Mark 12:13 King James Version (KJV)
13 And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words.
And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should 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.
And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words.
After the Slave-Savior was examined by the chief priests, scribes, and elders, He was tested by the Pharisees and Herodians (12:13-17). Mark 12:13 says, “And they send to Him some of the Pharisees and the Herodians that they might catch Him in His speech.” The Herodians were those who took sides with King Herod's regime and took part with him in infiltrating the Jews with Grecian and Roman manners of life. They sided with the Sadducees, but were opposed to the Pharisees. But here they united with the Pharisees to ensnare the Lord Jesus.
The Pharisees were very patriotic, wholly for the Jewish nation. The Herodians were for the Roman imperialists. Hence, these two parties could not work together. But in dealing with this wonderful Person, the Slave-Savior, those who were enemies came together to ask the Lord a subtle question, a question related both to patriotism and imperialism.
Coming to Him, they said, “Teacher, we know that you are true, and you do not care about anyone; for you do not regard the face of men, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Should we give, or should we not give?” (v. 14). This was really an ensnaring question. To give tribute to Caesar was opposed by the Jews. If the Lord Jesus said that it was lawful to give tribute to Caesar, He would offend the Jews, whose leaders were the Pharisees. But if He said that it was not lawful to give tribute to Caesar, His answer would give the Herodians, who stood with the Roman government, ground to accuse Him.
It may seem to us that there was no way for the Lord Jesus to answer this question. Suppose He had said, “No, we should not give tribute to Caesar.” Then the Herodians would have said, “You are against the Romans. You should be arrested and cast into prison.” But suppose the Lord had said, “Yes, it is right to give tribute to Caesar.” Then the Pharisees would have said, “You are betraying your country, for you are working for the Roman imperialists.” How devilishly subtle was the question raised by the Pharisees and Herodians!
Although the Lord was questioned in a devilishly subtle way, He was not afraid. Rather, maintaining His dignity, He said to them, “Why are you tempting Me? Bring Me a denarius that I may see it” (12:15). The Lord Jesus did not show them the Roman coin, but asked them to show one to Him. Since they possessed one of the Roman coins, they were caught.
After they brought a coin to Him, He said, “Whose image and inscription is this?” (v. 16). When they answered, “Caesar's,” the Lord went on to say, “The things of Caesar pay to Caesar, and the things of God to God” (v. 17). To pay to Caesar the things that are Caesar's is to pay tribute to Caesar according to his governmental regulations. To pay to God the things of God is to pay the half shekel to God according to Exodus 30:11-16, and also to offer the tithes to God according to the law of God.