We live in a day when vulnerability is a fact of life. With cell phone cameras catching awkward, embarrassing moments, “journalists” looking for dirt, politicians who play loose with the truth, exposés of sexual abuse and oppression lighting up the news, our society is painfully open to “gotcha” sound bites and video clips.
We might think this is a product of our 24-7, nothing is off limits age, but Jesus was often confronted with the “gotcha” crowd. In our study of Mark’s gospel, we have encountered numerous confrontations when His critics and opponents tried to trap and discredit Him. Finding their efforts futile, they finally conspired to kill Him.
One of those attempts is found in all of the synoptic gospels. Frustrated because they had such difficulty cornering Jesus on theological and cultural issues, they decided to go political. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
“Teacher, we know how honest You are. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. You teach the way of God truthfully. Now tell us – is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
You would think Jesus was subjected to a modern-day press conference with loaded questions and not-so-subtle insinuations. Surely they had Him this time. He would be walking another fine line of insulting His Jewish brethren or promoting civil disobedience.
As usual, they had underestimated their man. Jesus deftly called for a Roman coin. “Whose picture is on this?” In response to the obvious answer, Jesus said, “Give Caesar what belongs to him and give God what belongs to God.”
This really wasn’t about taxation; it was about truth. Instead of trying to trap Jesus, I wished they would have tried trusting Jesus. They would keep on trying to trap Jesus until they thought they had won. How sad. The Truth stood before them and they couldn’t see. They were the victims of their own “gotcha” moment.