Catholic Courier

Posted: November 3, 2011

Last Updated: November 4, 2011

Pharisees, Sadducees try to trick Jesus

By Joe Sarnicola

The Pharisees wanted to trick Jesus into saying or doing something that they believed went against the laws of Moses, so they sent some of their disciples ask him specific questions.

“Teacher,” one of them asked, “we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion, for you do not regard a person’s status. Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”

But Jesus was no easily fooled. “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin that pays the census tax.”

One of the men gave Jesus a Roman coin. Jesus held up the coin and asked, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?”

“Caesar’s,” they answered.

So Jesus said, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”

This wise answer amazed the men who were sent to trick Jesus.

Later that day a few Sadducees also had questions for Jesus about the resurrection. They tried to twist one of the laws of Moses.

But Jesus answered, “And concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

Again the people were amazed by the wisdom of Jesus’ answer.

The Pharisees decided to try again to trap Jesus with his words. One of them said, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”

Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

Then it was time for Jesus to ask a few questions to the Pharisees: “What is your opinion about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”

“David’s,” they answered.

So Jesus asked, “How, then, does David, inspired by the Spirit, call him ‘lord’ …? If David calls him, ‘lord,’ how can he be his son?”

The Pharisees could not answer Jesus, and they did not ask him anymore questions. 

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Q&A
1. What two groups tried to trick Jesus?
2. What is the greatest commandment?