The Weekend Word
Paying Taxes to Caesar
15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words.
- The most effective way for the Pharisees to get rid of Jesus would be by his own words.
- To say something that would discredit himself in the eyes of the people.
- So they plot and try to trap him in his words.
16 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “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.
- Note that each group has its own disciples.
- This is the merging of enemy groups. The Herodians were supporters of Herod – they were Roman sympathizers. Caesar sympathizers.
- Think how much of a threat Jesus must have been to have the Pharisees join up with such an enemy force.
- Notice how they suck up to Jesus – “teacher” – the only person you called teacher was your own teacher.
17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”
- Tell us in your own words Jesus – what do you think?
- Jesus cannot win this no matter what is the answer
- If he says “no” the government is mad at him. And believe me; the Pharisees & Herodians would be sure to tell Rome.
- If he says “yes” then the people are mad at him.
- How would you want Jesus to answer?
- Think about elections – why do we care to see the candidates’ tax returns?
18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites?
- How does Jesus answer? First he is aware of what is going on. They are not catching him by surprise.
- Second, he exposes them for who they are – hypocrites.
- Notice that Jesus does not spend time building relationships with them — unless some of you are reading the PCV – the Politically Correct Version.
19 Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius.
- OK, let’s cut to the chase – bring me the coin.
20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?”
- Now who is in charge? Who is asking the questions? This is similar to a previous conversation where Jesus turned the tables and asked then “what do you think of John’s baptism?”
21 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.”
- This is the call to repentance – give to God what belongs to God is the emphasis in this verse (we often assume the give to Caesar part is)
- What does belong to Caesar? Whatever has been given to belong to Caesar.
- What is it Pilate said to Jesus; “So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?”
- 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.”
- So yes, pay your taxes and obey the laws. Be obedient (Romans 13)
- This is serious 2 kingdom stuff.
22 When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.
- In the end he is saying “knock off this ‘gotcha’ stuff, repent and give to God what is his. What is giving to God what is his? What has Jesus asked for?
- “Trust that I am the savior, you are a sinner and I have come for you.”
- What belongs to God is that you confess Jesus as Lord.
- Now it is interesting that this time it does not say they went off grumbling and were plotting what to do next – no it says they marveled and went away.