Walking in Truth Devotional Update
Jesus Tested by the Pharisees
(Mat 22:15-22; Mk 12:13-17; Lk 20:20-26)
The goal of the Pharisees is to destroy Jesus’ influence, either by discrediting him in the presence of the crowds or by causing him to make a misstep that will get him in trouble with the Romans. “Then the Pharisees went and took counsel how they might entrap him in his talk” (v. 15).
This story is about one of three questions they asked Jesus to trap Him: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not? (Matt. 22:17).
It is interesting that the Pharisees sent their disciples with the Herodians to ask the question. The Herodians were the party actively supporting the rule of Herod the Great and favored making changes whenever Rome dictated. Palestine was an occupied nation by Rome, and the Jews had no special love for their conquerors.
They tried to veil their real intentions by flattery saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and care about no one; for You do not regard the person of men but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? 15 “Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?” But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why do you test Me? Bring Me a denarius that I may see it.” 16 So they brought it. And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” 17 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at Him (Mark 12:14-17).
Swete in his commentary on Mark said: “Malice lay at the root of their conduct, unscrupulous cunning while they sought to screen themselves under the pretense of a desire for guidance and an admiration of fearless truthfulness.”
Jesus therefore answered their question by demonstrating that government does have a rightful place in everyone’s life and that one can be in subjection to government and God at the same time. Paul established this exceptionally well in writing to the church at Rome (Romans 13). Jesus also said, “Give to God what is God’s. Individuals are to be subject also to God’s authority. Therefore, we have both political and spiritual responsibilities. We must not obey the government if they contradict God (Acts 5:29).
By Guy Roberson
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