Give to Caesar...

Coins

Read: Matthew 22:15-22.

Consider this:

This somewhat odd passage is often used to promote the need for governments; ‘Jesus says pay your taxes, so you must!’ Perhaps something else is going on, however.

The Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus. They know that whichever answer he gives, people will be hurt. If he tells them to pay tax, then the zealots and his other followers who believe that he is the Messiah will leave him as he’ll appear to be standing up for the Roman Empire rather than overthrowing its regime. If he says yes, then the Romans will be after him as a ‘terrorist’.

Instead, Jesus tells them to "give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s". But what is Caesar's and what is God's? And what should we make of it today?

Maybe Jesus was thinking about the line from Psalm 24v1, "the earth is the Lord's and everything in it" when he gave his answer. Maybe it's important to remind ourselves that our possessions, our lives, our time, our talents, etc. all belong to God. Maybe when we make excuses about not having enough to help or enough money to give we should remember that it's all a gift from God. Maybe Jesus was being incredibly revolutionary with this answer and urging people to think about how they spend their money and time. Yes, we need to pay taxes, but God should always come first.

1) What do you think Jesus was trying to say with his answer?

2) How well do you use your time, talents and possessions for God and His work?

3) How could you use those things better this week?

Here’s a little about what the URC and the Council for World Mission has to say about these matters: