13th March 2020

Entrapment

“But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. ‘Why are you trying to trap me?’…‘Whose image is this? And whose inscription?’ ‘Caesar’s,’ they replied. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.’”
Mark 12:15-17 (NIVUK)

Sometimes we try to back others into a corner so that we can get the upper hand. It’s like a game of chess where, for example, you move a bishop or your queen in order to trap the king and thus win the game. The Pharisees had no legal power to condemn Jesus, and so they hatched a plan which involved sending some of their disciples and some Herodians on a mission to entrap Jesus. If only they could get Jesus to speak against Caesar, then they’d have him and there would be grounds for his arrest.

The Herodians were partisans of the Herod dynasty and they supported the Roman occupation of Judea. In reality, however, the Pharisees themselves resented Roman rule, and would have had some sympathy with the Zealots who cherished the idea of Jewish nationalism. The Zealots claimed that Israel was a theocracy with God as the only rightful King, and therefore it would be unlawful to pay tax to a foreign ruler. The hypocrisy of the Pharisees is that they would have at heart agreed with or at least admired the Zealots, and yet they were plotting to get Jesus arrested and put to death on a charge of supporting the Zealot view. The Pharisees also objected to human faces on coins because, in their way of thinking, this was almost idolatry. So what was Jesus going to do to get out of this one? Jesus’ answer was perfect. Checkmate. Game over this time. And it infuriated and amazed the Pharisees, making them more determined than ever to find a way to have him executed by the Romans.

Do we get involved in conspiring to hurt others or bring them down? Are we hypocrites, accusing others of the very things of which we are guilty? Peter, who was Jesus’ companion and disciple, gives us this instruction: “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind” (I Peter 2:1).

Prayer
Great and wonderful Father, help me please to get rid of all malice, hypocrisy and deceit, and teach me to follow Jesus in all that I think, do and say. In Jesus’ name.
Amen

Study by James Henderson
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About the Author:
James Henderson is an Elder and is the European Superintendent for Grace Communion International.

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