September 28, 2020 – Monday
Matthew 21:15-22 NIV
15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap Him in his words.
16 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.
17 Tell us then, what is Your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”
18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me?
19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought Him a denarius,
20 and He asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
21 “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.”
22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left Him and went away.
Let us look at what is happening here in the verses above. The Pharisees along with the Herodians are doing their best to trap Jesus with a question on taxes. It is important to know the Jews hated paying taxes to the Roman Empire. Not so different from today you might say, but it was different. We pay taxes to our own country and our own communities (state, county, city). We don’t pay taxes to any other country. Those citizens of Israel hated paying taxes to the Romans, the people that actually ruled over them at the upper levels while, for the most part, letting them live their lives locally.
So the question was about taxes. Jesus did His own form of Ju-Jitsu and changed the subject to one of images. The Pharisees and Herodians didn’t catch what He was doing and fell right into His trap. At His request they brought Him a denarius and then answered His questions, Whose image is this? And whose inscription? Their answer was given without any thought at all, saying Caesar’s without asking what does that have to do with anything?
Turns out Jesus’ questions had everything to do with what He would next say, So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. Clearly they knew what was Caesar’s from the coin’s image and inscription. And then, When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left Him and went away. Why would they not try to change the subject back to the original topic? How had Jesus so completely defeated them that they left Him and went away?
The reason was because they did not want to discuss what it would mean to Give to God what is God’s. Why was that? It is because everyone single one of them would know these two verses from Genesis 1:26-27, Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them (emphasis added). The Pharisees and Herodians would not want to be answering any question about whether or not they had given their lives to God because they were made in His image.
They would also know Deuteronomy 7:9, Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments. He is interested in our hearts and whether or not we love and love Him specifically. They would not know what the Apostle John would write decades later in 1 John 4:8 which is even more damning, Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
They and we are made in God’s image. They owed their lives, their very existence to Him. As do we. Questions: What are we doing with our lives that would please and glorify God in whose image we are made? What do our hearts say about us? Are we loving?