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Feb 21 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Day Sixty-seven – Matthew 22:15-22

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you

Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said. Matthew 21:33

The Pharisees had set out to lay a trap for Jesus. Their plot and the intention behind it is a tribute to Jesus’ integrity. If he had been a heretic or a criminal, there would be no need for plots and tricks. All they would have to do is use his own words and actions against him.

The idea of trying to catch Jesus in a trap suggests an image of hunters rigging a net or snare to catch a large and powerful animal (picture a lion bound with ropes). It is sad to think of Jesus tied to a post or thrown into a cage.

Using questions for bait, the Pharisees posed a conundrum that was sure to throw Jesus for a loss regardless of how he answered. Should they pay taxes to Caesar, the Emperor of an oppressive and pagan kingdom in which he was worshiped as a god? To say yes would compromise the purity of Jesus’ spiritual teaching as well as outrage the crowd who deeply resented Roman taxation. But to say no would certainly bring the wrath of the Roman government down on Jesus’ head.

But Jesus cannot be trapped or tricked. “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s,” he says, and the Pharisees turn tail and run. Those who attempt to attack Jesus end up wounding themselves.

We are amazed at Your wisdom, Lord Jesus, and how you turned the enemies’ weapons back on their own heads. But have we also come to You and asked, “What is lawful?” when the real question is not moral but relational? In every situation and regarding every decision, teach us to ask, “To whom does this belong? To whom am I obligated?” and most importantly, “To Whom do I belong?”

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