Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
Jesus was teaching in the temple courts. He was popular with the people, but the religious leaders were out to arrest and kill him. Some were sent to “catch him in his words,” hoping to find some fault they could use against him. They approached him with flattering words about integrity and his truthful teaching.
Then they posed a question that they hoped would get him into trouble with the Romans: “Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” But Jesus wasn’t about to be trapped. He knew their hypocrisy.
He asked to see one of their coins, and he used it to teach about meeting our obligations to authorities (see also Romans 13)—and recognizing that “what is God’s” is a whole lot more. All that there is, is the Lord’s—“the earth … and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1). That includes you and me and everyone else today, as well as in the past. We’re all God’s!
Thus we are all called to give of who we are and what we have to God. It’s stated this way in an ancient confession: “I belong—body and soul—to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ” (Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 1). And as God’s Word puts it, “Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1). Giving God his due still means honest giving and taxpaying.
Father, thank you for being our creator and provider. Help us to honor you in all that we are and have, so that we may honor you in all we do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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