Matthew 22:15–22 (NKJV, also appearing in Mark 12:13–17; Luke 20:20–26)
15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. 16 And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. 17 Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”
18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? 19 Show Me the tax money.”
So they brought Him a denarius.
20 And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?”
21 They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”
And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.
Jesus is again tested by the religious leaders concerning a practical matter which was being debated by religious people after Jesus began to teach a better way. Should Jews pay taxes to the Roman government? Jesus again scolded them for their conniving and sneaky attack, calling them hypocrites. He used a denarius to explain what was His will. Whose inscription is on the coin? Caesar’s. Then give Caesar what is his, and God what is His. They were stunned, and left Him for a time.
Jesus demonstrated His depthless wisdom in this exchange. He showed them the way through a direct example that left no questions as to the answer to the question. Jesus makes it clear that Christians should be good citizens, supporting the government and the laws of the land, including taxation. Jesus wanted His Christians to be part of the world while still having an unswerving and resolute devotion to Him. Be a law-abiding citizen, but be a better Christian. Pay your taxes, but also pay your tithes. Obey the laws of God first, but also obey the laws of the land. You will get further in this life with God as your priority, and your nation as your project. Serve God fully and first, be loyal to country next, and do both to the best of your ability. But don’t quibble. Be Humble and resolute at the same time. But never forget the order of priority: God first, others second, self last.
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