As we continue to study the Gospel of Luke, it’s getting closer to the time of the cross. The Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus in His words. They’re sending delegations of teachers to Him for the purpose of tripping Him up.
Each time they do, the wisdom of Christ proves superior. In His teaching, the Lord highlights the hypocrisy of these religious leaders.
The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people.
Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be honest. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
Luke 20:19-22 NIV
This is an interesting group that came to Jesus. Mark tells us that these spies were made up of both Pharisees and Herodians. The Pharisees wanted national independence for Israel. The Herodians were very comfortable under Roman rule. They expected that no matter what Jesus answered, someone would be offended.
He saw through their duplicity and said to them, “Show me a denarius.”
Luke 20:23-24a NIV
The key word here is duplicity. It’s really a Greek word for craftiness. Jesus knew that these men were simply saying what they thought He wanted to hear. They figured they could get Him off guard by complimenting Him. The fact is, that if they really believed what they said about Him, they would have been followers of Christ.
If you think about it, it’s actually something we should take seriously in our generation. It seems pretty easy for us to say things like, “Jesus is my Lord.” Every week we sing lyrics that say, “Jesus, you are my whole life. I give my all to you.”
We need to ask ourselves; do we really mean it, or are we just saying what God wants to hear? That’s what it means to be a hypocrite. It means that under certain, public conditions, we say things that are not true in our daily lives.
“No! I’m not trying to deceive anyone. I’m just singing the words that they put on the screen.”
Remember, Jesus said that we would have to give an accounting for every careless word spoken (Matthew 12:36). I believe that includes the careless words we sing too.
He saw through their duplicity and said to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
He said to them, “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.
Luke 20:23-26 NIV
This is the truth that we all need to hear. If we live in the world, then there are obligations that come with it – taxes, jobs, expenses, and other things as well. The Lord knows about these.
The problem comes in when we voluntarily obligate ourselves to the world. In our generation, we take on too many things that leave no room in our schedules for the plan of God.
We don’t have time for spiritual things because of that night class, soccer practice, movie night, or the hundred other things clamoring for our attention. We can binge watch twelve episodes of our favorite TV show but have no time for intimate prayer with the Holy Spirit.
According to Jesus, we need to get our priorities straight. The time is now for the people of God to live as though Jesus Christ truly is our whole life. Then we’ll see the hand of God manifesting the power that they had in the early church.
Question: How do you reorder your schedule to make more time for developing your spiritual life?
© 2022 Nick Zaccardi