THE PHARISEES AND THE HERODIANS
Although the Lord Jesus spoke in such a clear way, those foolish ones did not understand at all, and the Pharisees and the Herodians still tried to trap Him. The Pharisees were a religious party, and the Herodians were a political party. These two parties customarily fought against one another, but on this occasion they cooperated in an attempt to entangle Christ (Matt. 22:15-21). The answers of the Lord Jesus in the parables were centered and focused on Himself. However, the Pharisees and Herodians did not hear a word concerning Christ because they were preoccupied by their concepts and by their evil thoughts of persecution. They considered themselves very clever so they conceived a plot to trap the Lord Jesus. They asked Him, "Tell us therefore, What do you think? Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?" This was their strategy: if the Lord said yes, then the Pharisees would catch Him, but if He said no, the Herodians would catch Him. Either way, they thought, He would be caught. However, the Lord Jesus was wiser than these evil men and defeated their plan. The Pharisees and Herodians thought they were wiser than the Lord, but they did not know that He was their Creator and that they were simply His little creatures. The Lord Jesus said, "Show Me the tribute money" (22:19). They gave Him a coin, and as they did so they lost their case. The Lord Jesus was very wise. He did not have the money; they did. Regardless of whether or not it is lawful to pay the tax, as long as they had the money, it means they were the ones who had been caught. We are all familiar with the Lord’s answer: "Pay then what is Caesar’s to Caesar, and what is God’s to God" (22:21). Although they had worked so hard to trap Him, it was easy for the Lord Jesus to escape.
We must see that it is not a matter of religion or politics; it is altogether a matter of Christ. We must take care of Christ and not be preoccupied with our own concepts. If we are preoccupied with our concepts, we will not be able to receive Christ when He is presented to us. We need to be empty; Christ can then come into us.
Next to confront the Lord Jesus were the Sadducees, the ancient modernists, who raised a question concerning resurrection. They said that a man married a wife and died without having any children. According to Jewish custom and the law of Moses, the woman then married the man’s brother (Deut. 25:5-6). He also died without having any children. The same thing happened to a total of seven brothers. So they asked whose wife she would be in the resurrection. The Sadducees felt that they were smart, and they were confident that they had trapped Him. However, the Lord rebuked them by saying, "You are deceived, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as angels of God in heaven" (22:29-30). In that day there will be no husbands and no wives. "But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken to you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living" (22:31-32). Since He is the God of the living, surely Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be resurrected. If not, God would be the God of the dead. This answer fully shut their mouths. Who can defeat the Lord Jesus?
(The Kingdom, Chapter 30, by Witness Lee)