Render to Caesar, or Paying Taxes to the Government
15 Then the Pharisees went and took counsel how to entangle him in his talk. 16 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true, and teach the way of God truthfully, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men.
17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”
18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites?
19 Show me the money for the tax.” And they brought him a coin. 20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said, “Caesars.” Then he said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesars, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22
When they heard it, they marveled; and they left him and went away. Matt. 22:15-22 (c.f. Mark 12:13; Luke 20:19-26)
The plot to entangle Jesus in his own words was intended to trip him up. In these last few days before Jesus would face death on a cross, they desperately wanted him to make “a mistake” in His teachings hoping to separate the crowds from following him.
The disciples of the Pharisee’s spoke to Jesus in patronizing admiration, saying he was teaching God truthfully. They were really taunting the Messiah quite disrespectfully. The Pharisee’s emissaries were hoping to get him to agree to pay taxes to the Jews vicious oppressors, the Romans. This would get him in trouble with the people.
FYI: The Herodians were a subset of Sadducees. They were the sons of Mariamne one of the wives of King Herod. They were called Boethusians by the Rabbis because Mariamne was the daughter of Boethus.
So the trap was set, if Messiah said we must pay taxes, many of the people would have rejected and walked out on Him. If, He said we must not pay taxes, then the Pharisee’s would have a reason to ask the Romans to arrest Him.
He asks that they show Him this Roman coin. In English this doesn’t seem very important. However, Caesar’s image was on the coin and Caesar claimed to be a Roman god.
The word for “likeness” in Hebrew is “IMAGE”. So, what He actually asked them was Who’s IMAGE is this? The minute those words fell from His lips, the spiritual leaders knew that they were the fools. The second commandment is:
4 “You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Ex. 20:4 -6
They were so greedy that they had allowed this Roman coin with a Roman god on it, into their hearts. He was not telling them to pay taxes. He told them to give the Roman god back to the Romans. He was telling them to put their God before their greed.
“Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesars, and to God the things that are God’s.” Matt. 22:21
Once more in these finale days of His life Messiah demonstrated that the religion of the temple was corrupt and needed to be replaced.
Next Week: The Sadducees