Defeating the Subtleties of the Pharisees and Herodians
Luke 20:22 Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? (23) But He perceived their craftiness and said to them, (24) Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have? And they said, Caesar’s. (25) And He said to them, Therefore render the things that are Caesar’s to Caesar, and the things that are God’s to God. (26) And they were not able to lay hold of a saying of His in the presence of the people; and marveling at His answer, they kept silent.
After the chief priests scribes, and elders were defeated by the Man-Savior, the Pharisees and the Herodians tested Him [cf Matt 22:16]. The Pharisees, a religious party, were patriotic and faithful to the Jewish community. The Herodians took sides with King Herod’s regime and took part with him in penetrating the Jews with Grecian and Roman manners of life. They sided with the Sadducees, but were opposed to the Pharisees. But here they joined with the Pharisees to ensnare the Lord Jesus. They worked together in the attempt to carry out a plot to trap the Man-Savior. According to verse 21, the Herodians and the Pharisees questioned the Lord, saying, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach correctly, and do not accept man’s person, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” This was truly an ensnaring question. Paying taxes to Caesar was opposed by the Jews. If the Lord Jesus said that it was lawful to do this, He would offend the Pharisees. But if He said that it was not lawful, He would give the Herodians, who stood with the Roman government, ground to accuse Him. By asking the Lord such a question they exposed themselves as being base, dishonest, and crafty.
In handling this dilemma the Lord was again honest, pure, and wise. Considering their craftiness, He said to them, “Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have? And they said, Caesar’s. And He said to them, Therefore pay the things of Caesar to Caesar and the things of God to God.” To pay the things of Caesar to Caesar is to pay tribute to Caesar according to his governmental regulation. To pay the things of God to God is to pay the half shekel to God according to Exodus 30:11-16and to offer all the tithes to God according to the law of God.