Today’s passage: Matthew 22:15-22
- The Pharisees’ attempt to butter up Jesus before they ask this question about taxes is perhaps their most ironic and self-condemning statement in the Gospels.
- The Pharisees sent their disciples to do their bidding, most likely attempting to catch Jesus off guard with a question from regular people. They didn’t want Him to have the chance to prepare Himself by seeing them come His direction.
- The Herodians were loyal to Herod and Rome. These people would not have been united with the Pharisees or the Sanhedrin…until they had a common enemy. Herod would certainly not have liked the events of the “Triumphal Entry”.
- Notice, the Pharisees’ disciples and the Herodians asked Jesus if it is lawful to “pay” taxes and Jesus responded that they must “render” to Caesar what is Caesar’s. The first word is like “giving” and the second (the one Jesus used) is more about “owing”, as in paying the government what is due to them.
- Jesus didn’t mince words. He calls them hypocrites and answers their question quite directly, causing them to marvel.
Questions to consider:
- What makes the attempted flattery at the beginning of this passage so ironic? How were the Pharisees conducting themselves?
- How might this interaction between the Pharisees and the Herodians be a foreshadowing of the events to come? The ends are about to justify the means…
- How much of a say did these Jews in Judea have in how Rome governed them? If Jesus told them to pay their taxes do you think we should as well?
- Why do you think the Pharisees’ disciples and the Herodians response was simply to be marveled and leave? What is it about the simple truth being spoken that is so shocking?