Friday, June 8: The Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him
We return to our occasional reading from beginning to end through the Gospel of Matthew, which emphasizes Jesus' divine nature and his status as the Messiah—as the Son of David, the Son of Man, and the Son of God.
Read Matthew 22:15-22
Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. "Teacher," they said, "we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren't swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?"
But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax." They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, "Whose image is this? And whose inscription?"
"Caesar's," they replied.
Then he said to them, "So give back to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."
When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.
The religious leaders of Jesus' day are always trying to trap him in theological heresy. They throw question after question at him to trip him up, to get him to give "the wrong answer," so they can justify themselves as "right" and him as "wrong." Do you ever do that with other people?
Rather than focus on the specific topic of this interchange, let's look instead at what's going on at a deeper level. How much religious discourse in our culture today is spent trying to discern—often based on answers to specific hot-button questions—who's right and who's wrong, who's in or out, who is God's and who is not God's. What a waste of time.