“Give unto Caesar what is Caesars”

7 things I Wish Jesus Never Said

Matt. 22:15-22

“Give unto Caesar what is Caesars” vs. 21

Funny Letters

A Little Boy wanted $100.00 badly and prayed to God for a whole week, but nothing happened. So, he decided to write God a letter requesting the $100.00. When the Post Office got the letter addressed to God they forwarded it on to the Whitehouse. The President was very impressed, touched and amused so he instructed his aid to send the boy $5.00. He thought $5.00 would be a lot to the little boy. The boy was, indeed, delighted by the money. He sat down and wrote a thank you note immediately, which read:

Dear God,
Thank you very much for sending the money. However, I noticed that for some reason you had to send it through Washington and, as usual, they kept most of it.
(From bucket of Surprises by John and Mark Stibbe)

Second funny letter I found.

Dear Internal Revenue Service:
Enclosed you will find my 2010 tax return showing that I owe $3,407.00 in taxes. Please note the attached article from the USA Today newspaper, dated 12 November, where you will see the Department of Defense is paying $171.50 per hammer and NASA is paying $600.00 per toilet seat.
I am enclosing four toilet seats (valued at $2,400) and six hammers (valued at $1,029), which I secured at Home Depot, bringing my total payment to $3,429.00. Please apply the overpayment of $22.00 to the “Presidential Election Fund,” as noted on my return. You can do this inexpensively by sending them one Phillips Head screwdriver, valued at $22 by the Housing and Urban Development. One screw is enclosed for your convenience.

It has been a pleasure to pay my tax bill this year, and I look forward to paying it again next year.

A Satisfied Taxpayer

Both these letter touch on something that eats away at many of us, paying taxes and the apparent lack of responsibility by the government.  Jesus addresses this whole issue of paying taxes and our finances and how we handle them. Let’s red Matthew 22:15-22 that talk about that.

Read Passage – Matthew 22:15-22

15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax[a] to Caesar or not?”  18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”  21 “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left home and went away.”

The Players

There were two main groups arguing against each other at that time.

Herodians – First, the Herodians. These were not a church group but a group of Jewish people who supported Herod Antipas and wanted closer and better ties with Rome. They supported Roman taxation, believed it was only right that everyone pay taxes. This tax was not based on income but was like a poll tax, something that everyone had to pay.

Pharisees – The other group was the Pharisees. This group was a religious group and they objected strenuously against paying anything to Rome, claiming it was a heresy to do so. They based this claim on the fact the tax had to be paid in Roman coins which had an image of Caesar on them. They refused to pay anything except the Temple Tax, which was paid in Jewish shekels.

It is quite hard to see how two such opposing forces could work together, but they did. They had, in fact, been working together and trying for some time to come up with an idea to get rid of Jesus. The Pharisees and the Herodians had started plotting together when Jesus had healed a man with a shrivelled hand on the Sabbath. This miracle really brought them together to oppose Jesus.

The Plot

The story starts with the Jewish Church leaders looking for some way to get rid of Jesus. They know their power only allows them to flog him and that might just have made Jesus more popular. So they tried to find ways to get him to say something against the Romans so they can take over and do something to keep Jesus quiet. But there is a small problem. A lot of the ordinary people regard Jesus as a prophet and just giving him to the Romans could make things difficult as well. So it says in verse 22:

“Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words.” vs. 15

The plan, if it works, and they see no reason why it won’t, is to trap him in his words so that whatever Jesus answers, he will upset one side or another. Here is a great twist to the story, these leaders are not willing to take a chance themselves or to show which side they are on and they get others to do their dirty work; verse 16:

“They sent their disciples to him…” vs. 16

These guys really take the cake, they can’t even do their dirty work themselves. This is their plan; to get Jesus to condemn himself. The question was “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” They thought there were only two possible answers. Yes, it is right to pay taxes or No it is not right. Either answer would condemn Jesus.

The Sting

Now comes the sting, the trap, the pinnacle of the story, of this plot; vss 16-17

“Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion?” vss. 16-17

I love it, they start by trying to butter him up. They claim they want to know his opinion.

