Jesus is still in the temple in Jerusalem. The chief priests and Pharisees have withdrawn from the confrontation. But that doesn’t end the schemes of the Pharisees. Not wanting to have another direct confrontation with Jesus, the Pharisees send their own disciples and a group of Herodians.
I wondered who the Herodians were so I Googoled them. Got Answers.com gave me information on the all the ruling bodies in Jesus time; the Herodians, Pharisees and Sadducees. I invite you to check out what I found if you are interested too. The three groups didn’t agree on a lot of points, but the one thing they had in common was that they wanted Jesus dead.
The first thing that strikes me about this group is that their words are dripping with honey and they don’t believe a word they are saying. “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances” (verse 16). If this group really thought Jesus was “teaching the way of God” why were they fighting against Him? Why were then not following Him? If they actually believed He was true, then they would have believed Him when He said He was the Son of God. They were being truthful when they said He wasn’t swayed by appearance and didn’t care about anyone else’s opinion. Jesus only cared about God’s opinion on any given topic. This group was simply trying to flatter Jesus, to try and catch Him off guard. I don’t know about you, but when someone excessively flatters me, I usually start wondering about their motives.
Now they go in for the kill. They ask a question that they believe Jesus can’t answer without putting Himself in danger on some front. “Do we pay taxes to Caesar or not?” I can just see the smirk on the face of the Pharisee disciple as he asks.
Jesus isn’t surprised by their tactics. He knows what is going on in their hearts. “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?” (verse 18). Jesus knew their plans, He knew that they were insincere in EVERY word they praised Him with, and He knew just how to deal with this bothersome group.
Jesus gave them the wisest answer they ever heard. Jesus didn’t try and argue politics or religion with them. He simply gave them a logical concrete answer. Things marked with Caesar’s image belong to Caesar and things marked with God’s image belong to God. This answer stopped them cold. They had nothing to counter it with, so they finally left. They were defeated. It would be time for the next group to take over. “Tag, you’re it.”
I like how Jesus asked to see a coin. The coin bore Caesar’s inscription and likeness. Go ahead and give it to Caesar because it has his name all over it. But the second part of Jesus’ answer deals with what God has put His name on. Those things are to be given to Him. As children of God we bear His seal. We are remade in His likeness. Ephesians 1:13 says that we are sealed with a promise. God writes His name on our hearts. This is what we are to render to God. He finds us so much more valuable than money!
Father God, I love reading how Jesus outsmarted the religious and political leaders. The Pharisee’s disciples and the Herodians tried to “bait their hook and cast it on the water” in expectation of a big catch, but all they got was seaweed.
Thank You for inscribing Your name on my heart. Thank You for making me over in Your likeness. Thank You for sealing me with Your promise. Please remind me whose I am when I am tempted to submit to something not of You. Today there were several opportunities for me to give in to temptation. Thank You that You held me firmly as I walked through each and every trial. Forgive me for the times I didn’t come through with flying colors. I’m ashamed of letting that one word come out. Thank You that the one word was said quietly enough it didn’t register on the children in my home today. Thank You for convincing me that we still needed to have our time together today, no matter how tired I was or how frustrated I was feeling. This time with You has been refreshing. Thank You Holy Spirit for knocking down all my excuses. Thank You for making me look inside, to once again, examine whose name in inscribed on my heart. It just needed a little dusting off to shine through again.