They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor.
After all the failed attempts to trap the Teacher in some inconsistency in His teaching and life, you would think His enemies would know better.
But here they are again. This time they are hoping to trip Him up on the question of paying taxes to the Roman occupiers. Here’s their proposed dilemma.
If Jesus simply says everyone should pay taxes to the enemy occupiers, He will lose some favor with the people. His questioners would gladly settle for this.
But if Jesus says they shouldn’t pay taxes to the Romans, then they will promptly report His insurrectionist tendencies to the authorities and He will be in big trouble. This is their hope.
Instead Jesus gives a perfect principle – 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. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.
This is the Teacher we follow. He knows our hearts, our intentions. And He has the wisdom of God to guide us.
Answers that often astonish us too. Pure genius!