Approximately three years before His death, Jesus of Nazareth went public with His message of the kingdom of God. In the course of time he gained devoted friends. But He also had powerful enemies. People who hated Him tried to trap Him publicly with tricky questions. On one occasion He was asked whether or not to pay 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 eye-opening to see how Jesus dealt with His opponents. While He did not mince words and called His interviewers ‘hypocrites’ he did provide a wise answer that surprised all parties involved. Jesus is free 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.
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. It is no good to demonize people we typecast as our enemies. That kind of stereotype only exists in our fantasy. Enemies are people too. Having a dialogue with our opponents has a great side-effect: we keep an open mind. Approaching the opposition and learning to love our enemies, we rub shoulders with Jesus who gave His life for friends and foes alike.