Updated: Aug 1, 2022
The Pharisees couldn’t stand Jesus. They wanted to get him in trouble with either the Jews or the Romans. So they tried to trick him with a question: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” (Matthew 22:17).
Paying tax symbolized submission to Rome. If Jesus simply advocated payment of the tax, he would lose touch with the people; if he encouraged nonpayment the Herodians, from a political party backed by Rome, would accuse him of treason.
Jesus asked for a coin to see whose image it was on it, to which he responded: “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22: 21).
Jesus’ answer turns the question to a much deeper issue, ultimate allegiance to God.
After giving to Caesar the tax (or coins that bear his image), would the people turn and give themselves to God in whose image they were created? That was the ultimate issue.
It’s still the issue of our day. Do we realise that since we’re created in the image of God, we, therefore, belong to God and he has the right to ask of us just as Caesar asked for his taxes?
Scripture boldly declares that “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. The world and all its people belong to him”, (Psalm 24:1). “A man can only have what God has given him” (John 3:27).
The coin was Caesar’s but Caesar and his coin both belonged to God. Understanding this begs the question: “To who have we pledged our allegiance, to Caesar or to God?”