Christ versus Religion, by Witness Lee

More excerpts from this title...


Then the Pharisees realized it was not so easy to defeat such a One; so they asked the Herodians to join them. The Pharisees were not only the religious party, but also a patriotic party, faithful to the Jewish nation. They were patriotic as well as religious; they loved their country and were eager to protect it. At that time their nation was under the rule of the Roman empire—to the Pharisees, a detestable situation. The Herodians, on the other hand, were the very representatives of this imperialistic domination. How could two such parties, the Pharisees and the Herodians, ever work together? They could because they had a common enemy. They came together to put Jesus on the spot by entangling Him in His words. They asked, "What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?" (22:17). This tribute differed from that in Matthew 17. This was a tax paid to the Roman government. All the faithful, patriotic Jews in ancient times were against this—they would never pay one penny if they could help it. Thus they thought they could certainly catch Jesus by putting Him on the horns of a dilemma. Their question was very subtle. If Jesus should answer that it was not lawful to give tribute to Caesar, then the Herodians would immediately pounce upon Him, accusing Him of opposition to the Roman empire. However, if on the other hand He should say that it was lawful for the Jews to pay the Roman tax, the patriotic party of the Jews would reply, "This man is betraying our country." Such was the subtlety of the Pharisees.

Do you think there was no way for the Lord Jesus to escape? Do you think that anyone could entangle Him? No, even if ten parties combined together against Him, they still could not succeed. He has a way. Hallelujah, He is Jesus! Notice what He did. The wisest thing was that He did not take the tribute money out of His own pocket. He said to them, "Show me the tribute money." And they brought unto Him a denarius (22:19). They brought the tribute money—that means that they had already lost the case. They came to Jesus asking whether or not tribute should be paid to Caesar, but they had Roman money, not Jesus. They lost their case. They had the Roman money, and they kept the Roman money; so they were caught. Jesus is the Lord! Don’t try to arrest Jesus; if you do, you will be arrested by Him.

Then He asked them, "Whose is this image and superscription?" They said unto Him, "Caesar’s." The Lord Jesus answered, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s." But He did not stop there. He left no ground for the enemy. He went on to add, "And unto God the things that are God’s" (22:20-21). Their mouths were shut. When they heard this, they marveled at His answer.


Following this the Sadducees, the ancient modernists, took their turn. They thought they were more clever and could ensnare Jesus. They said in effect, "Master, there are some who believe in resurrection, but we have a problem. According to the regulation of Moses’ law, if a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren, and the first married and died, and having no seed left his wife unto his brother. The second brother did likewise, and the third, unto the seventh. And after them all, the woman died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife shall she be of the seven?" They really thought they were smart. The Lord Jesus answered, "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God" (22:29). The Lord Jesus rebuked them in His answer. He said in effect, "You don’t know the Bible. You thought you knew, but really you don’t. You don’t know the Bible; neither do you know the power of God." He went on then to say, "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage..But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living" (22:30-32). Jesus was saying to them, "All these people—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—are dead; if they are not resurrected, then God would be a God of the dead. But God could never be the God of the dead; He is the God of the living. This proves that they will all be living, they will be resurrected. You Sadducees know the letter of this title—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—but you do not know the reality in it. The letter of the Word informs you that God is the God of these three persons. But the reality in this title is that there will be a resurrection. This title proves that God will resurrect these three persons; otherwise, He would be the God of the dead instead of the living."

These modernistic Jews in ancient times attempted to corner Jesus. But Jesus took this opportunity to show how they needed to know the Scriptures in a living way, how they needed to know the power of God, and how they needed to know that God is the living God. Since God is living, His people too should be living. We too must know the Scriptures in a living way, we too must know the power of God, and we too must be the living people to know the living God. They were astonished, and they lost their case.

(Christ versus Religion, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)