Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, 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. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.
(Matthew 22:15-22 ESV)
Today’s passage is a great example of why one shouldn’t simply read the Bible but instead should study it. It also demonstrates the intricate details that are woven throughout Scripture proving that the Bible could not have been made up.
After being embarrassed, insulted, and exposed for being spiritual frauds by Jesus, the Pharisees then went and plotted to entangle Jesus in His words. These men had just heard the truth about themselves from the very mouth of God and their reaction was not to humble themselves, repent, and believe Him but instead to dig in their heels and try even harder to justify themselves.
Notice the Pharisees did not go back to Jesus themselves. Instead they sent their disciples (or students) who they thought Jesus would not recognize – they would pose as those interested in learning truth.
As we’ll learn tomorrow, the Pharisees came up with a question they thought would force Jesus into making a statement that would upset either Rome or the Jewish people, leading to His downfall and (they hoped) His death. For this reason they didn’t send their students to Jesus alone, they sent them along with the Herodians.
The Herodians and Pharisees were far from being allies. The Herodians were a group very loyal to Rome. They descended from King Herod who tried to kill baby Jesus and whose brother killed John the Baptist. As such, they were likely not fans of Jesus.
The Pharisees were a Jewish religious group that despised Rome and longed for the day Israel would be free of Roman occupation. They viewed the Herodians as religious traitors but they also hated Jesus and had been wanting to kill Him for some time [Matthew 12:14].
Despite their animosity for each other, these two groups work together here because, as the saying goes, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. At least when it is convenient, as it is here for the Pharisees and Herodians.
The Pharisee’s disciples will pose a question to Jesus that they believe will turn Rome or the Jewish people against Him no matter how He answers it. The Herodian’s presence is needed if Jesus says anything against Rome. These Rome loyalists can then report Jesus to the proper authorities. The Pharisees could not do this because they were so anti-Rome it would have been out of character for them to report someone for saying something against Rome – their charges would not have been taken seriously.
That’s a lot of information gleaned from just 24 words. The Bible is amazing. In it God has succinctly packed an incredible amount of historical and spiritual truth.
It really doesn’t take much effort to expose these details. But to do so one must study the Bible, not simply read it. When we study the Bible we see a very clear picture of events that took place thousands of years ago. We can also conclude, therefore, that those who claim the Bible is full of errors or is mythology don’t have a leg to stand on.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.