|Marissa Bulso ‘14
So many words could be written about this gospel passage, but one thing stands out to me today: Jesus’ decision to respond to the Pharisees and Herodians despite their malice.
Jesus knows that his audience is trying to trap him with their question about paying taxes. A “yes” from Jesus would offend many of the Jews, who in general chafed against Roman rule. A “no” from Jesus would arouse the suspicions of the Roman authorities, ever vigilant against rebels. Either way, the Pharisees and Herodians are trying to create problems for Jesus. Yet, knowing their hypocrisy, their insincerity, and their ill will, Jesus still chooses to reply.
Had I been in the Lord’s position, I would have walked away from the whole situation and left them in their malice. But the love of our Lord is not like that (and this is certainly good news for us). His love does not leave us in our malice—his love reaches beyond it. The Lord does not turn away as I would, but responds.
First, he acknowledges the wrongdoing of the Pharisees and Herodians (“Why are you testing me?”), and immediately begins to work with them to reach a resolution—he sends them to fetch a coin, he asks them a question. In the end, he reveals the truest answer to their question, which happens to be neither of the answers they anticipated (isn’t it often like this with the Lord?).
Jesus will never sigh and turn away when we fall into sin. Instead, in the tenderness of his love, he will work with us and for us. Such love as this has the power to transform any trap, to reach past any malice, and to cure any ill will.
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