Prepare to Listen. As you slow down, still your heart and mind with this prayer: See, I have longed for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life.
Prayerfully Read Luke 20:20-26
20So they watched him and sent spies who pretended to be honest, in order to trap him by what he said, so as to hand him over to the jurisdiction and authority of the governor. 21So they asked him, ‘Teacher, we know that you are right in what you say and teach, and you show deference to no one, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. 22Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?’ 23But he perceived their craftiness and said to them, 24‘Show me a denarius. Whose head and whose title does it bear?’ They said, ‘The emperor’s.’ 25He said to them, ‘Then give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ 26And they were not able in the presence of the people to trap him by what he said; and being amazed by his answer, they became silent.
Jesus’ ready wit totally undermined the attack from spies sent by the chief priests and scribes. They began with flattery, that takes up half of their speech. If they really believed their own flattery, there would have been no need for their trick question. They were merely, as Luke states, pretending to be honest. Jesus wasn’t fooled. He simply asked them to show him a denarius (coin) and state whose image and title was on it. This seems innocuous enough, except, the image was of the current Roman emperor and the title was “Divine Son,” a blasphemous claim for Jews. They avoided looking at the image and saying the title. Jesus forced them to do both.
When they first approached Jesus with their trick question, they assumed there were only two possible answers, both of which would get Jesus in trouble. First, with the Jews if he said pay the tax, and second, with the Romans if he said don’t pay. Jesus surprised them and amazed everyone with a third answer. “Then give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” It’s a radical demand since everything belongs to God—the Roman (think American, S. African, etc) coin, every person, the entire world. Giving to God what belongs to God means giving my whole self—all that I am and all that I have—to God. Not just one small coin.
What challenged you in Jesus’ response to the spies?
Respond to Jesus
Everything, Lord, belongs to you and you demand it all. Help me live today in ways that acknowledge that radical nature of your ownership and control. Amen.
Live obediently. Live, believing everything belongs to God.
I began reading my Bible when I was 8 years old. I loved it then (albeit didn't understand much) and I still love reading and studying it. I may understand a little more but I keep learning new stuff, seeing things I missed for years. This journey with Luke during Lent has been another new learning experience for me, deepening my relationship with Jesus. I pray it will do the same for you.