God and Caesar

It’s tax season. More importantly, it’s also holy week. During Holy Week, as the Jewish leaders were trying to find an excuse to arrest Jesus, they set a trap for him. They asked him if it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not (Mark 12:13-17). If Jesus said, “Yes,” it would anger the Jewish people, who saw the Romans as illegitimate rulers. If he said, “No,” he would obviously anger the Roman authorities.

Jesus wisely asked for a coin. He asked whose inscription was on it. They replied, “Caesar’s.” So Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” He affirmed that, yes, it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. In fact, one must. His answer also emphasized that we must render to God what is his (everything).

It’s no coincidence that this took place during Holy Week, probably just two or three days before his crucifixion. In his crucifixion, Jesus did both of these things when he offered up his life. Caesar, through the governor Pontius Pilate, required Jesus’ life from him. And at the same time, Jesus offered his life as a sacrifice to God.

Governing authorities are instituted by God (Rom. 13:1-2). Jesus even specifically affirmed that Pilate’s authority had been given him from above (John 19:11). In one act he paid the ultimate price to his earthly government, and, even more so, he offered to God the perfect sacrifice for all humanity.

The peace of Christ be with you all,

Pastor Dan