Clever Answers to Dumb Questions

Alas! I am feeling a bit under the weather right now, so this will be a very, very quick blog entry, but I love the gospel for this Sunday, and so I couldn’t resist pairing it with a lovely artwork by Peter Paul Rubens.

But first! Let’s read the gospel, shall we? That way, we’ll have some context for the picture, after all!


Matthew 22

15 Then the Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap him in speech. 16They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, 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. 17 Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” 18Knowing their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin that pays the census tax.” Then they handed him the Roman coin. 20He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” 21 They replied, “Caesar’s.” At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”

…did you see that??? They totally tried to trap Jesus in some ridiculous manner, and He totally showed them by coming up with the most clever rebuttal ever. I love it!

Honestly, this is why I am truly glad to follow Jesus and submit to His answers to my dumb questions through prayer. Because I just know that His answers to my dumb questions are pretty much as awesome — and clever! –. as His rebuttal to the Pharisees’ cronies.

And so, without any further ado, I present… the painting!

The Tribute Money, by Peter Paul Rubens, c. 1612-14. Legion of Honor Museum, San Francisco, California, United States.
The Tribute Money, by Peter Paul Rubens, c. 1612-14. Legion of Honor Museum, San Francisco, California, United States.

Isn’t it lovely???

I love how Jesus looks slightly irritated, but still very, very patient with the Pharisees and their cronies, while the Pharisees and their cronies have their eyes bugging out and they look shocked and confused.

Again, this is the sort of reaction that Jesus has when I try to defend my sins to Him… very patient, though still unhappy that I am sinning and resolute on His position that I shouldn’t sin. But still, wonderfully patient nonetheless.

And, also, those shocked and confused faces when they hear Jesus’s answer is the face that I hope to have when I realize that my sins are actually quite bad and I should stop doing them. Frankly, I find kinship in the guy in the blue robe who is pointing to the coin, as if to say, “But– oh, darn it, you totally got me — and, by the way, you’re right. Unfortunately.”

Who knows? Perhaps you identify with the guy in the blue robe… perhaps you identify with some other guy in the picture. Take a look and try to find yourself amid the Pharisees!

Because, let’s face it… if you’re anything like me, you probably try to “trap” Jesus into justifying some bad things that you’ve done. And… well… you can’t really trap God very well, I’m afraid to say! Though, trust me, I’ve tried many, many times. And, thankfully, I’ve failed in all my efforts!

What can I say? There’s a reason why God is God and a reason why I’m not God!

In any case, let’s rejoice that we have a Savior who will listen to us and answer our questions! And still be patient with us and love us unreservedly, no matter what. 🙂

Karina Tabone

Karina Tabone is a wife, mother of four, author, blogger, and lover of Christian artwork. She's the author of the Illustrated Rosary series, which pairs every prayer of the Rosary with beautiful religious artwork. She likes also milkshakes, sunshine, and mystery novels. Follow her on Twitter at @illustr_prayer.

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