Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Missional Jesus 52

Next, missional Jesus is emplotted by the Pharisees who want to get Jesus to say something that will get him in trouble — which is still a preferred technique by lots of Christians today. As they refuse to sing the dirge when John Baptist’s voice is heard and as they refuse to dance to the music Jesus plays, so Jesus refuses to play their game. Which is the way, if we have sound discernment, to play the trapper’s game. Here’s the trap:
Tell me Jesus, they say, should Jews being paying taxes to Caesar? “Give me a coin,” Jesus responds. Seemingly flipping it into the air for them to catch — I’m making this up but it evokes for me Jesus’ attitude — and before they catch it, Jesus says, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s waht is his and give to God what is his.”
1. Missional Jesus finds a way between a false dichotomy. The option is not simply either Caesar or God, but both God and Caesar. (Besides the obvious compromise he caught them in for they evidently had the coin with Caesar’s idolatrous image on it in their own possession.) There is a way of paying taxes and a way of serving God in the same life.
2. Missional Jesus, one has to think, is simultaneously letting the temple leaders have it. They are compromising the Temple with the presence of Caesarian coins so they should just give them all back — let the Romans have what the Romans want and you go ahead with them. And the challenge is to give to God what is God’s — namely, the Temple and the heart of the Jewish people — which they were probably unwilling to do.
The double-answered question is a double-sworded lance to the heart.
Matt. 22:15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. 16 So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” 21 They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.

Comments read comments(2)
post a comment
John W Frye

posted September 4, 2007 at 11:01 am

I am intrigued that Jesus did not suppose every question asked him came with an honest motivation to learn. Many came with the devious motivation to trap. Answering a question with another counter-question seems to be a wise tactic in these volatile situations. It’s fascinating to think how perplexed the “smart” religious leaders were by the hick from Nazareth.

report abuse

Scott M

posted September 4, 2007 at 1:39 pm

I’ve always seen this exchange as another time Jesus gave a complex non-answer to a question intended to entrap. Perhaps my perspective of Judaism is colored by my present day encounters with it, but from what I have learned about more ancient Jewish thought, I’m not sure it would have been too dissimilar. It is central to Jewish thought that the God of Israel is the one true God and all other gods are false gods. Thus, everything belongs to the one true God. He is over every king, every ruler, every pharaoh, and every emperor. So when he tells them to give to God what is God’s, well what exactly is that? In a single sentence, he has deconstructed their trap and left them unable to respond.

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

More Blogs To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Jesus Creed. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog ...

posted 11:15:58am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Our Common Prayerbook 30 - 3
Psalm 30 thanks God (vv. 1-3, 11-12) and exhorts others to thank God (vv. 4-5). Both emerge from the concrete reality of David's own experience. Here is what that experience looks like:Step one: David was set on high and was flourishing at the ...

posted 12:15:30pm Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Theology After Darwin 1 (RJS)
One of the more important and more difficult pieces of the puzzle as we feel our way forward at the interface of science and faith is the theological implications of discoveries in modern science. A comment on my post Evolution in the Key of D: ...

posted 6:01:52am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Almost Christian 4
Who does well when it comes to passing on the faith to the youth? Studies show two groups do really well: conservative Protestants and Mormons; two groups that don't do well are mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics. Kenda Dean's ...

posted 12:01:53am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Let's Get Neanderthal!
The Cave Man Diet, or Paleo Diet, is getting attention. (Nothing is said about Culver's at all.) The big omission, I have to admit, is that those folks were hunters -- using spears or smacking some rabbit upside the conk or grabbing a fish or ...

posted 2:05:48pm Aug. 30, 2010 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.