The Pharisees and Herodians went to Jesus and said, "Teacher, we know that you are an honest man. You are not afraid of what other people think about you. All men are the same to you. And you teach the truth about God's way. Tell us: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar? Yes or no? Should we pay taxes, or should we not pay taxes?" But Jesus knew that these men were really trying to trick him. Jesus said, "Why are you trying to catch me saying something wrong? Bring me a silver coin. Let me see it."
— Mark 12:14-15
Jesus saw through the scheme behind the question of the Pharisees and supporters of Herod. He knew their question wasn't an honest one. They weren't looking for God's answer to that question; they were looking for a way to trap him. The followers of Herod would have demanded that they pay tax to keep the Romans appeased. The Pharisees would deeply resent having to pay tax to anyone, especially the Romans. By teaming up, they thought they had Jesus trapped into an answer that would alienate one or the other. Instead, Jesus confronted them with the truth of their deception and then challenged them with the truth. (Jesus' truth, his answer, comes in the following verses.)
O Father, please give me discernment so that I can recognize the intent of people's words when they speak to me. I want to respond to people fairly and honestly. Yet, dear Father, I don't want to get bogged down in meaningless and spiteful arguments about words. Help give me wisdom in the use of words and in my ability to hear the true messages that are spoken to me. In Jesus name I ask this. Amen.
Today's Verses in Context
Later, the Jewish leaders sent some Pharisees and some men from the group called Herodians to Jesus. They wanted to catch Jesus saying something wrong. The Pharisees and Herodians went to Jesus and said, "Teacher, we know that you are an honest man. You are not afraid of what other people think about you. All men are the same to you. And you teach the truth about God's way. Tell us: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar ? Yes or no? Should we pay taxes, or should we not pay taxes?" But Jesus knew that these men were really trying to trick him. Jesus said, "Why are you trying to catch me saying something wrong? Bring me a silver coin. Let me see it." They gave Jesus a coin and Jesus asked, "Whose picture is on the coin? And whose name is written on it?" They answered, "It is Caesar's picture and Caesar's name." Then Jesus said to them, "Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's. And give to God the things that are God's." The men were amazed at what Jesus said.
Related Scripture Readings
All of you must obey the government rulers. Every person who rules was given the power to rule by God. And all the people that rule now were given that power by God. So the person that is against the government is really against something God has commanded. People that are against the government cause themselves to be punished. People that do right don't have to fear the rulers. But those people that do wrong must fear the rulers. Do you want to be free from fearing the rulers? Then you should do right. If you do right, then the rulers will praise you. A ruler is God's servant to help you. But if you do wrong, then be afraid. The ruler has the power to punish, and he will use that power. He is God's servant to punish people that do wrong. So you must obey the government. You should obey because you might be punished if you don't obey. And you should also obey because you know that is the right thing to do. And this is why you pay taxes too. Those rulers are working for God and give all their time to the work of ruling. Give all people what you owe them. If you owe them any kind of tax, then pay it. Show respect to the people you should respect. And show honor to the people you should honor.
And obey the leaders who are sent by the king. They are sent to punish people who do wrong and to praise those people who do good. So when you do good, you stop foolish people from saying stupid things about you. This is what God wants. Live like free men. But don't use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Live like you are serving God. Show respect for all people. Love all the brothers and sisters of God's family. Fear (respect) God, and honor the king. Slaves, be willing to serve your masters. Do this with all respect. You should obey the masters that are good and kind, and you should obey the masters that are bad.
1 Peter 2:14-18
Lord, save me from the people who lied about me. Those people said things that weren't true.