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Friends in Christ Weekly Message
October 15, 2011

     Then the Pharisees met together to find a way to trap Jesus in his words. They sent their disciples, along with the supporters of Herod, to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are genuine and that you teach God’s way as it really is. We know that you are not swayed by people’s opinions, because you don’t show favoritism. So tell us what you think: Does the Law allow people to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
     Knowing their evil motives, Jesus replied, “Why do you test me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used to pay the tax.” And they brought him a denarion. “Whose image and inscription is this?” he asked.
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
     Then he said, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” When they heard this they were astonished, and they departed.

Romans 12:14-17 (CEB*)

This is a story which demonstrates Jesus' shrewdness. He points out the context in which they asked the question, to test him and not to obtain wisdom. The question was designed to get one faction or another riled up at him no matter how he answered it. Instead of a clear and direct answer, he gives an answer which even today on questions of taxes to unjust authority or for ungodly purposes puzzles Christians.

This is just one of many instances in which Jesus is asked questions, and does not answer them in the terms in which they were asked. For us today, we need to recognize that many questions, even when not asked for the purpose of entrapment, carry within them certain assumptions. Answering them directly in the terms in which they were asked may find us accepting certain assumptions which in fact we should question.

One lesson we can learn from this scripture is to be discerning about accepting the underlying assumptions involved when we are asked to choose between alternatives. Instead, we need to be asking what the Gospel teaches us about the perspective with which we view matters that face us. Sometimes the way matters are customarily framed does not reflect the reality of the Kingdom of God about which Christ taught us.

Bill Samuel

* Common English Bible ©2011 Common English Bible.

©2011 Friends in Christ, Inc.

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Document last modified on Saturday, 22-Oct-2011 21:03:38 EDT