from a place of curiosity but have ulterior motives, and we’re going to see that in action today.
The middle part of Matthew chapter 22 is incredible. Three groups are going to use questions to try and trap Jesus into saying something that will get him killed. They all, government, the Pharisees, and Sadducees all wanted to get rid of Him.
The Herodians represent the secular, political and economic culture, the Pharisees represent the religious establishment, and the Sadducees represent unbelievers.
They didn’t know it at the time, but they were also examining the Passover Lamb.
In Exodus 12 it’s established that the Lamb used for the Passover meal had to be examined thoroughly and found without blemish. Here Jesus was examined publicly by all groups, and as we will see, was found to be perfect.
Of course it was also an opportunity for these people who were speaking to Him to repent and believe as they heard the truth. Maybe some did. Let’s read 15-22…
In verses15-16a we see that bitter enemies will conspire to get rid of Jesus. Both government and religion are against Jesus. Nothing has changed in our day. The establishments that have the most to lose, especially economically, will band together to keep Jesus out of the picture.
Can you even count the groups that are trying to get rid of Christianity in our culture today? Jesus is a common enemy of the world. And if we truly associate with him, he says we will be too.
We also see in the next couple verses that questions again can often be used as weapons. We’ve all done this haven’t we?
Asked a question that we really didn’t want an answer to, but we were testing another person, sometimes so that we could use their answer against them or prove them wrong, or judge them.
Here with Jesus they had nothing valid to hold against him, so they were trying with their great intellect to force him into giving an answer that would upset either side.
The Jews lived in occupied territory ruled by Rome and they hated having to pay this Roman tax, and they thought for sure Jesus would share their hatred and say something that would get Him in trouble with the political authorities that were listening. That’s no doubt why the Pharisees brought the supporters of Herod along.
If he said don’t pay the tax, the Romans would get him, if he said do pay the tax, then the Jews would get him.
Of course his answer is perfect and he uses an object lesson. He asks them for a denarius, which is a Roman coin displaying an image of Tiberius Caesar with an inscription around the outside that read, “son of the divine Augustus”.
Isn’t that interesting and totally offensive to Jesus the real son of the only Divine One. There was also the goddess of peace on the other side, with the inscription, “High Priest”. Of course Jesus was the high priest and prince of peace.
This is why he’s calling them hypocrites. Not only does he see right away what there motives are, but also, they didn’t have to have these coins.
In Judea the Romans were sensitive to the Jews religion and allowed the Jews to pay the tax with a silver half-shekel that did not have these pagan images on them, so why did the Pharisees have a Roman coin with these idols on it? Jesus knew they would.
Because they were so covetous of the power and wealth that they could receive by allying with the Romans, that they basically sold out and compromised their faith and principles out of greed.
Jesus actually traps them simply by showing that the Pharisees carried and used these coins that they forbid in their law. They were worshipping money and this money was an idol itself, never mind the images and inscriptions on it.
That culture was supposed to worship Caesar as a God, so when Jesus makes the statement about rendering, he is making the point that they should give Caesar only what Caesar should get, the money, but the worship must go to God.
All the people marvelled at Jesus’ words because once again they could find no fault from either the political or religious side. The words of Jesus have the power to defeat any attack.
What are the lessons here? We are to submit to the government in civil matters and to God in spiritual matters. These things should be separate, and man or idols should not receive what is rightfully God’s.
I would argue that II. money is the world’s biggest idol regardless of what is printed on it. But have you ever noticed that we do the same thing with our money that the Romans did? Both our money and the US money have images of political leaders on it.
The American bills even have “In God we Trust” printed on them. Why is that? Why is that printed on money?