Sunday, March 13, 2022
15-17 That’s when the Pharisees plotted a way to trap him into saying something damaging. They sent their disciples, with a few of Herod’s followers mixed in, to ask, “Teacher, we know you have integrity, teach the way of God accurately, are indifferent to popular opinion, and don’t pander to your students. So tell us honestly: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
18-19 Jesus knew they were up to no good. He said, “Why are you playing these games with me? Why are you trying to trap me? Do you have a coin? Let me see it.” They handed him a silver piece.
20 “This engraving—who does it look like? And whose name is on it?”
21 They said, “Caesar.”
“Then give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his.”
22 The Pharisees were speechless. They went off shaking their heads.
-Matthew 22:15-22 The Message
Poll-tax to Caesar
Verse 15: Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said.
Verse 16: And they *sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and do not care what anyone thinks; for You are not partial to anyone.
Verse 17: Tell us then, what do You think? Is it permissible to pay a poll tax to Caesar, or not?”
Verses 15-17 studies: A religious group that opposed the Roman occupation of Palestine is the Pharisees. Herod Antipas put policies out for Rome and the Herodians, which is a political party, supported him. Here, they united against Jesus. But, both groups were bitter enemies. Their foolproof plan was to get Jesus to incriminate himself with a question about Roman taxes. If Jesus agreed that it is right to pay taxes to Caesar, the Pharisees would have said that Jesus opposed God, the King they only recognized. If Jesus said taxes should not be paid, the Herodians would hand him over to Herod on the charge of rebellion. The Pharisees were not motivated by love for God’s laws, and the Herodians were not motivated by love for Roman justice. Jesus answered exposed their evil motives and embarrassed them both.
Verse 17 study: The Jews hated taxation to support the Romans because it went straight to Caesar’s treasury. Some of it also went to support the pagan temples and rich lifestyle of the Roman aristocracy. Caesar’s image on the coins was a constant reminder of Israel’s subject to Rome.
Verse 18: But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites?
Verse 19: Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius.
Verse 19 study: Denarius is a day’s wage for a laborer.
Verse 20: And He *said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?”
Verse 21: They *said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He *said to them, “Then pay to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.”
Verse 21 study: Jesus avoid this trap by showing that we have dual citizenships.
1 Peter 2:17: Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.
Our citizenship in the nation requires that we pay money for the services and benefits we receive. Our citizenship in the kingdom of heaven requires that we pledge to God our primary obedience and commitment.
Verse 22: And hearing this, they were amazed; they left Him and went away.