Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
Trick Questions

It does not take long as a teacher to discover when you are being set up. While I do not have children of my own, I suspect it is the same for parents and their children too. For teachers it shows itself when a student asks you what you think of their essay. You know instinctively they did not get the grade they expected. For parents I am guessing it is embodied in lines like, “Well Mom said” or “Dad said”.

We see it in questions that get asked of politicians. When we get into an argument, we often make the opposite position so silly that it bears little resemblance to the original position. It is easier to defeat a straw man argument.

Jesus got asked these questions all of the time. “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” Seems like a straightforward question. What is our obligation to the state? What is our obligation to God?

If the question had been posed as a desire for the truth, the question is fine. But it was a question posed as a desire to trap Jesus, to trick him into giving an answer that would have upset either the Jews, or the Romans, or maybe even both.

In the midst of the unrest of these days, this is a good time for us to ask ourselves if we are seeking the truth, by listening to differing perspectives to clarify our beliefs.

In the end, it is the opinion of God that matters most, and in all our questions we are seeking to find the Truth, that is, Jesus. When Jesus answers the trick question, he makes it clear that really, if we are deciding what is owed to whom, we owe everything to God.

Let us pray.  

Dear Jesus, you inspire us to follow you. You also call us to work to promote the common good, so that all peoples get the rights they deserve. Help us to recognize that all good gifts come from you, and help us to share them generously with others. We make this prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Music: Cheezy Piano Medley by Alexander Nakarada



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