Notes: December 5, 2009

Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s

No discussion of the Christian’s obligation to pay taxes would be complete without considering this text.

Matthew 22:15-22

  • Teaming up with supporters of King Herod, some Pharisees attempt (again) to trap Jesus in conversation (v. 15).
  • Like many modern managers, they first compliment their adversary, hoping later to swing a death blow (v. 16).
  • The conundrum they present is whether or not to pay taxes to Rome. Answer yes and the libertarian populace will reject you as a legitimate Messiah; answer no and the Romans will see you as seditious.
  • Jesus wisely (of course) refuses to answer the question directly. Instead he asks for a piece of tribute money to be examined. When it is determined that Caesar’s image and inscription are on the coin, Jesus acknowledges that the coin must belong to Caesar and that it is right and just to return it to Caesar.
  • But, Jesus does not stop with the question regarding tribute. He adds that we must as well give back to God that which bears his image and inscription.  Can there be any doubt that he has in mind not only God’s creation but also man, himself, who bears the image of God?