Approximately three years before His death, Jesus of Nazareth went public with His message of the kingdom of God. Thanks to His counter-cultural ministry Jesus developed into a controversial figure. He had devoted friends and powerful enemies. Those who hated Him tried to trap Him publicly with tricky questions. On one occasion He was asked to voice His opinion on paying the Imperial Tax to Caesar. The loaded question was submitted to Jesus while both Jews and Romans were present. Following is His reaction (Matthew 22:18-22):
“But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, ‘You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.’ They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, ‘Whose image is this? And whose inscription?’
‘Caesar’s,’ they replied.
Then he said to them, ‘So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.’
When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.”
It is very eye-opening to see how Jesus dealt with His opponents. While He did not mince the words and called His interviewers ‘hypocrites’ he did provide a wise answer that surprised all parties involved.
There are a lot of extraordinary things to notice about Jesus, and one is His freedom from prejudice. He sat down with old and young, rich and poor, Roman oppressors and homegrown insurrectionists. When Jesus spoke, He addressed every person with tact and spoke in a language they all could understand.
Keeping an open dialogue with the opposition has a great side-effect: we keep an open mind. The sound of silence is deadly when opposing parties have stopped talking with one another. I believe we need Jesus the most when we are tempted to throw stones for the sake of winning an argument or show little to no interest in people we typecast as our enemies.
We are on the right track when we stop resenting the opposition and start treating every person with respect. Many have preceded us in this endeavor and have left their footprints in the history of mankind. Loving our enemies, we rub shoulders with Jesus who gave His life for friends and enemies alike.