Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, Why tempt you me? bring me a penny…
I. CHRIST WILL HAVE ACCOUNT OF THE SMALLEST THINGS. The denarius was a small coin in common use. The spirit of Christ, sun-like, discovers even the "motes." In all things there is duty. Christ's attitude to the Law not only general but particular. "Not one jot or tittle" was to pass away unfulfilled because of the influence of Christianity. "Ye are my disciples, if ye do whatsoever I have commanded you." We shall have to give account of smallest things at last - idle words, false shame, "the cup of cold water," etc. The parable of the pounds has for its moral, "He that is faithful in that which is least," etc. There is no slurring over of little things because of a general disposition and amiable intention.
II. SMALL THINGS OFTEN REPRESENT GREAT PRINCIPLES, AND BECOME THE VEHICLES OF GREAT DUTIES. Coins are often of value, apart from their intrinsic worth, in witnessing to conquests, political influences, the progress of civilization, etc.; and numismatists have made many important contributions to history through their testimony. In this case the witness was even more pregnant and precious. It proved what actually existed, and represented the claim of earthly powers. The duty to God was shown thereby to be something quite distinct, and the general relation of the human and the Divine in human obligations was thereby permanently settled and set forth. It is equally so in regard to other things. "A straw will show which way the wind blows, or the water flows." Illustrated in such instances as the Massacre of St. Bartholomew; watchwords and flag of truce in time of war; the potty dealings of common life; the "minor moralities" of the Christian, etc.
III. WE ARE ENCOURAGED AND COMMANDED TO BRING SMALL THINGS TO CHRIST Do not say he has no interest in them. See how he looks at that widow with her two mites. Hear how he calls the little children. We need a more thorough Christianity, and if we follow this rule of bringing our daily concerns, our griefs, our moral difficulties, our sins, to the throne of grace, we shall become "Israelites indeed, in whom is no guile." He will interpret the minutest uncertainty or perplexity, and show us the great in the little. Erasmus Darwin wrote (April 13, 1789): "I have just heard that there are muzzles or gags made at Birmingham for the slaves in our islands. If this be true, and such an instrument could be exhibited by a speaker in the House of Commons, it might have a great effect. Could not one of their long whips or wire-tails be also procured and exhibited? But an instrument of torture of our own manufacture would have a greater effect, I dare say" ('Life,' p. 46). - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it.