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  • Writer's pictureCody Chesser

“Render to Caesar…”

Updated: Mar 9

All throughout the life of Jesus, He teaches lessons in very similar ways. Jesus often uses earthly things to teach a spiritual message. When he does that, we have to be sure that we focus on the spiritual lesson to be made, not as much on the earthly aspect of things.

For example, when Jesus teaches the lesson about sowing the seed to the different types of soil, it’s not a lesson in gardening. It’s a lesson about the hearts of men, and spreading the Gospel. When Jesus teaches about the unforgiving servant and the debt he owed his master, its not a lesson in finance. It's a lesson about the forgiveness and mercy we get from God and how we should extend that to others.

I say all this, because I think there is a text in our Bible, that many people often go to and focus too much on the earthly portion of the teaching.

In Matthew 22, the Pharisees make an attempt to catch Jesus in his own words. They ask him the question about whether it is lawful or not to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus’ response is not what they were expecting. He says, “Show me a coin for tax” in vs. 19. He asks the men, “Whose image is on this coin?” to which the men respond, “Caesar’s”. Jesus says to them,

“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”

So many people turn to this text to teach that Jesus said it’s acceptable to pay taxes, and they aren’t wrong. But is that the point? As I said, Jesus’ main point or points are typically not the earthly portion of the teaching.

I think there is a lesson being taught that is more important than taxes.

In parallel to taxes, Jesus also says give to God the things that are God’s. How do we know what belongs to God? Here lies the connection to the earthly part of Jesus' teaching. We know what belongs to God, the same way we knew what belonged to Caesar. We knew what belonged to Caesar by what bore his image. So what belongs to God, must be something that bears his image. What might that be?

In Genesis chapter 1, God tells us what has his image. In vs. 27 the text says, “God created man in his own image. In the image of God he created him: male and female he created them”.

We bear the image of God.

Because we bear the image of God, we ought to "give to God the things that are God’s." (Vs 21). We must give ourselves to God.

If we don’t pay our taxes, the IRS will come collecting, because that money belongs to the government. But more so, if we don’t give ourselves to God, he will come collecting, but he is going to take a lot more than our money. God has the power to destroy both body and soul, (Matthew 10:28), and he will, if not given what he deserves. We must give ourselves to him in a few ways:

  1. In worship: we need to devote ourselves to worshipping God. Give ourselves to him for his glory and his praise.

  2. In spirit: our hearts should be his. We should give our hearts fully to him, devoting ourselves to his work and his will.

  3. In death: we need to give ourselves to him, by giving everything up for him; everything we have been in this life.

That’s what we are to do as Christians. Give every part of ourselves to God. He created us. He gave us life. We bear his image. So we belong to him. Have you given yourself to God? Do you continually give to God, all you have and all that you are?

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