Give to God what is God's Mark 12:13-17

The religious leaders were probably infuriated and wanted to seize Jesus yet they feared upsetting the multitudes. Therefore, the Pharisees and Herodians planned to trap Jesus in saying something incriminating and have the governing authorities arrest Him.

Their entrapment was a simple question, “Should we pay or shouldn't we pay taxes to Caesar?” If Jesus said “Yes, we should” then He would be acknowledging Rome’s right to rule over them. This would enrage the multitudes who did not like to pay taxes and who had assumed that the Messiah-King would come deliver them from Rome, not submit to it. Moreover, the small silver denarius (the coin which was used to pay taxes) had images and inscriptions that depicted Caesar as the son of the god Augustus and paying taxes with such coins might be considered blasphemy. In the minds of the Pharisees and Herodians, Jesus was unlikely to sanction paying taxes.

But if Jesus said “No, we should not” then He would be publicly opposing Rome and this would be considered an act of treason. The Pharisees then could have the governing authorities arrest Him. Either way, they thought, Jesus would be caught in His answer.

Jesus stunned the Pharisees and Herodians not only with His exposure of their intent but with His answer to their question. His answer was not only unexpected but left them amazed and probably speechless. Never would they have thought Jesus could get out of this one, but He did. They would not have dreamed that Jesus would teach that taxes belong to Caesar, but He did.

Jesus’ answer helps us understand that duty to God does not eliminate duty to government. However, whenever the demands of God and government clash, we must obey God, rather than men (Acts 5:29).

Spiritual Exercise: Note that Jesus also said, “Give to God what is God's”. Whose image is inscribed on man? Is it not God's? Man is made in the image of God. Who then has the ultimate authority over our lives? To whom is tribute due? What can you give as a tribute to the LORD?


All that I am or ever hope to be I owe it all to Thee. So let me live my life And let it be pleasing, Lord to Thee And should I gain any praise, Let it go to Calvary.

Alan's Gleanings | Copyright © January 2010 by Alan S.L. Wong

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