Matthew 22:15-22 Jesus the Genius

15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax[a] to Caesar or not?”

18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

Jesus the Genius

Jesus, I knew your response was smart, but I didn’t see how smart until I read my commentary this morning.  It said how you asked them if they had a coin and in producing one they showed they used coins with Caesar’s head on them.  These coins would have had titles such as Son of God on them, referring to Caesar.  Although this was offensive to Jews, Jews used them.  In effect, you said, give Caesar’s filthy coinage back to Caesar.  In so doing, you showed no signs of telling people to stop paying their taxes which negated the threat to Rome.  Also, what you said sounded revolutionary.  It sounded like you wanted to get rid of Caesar’s filthy, blasphemous coins.  Genius.

You silenced the Herodians.  They were amazed.  I wish I had more brain.  Sometimes I feel like Winnie-the-Pooh and when I look inside my head I don’t see brain, but a bit of fluff that blew in there by mistake.  Someone said to me that I am unaware of how much I know and that I think my understanding is normal when it isn’t.  I would say that I am most keenly aware of what I don’t know rather than the little that I have gleaned.  If, like you, we were to use our brains more to their capacity, what kind of knowledge would we have.  Can the ability to respond like you did to the Herodians be learned?  Is it a gifting that we can not have.  I pray that through your Spirit you would educate us and prepare us so that we can talk boldly in public about eternal truths and absolute standards.  May we be loving and gentle and kind, but also bold and brilliant.


  1. Who questioned Jesus?
  2. How did he respond?
  3. What was the point of his response (clue:  the fact that this was the Herodians is significant)?
  4. Who thinks they outsmart the faith today?
  5. Are you familiar with smart Christian thinkers?  How can you develop your understanding?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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