13 And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words.
When the enemies of Christ, who wanted Him silenced, could not find occasion against him from what he said against them, they tried to ensnare him by putting questions to him. Here we have him tempted with a question about the lawfulness of paying tribute to Caesar. The persons they employed were the Pharisees and the Herodians, men that in this matter were contrary to one another, and yet united against Christ to crucify Him. The Pharisee were the religious leaders and The Herodians were out for the interest of the Romans. They came together and united so they could trap Jesus with their questions. We had this same encounter as told by Mt. 22:15 15 Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.16 And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?21 They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.
The Pharisees were great sticklers for the liberty of the Jews, and, if he should say, It is lawful to give tribute to Caesar, they would incite the people against him, and the Herodians would, underhandly, assist them in it. The Herodians were great sticklers for the Roman power, and, if he should deny the paying of tribute to Caesar, they would incense the governor Pilate against Him, and the Pharisees, against their own principles, would join with them in it. It is no new thing for those that are at are enemies in other things, to join in a confederacy against Christ. They pretended that they desired him to resolve them a case of conscience that was importance in the present situation. Just like the previous encounter with Pharisees He knows the answer before they even ask the question. So, they are a going to try a new tact with Him. No more animosity. For now.
14 And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?
They gave Him a respected compliment, called him Master, as a Teacher of the way of God, a Teacher of it in truth, one who taught what was good, and upon principles of truth; “Thou carest for no man, nor regardest the person of men, thou art not afraid of offending either the jealous prince on one hand, or the jealous people on the other; thou art right, and always in the right, and dost in a right manner declare good and evil, truth and falsehood.’’ This is exactly what James was talking :
8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? 12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. 13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. 14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
We know that thou art right, their persecuting him, and putting him to death, as a deceiver, was sin against knowledge; they knew him, and yet crucified him. However, a man’s testimony shall be taken most strongly against himself, and out of their own mouths are they judged; they knew that he taught the way of God in truth, and yet rejected the counsel of God against themselves. The professions and pretenses of hypocrites will be produced in evidence against them, and they will be self-condemned. But if they did not know or believe it, they lied unto God, and flattered him with their tongue The question they put was, Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? They would be thought desirous to know their duty. As a nation that did righteousness, they ask of God the ordinances of justice, when really they desired nothing but to know what he would say, in hopes that, which side took on the question, they might take from His answer how, to accuse him. They seemed to refer the determining of this matter to Christ; and he indeed was fit to determine it, for by His Grace kings reign, and princes decree justice; they put the question fairly, Shall we give, or shall we not give? They seemed resolved to stand to His answer “If thou say that we must pay tribute, we will do it, thou we be made beggars by it. If thou say that we must not, we will not, though we be made traitors for it.’’ Many seemed desirous to do it. Christ determined the question, and evaded the trap, by referring them to the fact they had already done, by which they were precluded from disputing this matter.
15 Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it.
Once again the fact that they were hypocrites they are over exaggerating the facts. Just as we see people doing today, they ask God to answer their prayers then when He gives them the answer, they don’t like they blame it on God. Just as Adam a did in the Garden of Eden.Read Chapter 23 Jesus calls them hypocrites 7 times.
Matt 23: 13-15
13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. 14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. 15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
16 And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s.
He knew their hypocrisy, the malice that was in their hearts against him, while with their mouth they showed all this love. Hypocrisy, though ever so artfully managed, cannot be concealed from the Lord Jesus. He sees the potsherd that is covered with the silver dross. He knew they intended to ensnare him, and therefore contrived the matter so as to trap them, and to oblige them by their own words to do what they were unwilling to do, which was, to pay their taxes honestly and quietly, and yet at the same time to screen himself against their exceptions. He made them acknowledge that the current money of their nation was Roman money, had the emperor’s image on one side, and his writings on the reverse; and if so, Caesar might command their money for the public benefit, because he had the custody and conduct of the government. Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. The circulation of the money is from him , and therefore it must return to him. As far as it is his, so far it must be rendered to him; and how far it is his, and may be commanded by him, is to be judged by the constitution of the government. Caesar might not command their consciences, nor did he pretend to it; he offered not to make any alteration in their religion. “Pay your tribute, therefore, without murmuring or disputing, but be sure to render to God the things that are God’s.’’ Perhaps he referred to the parable he had just now put forth, in which he had condemned them for not honoring the Lord of the vineyard, Many that seem careful to give to men their due, are do not care to give God the glory due to his name; whereas our hearts and best affections are as much due to him as the rent was to a Master of the vineyard , or tribute to Caesar or any government. God wants us to be good citizens.
17 And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.
All that heard Christ, marveled at his answer, and how ingenuously he avoided the snare; but I doubt none were brought by it, as they ought to be, to render to God themselves and their devotions. Many will commend the truth of a sermon but will not make decision for the Lord and they set there and fight it. I have also seen God answer prayers and the recipient never give glory to God. We need to understand the do as the Holy Spirit leads by the sermon. Pharisees had a two fold problem with Jesus’s answer the Herodians were satisfied and the crowd had heard Him say just as plan to give to God what was God’s. This was not only correct but from God Himself. Next week we will see that the Sadducees get take a turn at questioning Him with a question that they think will trap. Read verses 18 thru 28.
18 Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying,
19 Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a man’s brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.
20 Now there were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed.
21 And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed: and the third likewise.
22 And the seven had her, and left no seed: last of all the woman died also.
23 In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife.
24 And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?
25 For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.
26 And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?
27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.
28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?