505THE CLOSE OF OUR LORD'S PUBLIC MINISTRY
505A CONSPIRACY OF PHARISEES AND HERODIANS
505The Jewish authorities continued unceasingly active in their determined efforts to tempt or
beguile Jesus into some act or utterance on which they could base a charge of offense, under
either their own or Roman law. The Pharisees counseled together as to "how they might entangle
him in his talk"; and then, laying aside their partisan prejudices, they conspired to this end with
the Herodians, a political faction whose chief characteristic was the purpose of maintaining in
power the family of the Herods,
which policy of necessity entailed the upholding of the Roman
power, upon which the Herods depended for their delegated authority. The same incongruous
association had been entered into before in an attempt to provoke Jesus to overt speech or action
in Galilee; and the Lord had coupled the parties together in His warning to the disciples to
beware of the leaven of both.
So, on the last day of our Lord's teaching in public, Pharisees and
Herodians joined forces against Him; the one watchful for the smallest technical infringement of
the Mosaic law, the other alert to seize upon the slightest excuse for charging Him with
disloyalty to the secular powers. Their plans were conceived in treachery, and put into operation
as the living embodiment of a lie. Choosing some of their number who had not before appeared
in personal antagonism to Jesus, and who were supposed to be unknown to Him, the chief
conspirators sent these with instructions to "feign themselves just men, that they might take hold
of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor."
505This delegation of hypocritical spies came asking a question, in pretended sincerity, as
though they were troubled in conscience and desired counsel of the eminent Teacher. "Master,"
said they with fawning duplicity, "we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in
truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men." This studied
tribute to our Lord's courage and independence of thought and action was truthful in every word;
but as uttered by those fulsome dissemblers and in their nefarious intent, it was egregiously false.
The honeyed address, however, by which the conspirators attempted to cajole the Lord into
unwariness, indicated that the question they were about to submit was one requiring for its
proper answer just such qualities of mind as they pretendingly attributed to Him.
506"Tell us therefore," they continued, "What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto
Caesar, or not?" The question had been chosen with diabolic craft; for of all acts attesting
compulsory allegiance to Rome that of having to pay the poll-tax was most offensive to the Jews.
Had Jesus answered "Yes," the guileful Pharisees might have inflamed the multitude against Him