Matthew 22:15-22 (NRSV)
Verse 15Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. Verse 16So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Verse 17Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?" Verse 18But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, "Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Verse 19Show me the coin used for the tax." And they brought him a denarius. Verse 20Then he said to them, "Whose head is this, and whose title?" Verse 21They answered, "The emperor's." Then he said to them, "Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's." Verse 22When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.
Jesus is indeed the main thing in today’s reading. All attempts to discredit Jesus as a religious leader have failed, so now the leaders attempt to ensnare Jesus and cause him to commit an offense against the Roman government. Whether he sides with the religious or the government, either way he loses. But not so fast: it’s Jesus we’re talking about here.
Have you ever tried to ensnare Jesus, knowingly or otherwise? We probably commit the act of divine entrapment more than we realize: “Jesus, if you love me, do this for me.” We teach our kids to pray that God’s will be done. But sometimes we may want to add on, “…and may Your will be my will.” But we’re also taught that when we keep God the main thing, our hearts are turned toward God and thus we live in harmony with God’s will. Who’s doing the holy entrapping now?
Forgive us Jesus for trying to manipulate you to fulfill our desires. May we strive, instead, to fulfill your will for our lives. Amen.