What do you do when your best troops fail to defeat your opponent in a full frontal assault? Well naturally, you cheat!
At least that’s what the Jewish leaders tried to do.
You’ll recall that they have sent their best and brightest to Jesus in an attempt to turn the people against Him with a direct challenge to His authority to clear the Temple and teach. This really should have worked, for everyone knew who the authorities were in Jewish life, yet Jesus made fools of them in 19 words. Like I said before, if you want to start a war of words, never underestimate your opponent.
The Jewish leadership decided to use spies to trick Jesus.
The spies pretended to be sincere. They positively dripped with sincerity as they asked him the question; naturally it was a trap question, for any answer He gave would ensnare Him, either with the people or with the Romans. The Jewish leaders really didn’t care who killed Him, as long as someone did…
The question was so innocently simple: “Is it right that we pay taxes to Caesar or not?” (20:22)
It was certainly a question that would interest everyone present. If He said yes, He would anger everyone and if He said no He would be subject to treason charges by the Romans…
He said neither.
“Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” (20:24-25)
That was all it took to shut the spies up, they had no choice but to retreat in failure. The third assault team would pose a much more fascinating threat…