Read Luke 20 here or click on the speaker icon below to listen to it.
The Jewish elites are dying to catch Jesus in something – anything – but He continues to leave them baffled and speechless instead. They question His authority, and He leaves them baffled with His presence, pure living, and uncanny ability to tell parables that cut right into their sin areas. They are desperate to catch Him in something and lessen His growing influence. 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 complimentary words.
If He says to pay the taxes, they reason they can twist it to show He is denying God’s authority. Or, if He says not to pay, Rome will lose it and see Jesus as a troublesome rebel. They are sure it is a plan that can’t go wrong.
“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. Jesus essentially says 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 in ALL places at ALL times.
Marveling at His response, they became silent. But not for long. The probing, questioning, tactics to catch Him at all costs continue. “Beware of the scribes,” Jesus says. They love their status, best seats, social standing, places of honor…but they devour widows’ houses and make long prayers for show. They will receive the greater condemnation. God sees inside the heart. God sees motives. “Beware,” Jesus says.
Whose image is imprinted on you? Are you giving Him all that is His?
How do you think these religious leaders – who probably started off with good intentions and pure motives seeking God – have become so far from Him and so enthralled with worldly status, all while missing the Savior they had been waiting for? How can this be a warning to us?