As a preacher I don’t think I have ever spoken an exact message about the dangers of duplicity. Perhaps I should because it has always been with us. It takes wisdom and knowledge to combat this deceptive character trait.
We move into a new story today:
“After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” “Yes, he does,” he replied.” (Matthew 17 v 24-25)
Duplicity comes from a Latin word meaning “double”.
A duplicitous person is a two-faced person. They are intentionally hiding their true feelings or intentions so as to try to make people believe something that you are saying or doing that is not true.
“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” (Proverbs 11:3)
The temple tax was originally a half-shekel offering for the support of the tabernacle. It was equal to the Greek silver drachma coin. The temple tax equalled 2 drachma and was paid with the most common coin, the denarius, which was a day’s wage. If there was 2 people then you could pay with the 4-drachma coin (which is shown in v27).
This opening question of the temple tax-collectors reveals a short story of the Kingship of Jesus, His grace to our lives, the power of His payment and the freedom He gives us. All that is to come. But look at the question again: “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” It is a trick question. It is duplicitous. Two-faced. If it is NO then that leads to the confirmation that Jesus opposes the Temple. If it is YES then the next question will be, ‘then where is it?’
Do you ever feel tricked? Do you ever feel like you are playing mental gymnastics when talking with someone realising they are trying to trip you up? Do you ever wonder what the hidden agenda behind the comments and questions you are hearing?
Peter fell straight into their trap by answering ‘YES’. Ever been put on the spot and you choose the easy option? Duplicitous people lay traps and the innocent continually fall into them. There is one person that cannot be trapped of course and that is Jesus!
The response of Jesus will guide us how to deal with it.