Afterward they sent to Jesus some of the Pharisees and Herodians, to set a trap for him in the course of conversation.
soon and very soon
a trap will be sprung
come with an oh so cute
heads I win
tails you lose
no matter what is said
it will be turned about
every hopeful slogan
is thrown back cursed
the trap is in our stars
to reflect another
Fake news is as old as the hills. When you can’t win your way by everyday reality, simpler truth, it is time to ensnare and spin a story that captures a popular imagination with just enough possibility that it is accurate and more than enough fudging to persuade.
An example of this trapping is found in a creation story: Genesis 2:17, 3:1–5. Let’s see how Jesus does with Pharisees and Herodians as a variant on Eve and a Snake.
Lest we subtly stumble into an all too easy anti-Semitism that has such a long and inglorious heritage within Christendom, it is important to note this is only the first of four questions. Each can be seen as part of a tradition that appreciates argument as a way to explore meaning, including meaning of scripture.
This first question is openly described as antagonistic. The second does not carry that threat. The third question is asked respectfully and the fourth is asked by Jesus.
The very characters involved give a hint about the coming question. The Pharisees were interested in keeping the Torah alive and pertinent in the lives of the people through the observation and guarding of their tradition. The Herodians had thrown their lot in with the Romans and were, at best, accommodating the demands of Rome to keep as many Israelites alive as possible in a time of militant occupation. Between them we have representatives of what we now call Church and State. It does need noting that this division was not along strict party lines. These two realities in their lives interwove and were not easily distinguished.
What is being looked for is self-incrimination. This will greatly assist in being rid of Jesus without being responsible his death.