…The scribes and the chief priests … sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch Him in something He said, so as to deliver Him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor (Luke 20:19a, 20b).
The leaders of the Jewish high court are furious at Jesus, especially for the parable He just spoke against them. But since the crowds are hanging on Jesus’ every word, the leaders cannot directly attack Him. They know they will only be able to destroy Him if they can turn the people against Him.
They decide to attack Him indirectly. So they send spies posing as genuine believers to trick Jesus into saying something that will get Him into trouble with the Roman governor. First, they flatter Jesus to try to throw Him off; then they slyly ask, “Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar or not?”
It’s a devilishly brilliant trap. If Jesus answers, “Yes, you should pay taxes,” He’ll risk losing His popularity with the pilgrim crowds. But if He says, “No,” Pilate will be forced to move in and quickly silence this troublemaker, especially with the dangerous crowds gathered for the Feast.
But Jesus perceives their craftiness and recognizes their trap. So He asks them to show Him the coin used to pay the tax. When they produce the denarius He asks whose image and inscription it bears. They answer “Caesar’s.” Jesus then answers, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”
Unable to catch Jesus in His words before the multitudes, they marvel and grow silent.
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, Satan sent so many enemies to lay traps for You, yet none were able to trip You up. Forgive my pride and failings and guide my steps that I may honor You in my words and actions. Amen.
*Thank you to Lutheran Hour Ministries for providing this devotion.