ISIS has a problem. They are convinced that they have spies among them. And as the coalition’s air strikes become more accurate and more successful, ISIS leaders are growing wildly paranoid. In the last several weeks they have implemented a Stalinesque solution to ferret out the spies – torture and kill anyone suspicious. Now, while this policy might eventually find spies, in the mean time, the shooting, beheading, and dumping their own soldiers in vats of acid, has hurt morale a bit!
The threat of spies is not a new challenge. Several examples of spies and double agents are even in The Bible: Joseph’s brothers were accused of spying (Genesis 42:9); Moses and Joshua used spies (Numbers 13, 21; Joshua 2, 6, 22); David & Saul (1 Samuel 26; 2 Samuel 10); and Delilah was a double agent (Judges 16). And throughout history, when spies are caught, they have been treated harshly.
Even Jesus had to deal with spies. In Luke 20, we read that spies had infiltrated Jesus’ disciples, and Jesus knew it. But rather than ferreting them out or having them harmed, Jesus did, as He always does, something very unexpected. He taught them!
In Luke 20:20, the Scribes & Chief Priests sent spies “who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so that they could deliver Him to the rule and the authority of the governor.” The spies asked if they should pay taxes or not. If Jesus responded, “pay taxes” He would upset the people, and if He said, “don’t pay,” He would upset the government…a no win situation.
But Jesus told them to render to Caesar that which was Caesar’s and to God that which was God’s (25). And because of His answer, they were unable to catch Him in anything wrong. In fact, they “were amazed,” and they “became silent” (26).
Wow! Jesus didn’t kill anyone or order the torture of anyone. He simply chose to answer their questions. And they were amazed. No one ever treated spies with such open access! “Come and see for yourself” was Jesus’ motto.
Jesus didn’t even try to stop a double agent who sold him out for 30 pieces of silver. Even though He knew that, when He was betrayed, it would mean pain and death. He knew that the reward in the next world is far greater than just avoiding pain in this one.
Share the Word openly, because there is nothing to hide! Many who come to spy will be amazed and silenced in their criticism. Others may want to harm us, but ultimately, no one can stand against us. No spies, soldiers, governments, or enemies, foreign or domestic, will be victorious if we follow Jesus’ example.