Speaking of Life 5048 | No Exception to the Rule
The Main Ingredient was an American soul and R&B band best known for their hit song, “Everybody Plays the Fool.” Although the song is about unrequited love, its refrain alone speaks to us all.
“Everybody plays the fool sometime
There’s no exception to the rule”
That’s hard to argue with. I’m sure we can all remember some scenario of being played a fool. It comes with a feeling of shame and embarrassment along with the real cost we had to pay for falling for some deceitful scheme. An experienced con artist or unscrupulous salesperson has claimed many a victim with their devious tactics. Sooner or later, the song will prove to be true, “Everybody plays the fool sometime.”
However, for the Christian, we know the song is not completely true. There does stand among us one “exception to the rule.” And that exception is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus knew we would be no match for the deceit and fraud of the devil. So, he stands in for us as the one who does not play the fool.
One Gospel story illustrates this with Jesus being put in a no-win spot. It begins with the Pharisees and the Herodians conspiring together; these are two groups who are typically opposed to one another. They device a trick question about paying the Roman tax that will put Jesus walking a tightrope between the Roman authorities and the Jewish people.
After an attempt to butter Jesus up with flattery, they lay out their trick question. Let’s listen in to see how Jesus answers:
“Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.”
Matthew 22:17-22 (ESV)
Notice first that Jesus was not tricked. He was aware of their intent to trap him. We often only become aware by hindsight. He then calls them out for who they are, “hypocrites.” Jesus is not afraid to call out those who yield power and influence.
Jesus has answered in a way that avoids being accused of subversion to the Roman empire, while at the same time affirming the Jewish belief of the allegiance that only belongs to the One in whose image they are made.
And he does all this while presenting us with the choice we must all make. Do we give ourselves over to the manipulating, and deceitful ways of this world, or do we give ourselves to Jesus, God’s own Son who is our High Priest?
In the end, we can trust that our High Priest will walk back all the former times that we played the fool, redeeming us and leaving us in amazement as well. And on this note the song rings true: There’s no exception to the rule.
I’m Greg Williams, Speaking of Life.