Then they sent to him some of their disciples and some members of Herod’s party. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you tell the truth. You teach the truth about God’s will for people, without worrying about what others think, because you pay no attention to anyone’s status.” (Matthew 22:16, GNB)

The plan here was to trap Jesus by getting him to answer a question in a way which “forced” Jesus to speak out against the emperor.  Those who questioned Jesus try and flatter him by speaking well of him, even though they do not believe what they are saying about him.  What I find intriguing is that they “get” Jesus.  He did pay “no attention  to anyone’s status.”  He was absolutely neutral when it came to people, he treated them all the same regardless of their socio-economic status.

What we have here then is a scene in which those who are opposed to Jesus speak the truth about Jesus while attempting to catch him speaking out against the emperor.  They of course fail, because Jesus doesn’t take the bait, he responds in such a way that he cannot be trapped by their question with the famous statement: “Pay the emperor, what belongs to the emperor, and pay God what belongs to God” (TEV).  In the process he also calls them hypocrites.

Jesus will not be bound by our expectations of him, nor limited by what we believe about him.  He is who he is, and we can believe in him or not believe in him, but believe or not, it does not change who he is, nor does it change who he claimed to be.  The Pharisees were interested in trapping him, instead they should have been interested in sitting at his feet and listening to his words.  This is what we should be interested in also.