Blessed…On Setting a Trap

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 (Matthew 22:15-22, Common English Bible).

I have given this some thought over the past couple of days. I can’t think of a time I have ever disliked someone so much, feared someone so much or had so little faith in someone as to cause me to try to set a trap for them to fall in and where they would lose face or lose credibility.

A Pharisee of Jesus’ day would not be able to say that.  Regardless of how you might interpret it, the religious authorities of Jesus’ day were truly afraid of Jesus and what he might do. They didn’t like him. They had no faith in him.

To be fair, and when it comes to the Pharisees we are often anything but fair, these were not bad people, at least not most of them. They were trying very hard to insure the faith would be viable for the future.

The Pharisees and their predecessors had worked hard to insure the faith had rid itself of idolatry. When we read the Old Testament it is easy to see that idolatry was rampant. In the New Testament the use of idols among the Jews would seem to have pretty well disappeared.

For the Romans, Caesar was considered to be a god. While not so much an idol, that would be a false god. To carry it a step further, the Jews believed, because Caesar’s image was on the coin, to have the coin on one’s person, was to be in possession of a graven image.

There is humor in this lesson. While the Pharisees try unsuccessfully to trap Jesus because Jesus sees the trap before he falls into it. He then turns the table on his would-be trappers by asking to see the coin used for the tax. Notice that as asks for the coin, he also calls those who are testing him hypocrites. How can you test someone in a way that brings to mind possessing a graven image while at the same time holding the graven image yourself.

It is an interesting dilemma that Jesus faces. More on that tomorrow.

Has someone ever used faith or Scripture in an effort to trap you? How? Were you able, with God’s help to avoid the trap? How?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

"The Pastor Ponders" is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. Bishop and I live in Sweeny, Texas where I am the pastor of First United Methodist Church. I have served here for the past two years. For the past 27 years I have served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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