Trapped by Words

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 1Samuel 19-21; Luke 11:29-54


47 “How terrible for you! You built memorials to the prophets, whom your ancestors killed. 48 In this way, you testify that you approve of your ancestors’ deeds. They killed the prophets, and you build memorials! 49 Therefore, God’s wisdom has said, ‘I will send prophets and apostles to them and they will harass and kill some of them.’ 50 As a result, this generation will be charged with the murder of all the prophets since the beginning of time. 51 This includes the murder of every prophet—from Abel to Zechariah—who was killed between the altar and the holy place. Yes, I’m telling you, this generation will be charged with it.

52 “How terrible for you legal experts! You snatched away the key of knowledge. You didn’t enter yourselves, and you stood in the way of those who were entering.”

53 As he left there, the legal experts and Pharisees began to resent him deeply and to ask him pointed questions about many things. 54 They plotted against him, trying to trap him in his words. (Luke 11:47-54, Common English Bible)

When I was a kid, probably fifth or sixth grade, I was being a stereotypical guy and harassing this girl I knew. I don’t remember her name so we will call her Jane. She had a small clutch bag. I don’t know that it was actually a purse but it could have been. I grabbed Jane’s bag and a friend of mine and I started playing keep-away with it. At one point, I took off running and hid the bag. Then I went home. Jane, apparently, because even though she lived further away, got home before I did. My dad was waiting….

Dad asked me about Jane’s bag. I knew better than to outright lie. I had paid the price for that a couple of times. So, being the smart guy I thought I was, I would employ some misdirection. “Dad, I don’t have her bag.” Then he asks, “Did you have it?” Here I showed that I wasn’t quite as smart as I thought I was. It never dawned on me that my dad was already on to me and was trying to trap me in my words. He didn’t even have to try very hard. “Well yes, sir,” I said. “We were teasing her and playing keep-away with it. I had it then.” I don’t remember now how he trapped me in my words but suffice it to say, he did. When he did I tried to tell my dad I didn’t lie to him. He then, in less than a calm tone of voice explained to me that because I wasn’t being honest, I might as well have been lying. It wasn’t long after that when the rather extensive punishment began with me having to retrieve Jane’s bag and walking it to her house and returning it and we will just leave it there. It was the best part of my afternoon and evening.

When the Pharisees tried to do to Jesus what my dad did to me, unlike my dad, the Pharisees never did trap Jesus in his words. Jesus then and he continued on, calling them and the things they did into question. Jesus was pretty successful with the tactic. For their part the Pharisees continued to try to trap Jesus in something he said. A good example of this is when the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus by asking him if it was lawful to pay taxes to the emperor or not. If he says yes, he losses credibility with the Jews who believed to even have the coin used for the tax was to be in possession of a graven image. Yet if he said no, he could be declared a subversive enemy of the state (for more on the trap and Jesus’ resolution see my post from last July “Blessed…The Ah-Ha Moment“). Jesus comes out unscathed but it does show how the Pharisees kept trying to trap Jesus.

They plotted. They tried to set a trap. Jesus never fell in. Oh, if only that were us. In truth, we do fall into traps. Often, we never see them coming. But, there is also grace. Though we don’t deserve it, God will pick us up, dust us off, and get us moving down the road again.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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