Nailed Again!


Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch Him in His words. They came to Him and said, ‘Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?’

But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. ‘Why are you trying to trap me?’ He asked. ’Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.’ They brought the coin, and He asked them, ‘Whose image is this? And whose inscription?’ ‘Caesar’s.’ they replied. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.’ And they were amazed at Him (Mark 12: 12-17).

Would they never learn? The religious leaders could not face Jesus again. He had made them look stupid so many times that they sent representatives to try again. They so desperately wanted to trap Him so that they could arrest and indict Him for speaking against Rome that they just would not stop trying.

Did you notice the words of the ones who came to Him? Their words were strangely accurate if they really meant them. They would have been expressing their sincere evaluation of Jesus had they not been buttering Him up for the attack. “A man of integrity.” True! “Not swayed by others.” Absolutely! “Pay no attention to who they are.” Exactly! “Teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.” Spot on! So why did they refuse to believe Him? Why were they so intent on getting rid of Him?

Simply because they were not interested in the truth. They had to defend their position at all costs because it was comfortable and lucrative for them. They had to protect their interests with Rome. Get Him on the wrong side of Rome, and they had it made. Interesting that the representatives of the religious leaders were Pharisees and Herodians – two groups on opposite ends of the scale.

So what was their problem? Always the burning question – paying taxes to Rome! Roman taxation financially crippled the people. And to make matters worse, there were some from among their own who were in bed with the Romans – collecting taxes for them and feathering their own nests in the bargain. “Let’s nail Jesus on this one,” they thought. “Surely He does not approve of the heavy taxation burdening His own people?” One word from Him and there would be an uprising because the people hung on His every word.

Without a moment’s hesitation, Jesus caught on to their scheme. He cut right through their flattering words to their hypocritical hearts. “Bring me a coin.” He ordered them. They should have known better. What was He up to now? Producing a coin, they listened intently. Was this their moment? He held it up for all to see and demanded, “Whose face is on this coin?” Mystified, they replied, “Caesar’s.” Turning it over, He asked, “Whose title is on this side?” Once again they were forced to reply, “Caesar’s.”

Suddenly the penny dropped. “Give back to Caesar what is his and to God what is His.” He declared and, turning on His heel, He walked away. Did they have egg on their faces! Once again they had made a fool of themselves in public. Instead of catching Jesus, He caught them. He neither sanctioned nor condemned the paying of taxes to Caesar. They were part of a world system that needed money to keep it going. It was neither right nor wrong to pay taxes – it was necessary.

On the other hand, there was another system in place – an unseen kingdom over which God ruled. There were obligations to fulfil in this kingdom as well. Jesus had come to teach the people that God had the right to call the shots regarding the way He ruled over the hearts of men. His was a rule of mercy and grace. His people were to live in the world system in the spirit of His truth as representatives of their God in the world. This was the part the religious leaders refused to accept. Their corrupt hearts adhered to the world system of greed and selfishness.

Every word Jesus spoke exposed their wicked hearts. They had to find a way to silence Him so that they could carry on in their evil ways without His continual prodding and poking at their sin.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Luella Campbell

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