Luke 19 -- 20
The investigative committee from the Sanhedrin pretended to be interested in following Jesus. On one occasion, the Pharisees conspired against Jesus with the cooperation of the nonreligious political party called the Herodians, who urged submission to Rome (Matthew 22:16). These opposite-thinking groups of people hypocritically said to Jesus: Master, we know that You say and teach what is right, and show no partiality to anyone, but teach the way of God truly: Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not? (Luke 20:21-22).
Since the majority of Jews deeply resented paying taxes to the Gentile Roman government, this "committee" was sure the crowds would quickly turn against Jesus if He said: "Yes." And the Pharisees could also say He was not the Messiah of Israel if He taught subjection to a Gentile government. But if He said: "No," the Herodian party would then accuse Him of conspiracy against the Roman government and Pilate would have Him arrested for treason.
Jesus may have appeared to them to be in a real dilemma, but He perceived their craftiness (deceitful scheming), and said to them . . . Show Me a penny (denarius) -- a Roman coin that was an accepted currency among all Jews. Then Jesus asked: Whose image and superscription does it have? They answered . . . Caesar's. He said to them, Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's. But the rest of His comment came as a stinging rebuke to their hypocrisy when He added: And unto God the things that are God's (20:23-25). While the image upon a coin is representative of governmental authority, man must also submit to a higher authority because he is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Our submission and obedience to God should reveal Him to others by our actions and our demonstration of love and forgiveness, as well as our hatred of sin. The words of Jesus are still true. As the people of God faithfully render to Him the things that are His, the Word of God will be more effectively proclaimed throughout the world.
Some misguided citizens accept the benefits of government, but avoid paying taxes. They ignore the two reasons for paying them. Christians are to pay taxes in order to obey the law, but also as a requirement to please God. We simply cannot ignore His clear command to the Pharisees. Peter, guided by the Holy Spirit, also warned: Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as to them that are sent by Him for the punishment of evildoers (I Peter 2:13-14). Consequently, as a matter of conscience, we declare our income honestly. When the New Testament was written, the government was exceedingly corrupt; but, not one of the writers was led to denounce the government or to suggest withholding the Christian's tax obligation. As Christians, we may deplore how the government uses our tax money, but this does not exempt us from paying what the government requires, obeying its laws, and sincerely praying for kings, and for all that are in authority (I Timothy 2:1-2). For this cause (reason) you pay tribute (taxes). . . . Render (pay) therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute (taxes) is due (Romans 13:6-7; see I Peter 2:13-14).
For Luke 19:38: See Psa. 118:26. Luke 19:46: See Isa. 56:7; Jer. 7:11. Luke 20:17: See Psa. 118:22. Luke 20:28: See Deut. 25:5. Luke 20:37: See Ex. 3:6. Luke 20:42-43: See Psa. 110:1.
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