Our scripture this week is Matthew 22:15-22.
Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.
In this week’s lesson the Pharisees and Herodians engage Jesus in debate regarding taxes paid to the Roman government. Of course, they’re not really interested in what He thinks, they merely want an opportunity to discredit Him based on how He responds. However, they first attempt to lull Him into a false sense of security through flattery.
Jesus knows that this group opposes Him for various reasons. As always, He listens and then responds in a way that gently rebukes them for their underhanded tactics but also teaches them about His kingdom. He isn’t trying to drive them away but to help them see the wrong they are perpetuating. While the Gospel doesn’t tell us, it is possible that some understood and turned to God after hearing the lesson.
Jesus wanted everyone to hear God’s message of love and truth, especially those who held positions of power. He spent time with the poor and marginalized to heal them and give them hope, but He ensured that the political and religious leaders heard the Word as well. Only by knowing God’s plan for us can we be part of it.
Loving Lord, the lessons You bring aren’t for just one group or class but for all people everywhere. Help us to share Your love without regard to status, seeing everyone as our brothers and sisters. Amen.