The Jewish elites are dying to catch Jesus in something – anything – but He continues to leave them baffled and speechless instead. Public opinion keeps them from going after Him directly, so they scheme some more.
At last…the perfect plan, they think. Let’s drag politics into it, they devise. Ooohhhh, and taxes…that’ll surely not end well, they plot.
“Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” they ask Jesus, following some manipulative & mocking complementary words.
If He says to pay the taxes, they reason they can twist it to show He is denying God’s authority over the Jews. The people will lose it, they predict, desiring to be done with this nuisance disrupting their power and authority.
Or, if He says not to pay, Rome will lose it and see Jesus as a troublesome rebel, they foresee. Either way, we win, they think. A plan that can’t go wrong.
Jesus obviously sees right through their question and motives (heck, at this point, you don’t even have to be the Son of God to see it).
“Whose image and inscription does it have?” Jesus asks as He holds a denarius in His hands…the hands that will soon be pierced by the same Government pictured on the coin.
“Caesar’s,” they reply.
“Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s…” Jesus responds.
But Jesus doesn’t stop there. “…and to God the things that are God’s,” He concludes.
What are they to even do with this? Everything is God’s. Everything. Caesar may have his picture on a man-made coin along with a rule and right to taxes and submission for a time, but his power is limited. Pay the tax but know there is a higher ruling authority under which everything and everyone submits.
David Guzik paraphrases, “Give the coin to Caesar, but give your life to God.”
It isn’t about two realms – secular vs. sacred; church vs. state; Caesar vs. God. God is over ALL things.
Whose image is imprinted on you? Now go, give to Him what is His.
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