Remember the king that was greeted with palm leaves and shouts of hosanna yesterday? Today, we see him bombarded with questions meant to entangle him. The religious elite were threatened by Jesus—by his growing popularity, his radical views of religion, and his claim to be the Messiah. The teachers of the law and Pharisees tried to make Jesus stumble.
Keeping a close watch on him, they (the teachers of the law and chief priests) sent spies, who pretended to be sincere. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said, so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor (Luke 20:20).
The religious elite were trying to make Jesus stumble through an intense line of questioning, just like the lawyers do to criminals on TV. Of all the questions thrown in Jesus’ direction, I find this question most interesting:
Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not? (Luke 20:22)
It’s a lose-lose question. If he sided with Caesar, he would be in trouble with the Jews; if he sided against Caesar, he would be in trouble with the Romans. Instead of pleading the fifth or requesting to see his lawyer, he answered with the perfect solution. Since it’s Caesar’s image on the denarius, that is to be given back to Caesar. However, whatever is God’s should be given back to God.
His answer is so profound yet simple that it literally silences the crowd—better than any answer given by a fancy attorney on TV. Jesus spent the first thirty years of his life preparing for interactions like this one. He was so in tune with God’s spirit that the perfect words just seemed to flow out of his mouth effortlessly. In the same way, we should prepare ourselves to answer tough questions and defend our faith—this includes praying for wisdom and understanding, studying truth, and committing scripture to memory. As a reminder of just that, I painted the following verse on the cover of my Bible:
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have (1 Peter 3:15).
Paul likens scripture to a sword, but we must wield it well in order to enact its power. Every time I open my Bible, I want to grow more confident in my faith so that I can rise to the defense of it and share it with others.
How will you build up your defense?
Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Deuteronomy 23-24 and Luke 20