1)      They call him “teacher.” They are trying to keep face publically by addressing him in a way that others see him but they don’t really recognize him as a teacher.  He isn’t trained or brought up in their way to be acknowledged that way.

2)      They sweet talk him with words like calling him a “man of integrity” and a “teacher of the truth.” That’s exactly what they are trying to trap him in, being a false teacher. Be leary about those that flatter and then want something.

3)      They ask his opinion. After calling him teacher they don’t ask him what the Scriptures teach, they want his opinion.

The Sting:

“Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” vs. 17

You might be saying to yourself, “OK here it is, Ron is going to hit me up for money.  This has all been a set up to talk about money.” But I want to remind you that we are looking at Living with the heart of Jesus this year and this series is 7 Things I Wish Jesus Never Said. “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” is something I wish Jesus never said and let me explain why. Iit’s really simple; because this is a deeper issue than money and the act of giving. It’s giving beyond the money and going to the core of our commitment to God.

Going Beyond The Money

So here’s what I am getting at; this passage goes beyond just handing over some money. It is the whole attitude and thought process behind it.  That’s why Jesus words are so stinging to these religious leaders; they may seem right outwardly but inwardly they just don’t understand or know God and his ways. So let’s look at what Jesus is saying:

Social Responsibility

First, that we all have a social responsibility. Verse 21:

“Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” vs. 21

This answer is cutting to both groups. First to the Pharisee’s because they think they should not have to pay taxes so they only give to the temple in Jewish coins. They don’t feel the need to be socially responsible for those in power even though they are living under their rule.

But 2nd to the Herodians because they don’t give to God. They support Rome but not the church. Both are really off base.

I realize that many people don’t agree with our government and its practices and policies regardless of what political party or group you belong to. And let’s face it, we call complain, and we usually do that real well. As Christians, we have a social responsibility to pay our taxes and support our country. Timothy touches on something that we often may forget.

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior.” 1 Tim. 2:1-3

We are suppose to pray for those in authority. When was the last time you prayed for our leaders, our social programs, the laws that are in place and need to be in place to help the poor, homeless, or less fortunate, prayed about the social needs of our communities, things like health care, etc.

Ex. National Day of Prayer in May and Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast

God Centered Living

But Jesus doesn’t just stop with our need to support our governments. He takes it one more level and talks about God centered  living. I am talking attitude, thought process and more than anything else, it is an issue of the heart. What does it look like to be in the process of turning everything over to God. To continually be working at giving everything to God. So he talks about giving  to Cesar but he also talks about giving to God.

“Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”  vs. 21

Solomon gives us some guidance on this Prov. 23:19:

“Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path…” Prov. 23:19

Obviously the focus here is on the heart. Most of us use our minds to determine our actions. We weight he pros and cons, we rationalize things, we reason them out in our minds so that we can act accordingly. Solomon touches on something very important; you listen to your heart, that inner voice inside you that God gives to lead and direct you. He gives us his Holy Spirit. Here is what I am really trying to get to; God centered living is the process of turning everything over to God, yes everything.

Ex. The Dedication of William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army

I will tell you the secret: God has had all that there was of me. There have been men with greater brains than I, even with greater opportunities, but from the day I got the poor of London on my heart and caught a vision of what Jesus Christ could do with me and them, on that day I made up my mind that God should have all of William Booth there was. And if there is anything of power in the Salvation Army, it is because God has had all the adoration of my heart, all the power of my will, and all the influence of my life.

William Booth

It is important to search our heart to find God’s plan for us and how to live in a way that pleases him.  When that takes place, everything else falls into place. And he supplies the needs for the things He calls us to do.  The missionary J. Hudson Taylor said:

“When God’s work is done in God’s way for God’s glory, it will never lack God’s supply.”
– J. Hudson Taylor

Where Your…

Let me end with a little poem I found from Augustine ( a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province) called Where Your…

Where your pleasure is, there is your treasure;
Where your treasure is, there is your heart;
W here your heart is, there is your happiness.

– Augustine


About ronbow16

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