They watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, that they might seize on His words, in order to deliver Him to the power and the authority of the governor.
Then they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You say and teach rightly, and You do not show personal favoritism, but teach the way of God in truth: Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
But He perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Why do you test Me? Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?”
They answered and said, “Caesar’s.”
And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
But they could not catch Him in His words in the presence of the people. And they marveled at His answer and kept silent. (Luke 20:20–26)
Like Matthew and Mark, Luke tells how the Pharisees once asked Jesus whether it was right to pay taxes to Caesar. They believed they at last had a question that would be impossible for Jesus to answer right. They hoped Jesus’ response would prove to the masses once and for all that Jesus was not really the Messiah.
The question that the Pharisees asked was one they had already pondered. They believed they knew all the possible answers and they were convinced that none of them were satisfactory. No matter how Jesus answered, they would be able to criticize him. They were, therefore, not prepared for Jesus to actually solve what they thought was an unsolvable dilemma. Jesus’ answer was something new, something unexpected, something that they didn’t know what to do with. So all they could do was gape at Jesus in silence.
Toward the end of the book of Job, after Job has complained long and hard about his situation, when God finally shows up to confront him, all Job can do is respond with silence:
“I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?
I put my hand over my mouth.
I spoke once, but I have no answer—
twice, but I will say no more.” (Job 40:4-5)
Like the Pharisees, our only reasonable response to God’s answers is silence. There is nothing more to add once God has spoken. God’s answer will always silence us because it will resolve all our issues.