Prayer for the day
May God give us his blessing, and may all the ends of the earth stand in awe of him.
Scripture for the day
“Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.”
Jesus spoke these words to the Pharisees in order to evade their trap. They were trying to snare Jesus by presenting a seemingly impossible question: should the Jewish people, the children of God, pay to their Roman overlords the taxes which they considered wrong, or should they withhold? Both were unpopular answers, one with the Jewish people, and the other with the Romans.
Jesus sidesteps the question by showing that the money is already Caesar’s…it bears his face already. But Jesus adds what must be one of the most difficult verses in scripture: give to God what is God’s.
The Israelites were learning the same thing. Moses was careful to lay out for them the importance of dedicating everything they had and were to their YHWH God. This YHWH did not require a lot of sacrifices, necessarily, nor did they have to do elaborate rituals to please Him. They simply needed to give this YHWH absolutely everything, and He would prosper them.
The Israelites and the Pharisees (and we) were faced with the same proposal: will you commit everything to YHWH, or will you hold something back?
Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees was brutal, not because it was crafty, but because he exploded their (and our) ideas of what belongs to whom. In Jesus’ economy, nothing truly belongs to Caesar, because everything in the end belongs to this YHWH God.
Jesus places the same colossal requirement before his people today. Should we pay taxes? Where does our money belong? At the end of the day, Jesus calls those questions irrelevant, not because they’re unimportant, but because they miss the most important question of all: what will you do with your EVERYTHING?