“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?’”
Matt. 22:15-17 (NIV)
It always amazes me the patience of the Lord Jesus in His many encounters with those who oppose Him. In our verses for today, Jesus knew they wanted to trap Him in His words. If Jesus said they should pay tax to Caesar they would tell the people Jesus supported the hated Romans. If He said they should not pay the Roman tax they would report Him to the Roman government as an insurrectionist.
In response, Jesus asked one of them for a coin. Holding the coin up Jesus asked them whose inscription was on it. They responded “Caesar’s” So, the accusers had in their possession Roman minted coins which was an acknowledgement of Rome’s presence among them. Then Jesus told them to give Caesar what belonged to him and give to God what belonged to Him.
Jesus’ action and words were a “slam dunk” that left them speechless and Matthew wrote in conclusion, V. 22
“When they heard this, they were amazed.
So, they left him and went away.” (NIV)
If our Lord wanted to, He could have pointed out their hypocrisy, which dripped all over their approach to Jesus that day. Jesus showed their duplicity when He got one of them to produce a coin they carried which bore Caesar’s image on it. So, at some daily level they all worked with Rome at least with Roman currency.
If our Lord could work with hypocrites do you not think He can work with us? We who love Him and seek to follow Him but stumble in various ways can take heart as we see the patience of the Good Shepherd. As it is written Psalm 103:13-14 (NIV),
“As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”
The One Who taught us to forgive seventy times seven does not tire of us when we come back again and again to seek forgiveness for the same sin that dogs our heels so frequently. Never, never be hesitant to return once more to the Saviour Who loves you and gave Himself for you. Pour out your heart to Him knowing that for no reason whatever will He turn you away. Come to the Friend of sinners, and come right now.