Luke 20:19-26 (NIV) 19 The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people.
20 Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be honest. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor.
21 So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
22 Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them,
24 “Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?”
25 “Caesar’s,” they replied. He said to them, “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
26 They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.
On verses 19-26: The teachers of the law and the chief priests were fully aware that Jesus’ parable of the tenants (verses 9-16) was Jesus’ way of exposing their intent to kill him. So they thought, “The sooner we can get rid of this guy the better”. The question is how. They were too scared to oppose Jesus publicly anymore, thinking, “If we oppose him publicly, he might humiliate us again, or else the people who love him so much will come to his defense and make us look bad.” So because “they were afraid of the people” (v19), the teachers of the law and the chief priests pay some spies to question Jesus about paying taxes, in the hope that Jesus would say something “anti-Roman” that they could then take to the Roman governor. However, Jesus, aware of what they were trying to do, would not be trapped by their schemes. His brilliant response to the spies’ question about paying taxes was not anti-Roman at all, but affirmed the importance of being good citizens and good lovers of God. Thus the spies had nothing on Jesus to complain about to the Roman governor.
What can we learn from this?
1. Part of loving God is respecting the laws of the land where you live, to the extent that those laws don’t offend God’s own laws.
2. From these verses I learn the importance of speaking carefully and tactfully. How careful are you with your words? Have you ever gotten yourself in trouble because you weren’t as careful as you should be with your words? Proverbs 12:13 says, “An evil man is trapped by his sinful talk, but a righteous man escapes trouble.” Jesus himself says in Matthew 12:37, “For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Since our words have the power to get us into trouble or to make us a blessing, let’s ask God for wisdom in the way we use our words. As Paul writes in Colossians 4:6, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Lord Jesus, thank You for all those who took part in our church wide fast these past 3 days. We remember today that the reason why we fast is not to earn Your approval or to force You to give us what we want. After all, the way we sacrificed our bodies can never compare to the way You sacrificed Your body for us. So we fast and pray simply out of love, to humble ourselves before You and to focus on You. Would You bless all those who sought You with a humble, open heart these past 3 days, and would You bless Your church to do even greater things going forward.
We also pray for wisdom in our words, that we would be more like You in the way we speak to others, using our words to give You praise, to avoid unnecessary trouble and to be a blessing to others. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!