“The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people.
So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor.
So they asked him, ”Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?“
But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, ”Show me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?“ They said, ”Caesar’s.“
He said to them, ”Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.“
And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent.”
I love it when Jesus gives these awesome answers. He is really working on making the Pharisees and other skeptics think deeply about their lives.
On the surface, it’s a question of taxes. It was a political issue that was used for religious leverage. If you hated Rome and idolatry, of course, you would be against paying taxes. But that would get you into a lot of trouble.
At the same time, maybe you valued staying out of trouble with the Romans and you didn’t consider paying taxes to be idolatry. Better to pay your tax and then go on with your life. Romans gotta Rome, right?
But Jesus won’t play in their reindeer games. The point of all life is to give yourself fully to the Lord. THAT is something those quizzers weren’t ready to do. They loved the benefits of Roman rule and the wealth they gained from their religious corruption. They weren’t asking Jesus these questions with a goal of revival and spiritual renewal.
There may have been some dull folks that day that walked away saying “He didn’t even tell us whether we should pay taxes or not?!” But Jesus knew He wasn’t going to reach them.
The people Jesus was poking at were the people that realized they were zealous to demand taxes but maybe should be zealous about giving themselves to God. Caesar’s image was on the money, and God’s image was on each of them.
Coinage was a way of showing who the leader of the world was. Our lives are a way of showing the same thing. We are made in the image of God. We were created to be spent and offered as tribute to Him. With CPA zeal, let us offer ourselves to Him as if we were His in the first place.
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