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Jesus – King of the Comebacks

Joshua Robertson, President NZLPA —

Growing up in a big extended Pasifika family and having a large network of relatives, friends and people who were connected via church, sports teams, friends of friends, cousins of cousins, neighbours etc. meant there was never ever a shortage of jokes and laughter.

If you put a foot wrong in dance practice, if you mispronounced a word when reciting your memory verse at church, if you turned up to rugby training with a funny haircut or if you wore some weird item of clothing to school forced upon you by your aunty who bought it just for you on her recent trip to Samoa … sure enough you would be surrounded by a multitude of onlookers armed with cheeky grins, ready to launch a flurry of jokes and mockery in your direction!

However, if you were capable of defending yourself with some quick witted responsive banter aka a good “comeback”, then you’d be able to diffuse the situation fairly promptly and others would know to think twice before trying to attack you again in the future.

In my opinion, Jesus was the “King of Comebacks.” When I think of the many stories of how Jesus was under attack from various people in society at the time, I am in awe of his ability to send his would-be attackers packing with their tails between their legs.

One such comeback that stands out is from Matthew 22:15 – 21 (New International Version):

15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax[a] to Caesar or not?”

18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

21 “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.”

This was just another example of Pharisees trying to trap Jesus by asking him a tricky question in the hope that they could then justify bringing charges against him. They were hoping that Jesus might somehow express support for paying taxes to the pagan Roman empire and in doing so upset all his followers who would then lose faith in him, OR that Jesus might speak against paying taxes to the Roman authority and then be seen as being rebellious and therefore liable to be charged accordingly. He is between a rock and a hard place, a lose-lose situation but then he comes up with a comeback so amazing that they are left speechless “... give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

There are many other instances in the bible where we read of other incredible Christ comebacks. And of course we all wait in faith and hope for his ultimate comeback of all – his second coming! God bless.