One of the most well known instances of Jesus using logic and leaving his opponents speechless is when the Pharisees and Herodians tried to trick Him with a question about taxes. In this passage (Matthew 22:15-22) Jesus uses antithesis to frustrate his detractors by juxtaposing two contrasting words and ideas, leaving them no room to attack Him.
In the lead up to this passage, Jesus had been hammering the Pharisees and they began to plot how they could trap Him. They thought they had come up with the perfect plan. The Jewish people hated paying taxes to the Roman government, but if they didn’t they knew the Romans would come down hard on them and probably take away their ability to worship God freely. Knowing this, the Pharisees came up with a plan to make Jesus choose between the two: God or government. They would ask Him if it was lawful to give a tax to Caesar. Either answer He gave they could attack Him. If He answered yes, the people would no longer listen to him and see Him as a puppet of Rome or just another religious leader who used Rome to get and maintain power. If He answered no, they would report Him to the government and charge Him with trying to overthrow the government.
Jesus knowing their hearts and their plans, asked them to show Him a coin used for the taxes. When they showed it to Him, He asked them who’s inscription and likeness was on the coin. They responded, “Caesar’s.” So He famously said, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21)
I love the next line. It says they were amazed and they left Him. Well, since the Pharisees failed, the Sadducees thought they could trip up Jesus, but He dispatched their questions with ease, as well. Then scripture says no one “dare[d] from that day on to ask Him another question.” (Matthew 22:46)
That is the ultimate proof of His logic. None of His detractors were ever able to win a debate or even score a point on Him, so they just quit trying. Jesus did all this not so we would know how smart He was, but so that we would see Him for who He was and through that we would see God. The difference between Jesus and every other logician and philosopher is that His goal was not to teach us some new way of thinking, but to give us a whole new life through a relationship with God through Him. Was He a logician and a philosopher? Yes, but that is just a small part of who Jesus Christ was. He was and is everything.
This is my fourth submission in Evangelical Outpost’s The Jesus the Logician Project.