1 March Pastor’s notes
Giving to Caesar and giving to God
Last’s week’s WHAM verse of the week was Matthews 22:17-22. The context is interesting (read v.15-22) as two normally opposing groups, the Pharisees and the Herodians, joined together to try to trap Jesus. The former were strict nationalistic Jewish religious teachers, and were against Roman occupation. And the latter were from a Jewish political party who sympathized with the Herodian rulers from Rome. Natural enemies became “friends” to lay a trap for their common enemy Jesus.
The plan they thought of was brilliant and fool proof (at least they thought it was). The Pharisees sent their disciples so it would look as if the question was a genuine query. They would flatter Jesus to get his guard down and then hit Jesus with a question where to answer either yes or no would place Jesus in a most difficult and dangerous position. “Yes” would make him seem like a traitor and a non- patriotic Jew. “No” would give the Herodians good evidence to report him to the Roman authorities for sedition.
“Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?
But without missing a beat, Jesus avoids incriminating himself and uses the opportunity to teach an important lesson.
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.”
The coin had Caesar’s image and title on it, and therefore by extension, belonged to Caesar.
But it is more than that. If Caesar is to be given his due, God should likewise be given His due. For not only is the whole earth God’s and everything in it (Psalms 24:1), we bear God’s image and so belong to God. What we are required to give God was is not just some monetary taxes but our entire lives.
It’s something important to reflect on.
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matt 16:26)