Tuesday, April 15, 2014
“The Things that Are God’s”
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It’s Tuesday, April 15, 2014, I’m Robert Hatfield and this program delivers daily thoughts for new Christians. This is THE NEW YOU!
But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money.” So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” 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” (Mat. 22:18-21).
Here is one of several examples in the New Testament of Jesus totally silencing those who sought to attack Him. The Pharisees and the Herodians conspired together against Jesus, seeking to “entangle Him in His talk,” according to Matthew 22:15. They use the political issue of taxation, intending to trap Jesus.
They begin their attack with hypocritical flattery: “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” (Mat. 22:16). If they would have meant the words that they spoke, then they would have been showing a great devotion to the Lord. They list four things about Jesus that actually were true, though they didn’t believe them. First, they said that Jesus was true. Then, they said that He taught the truth of God’s way. Third, they said that Jesus was courageous enough to teach the truth even though it might be an unpopular truth. Finally, they said that Jesus showed no partiality. Again, all of these statements were factual regarding the Lord, though the Pharisees and the Herodians did not believe them. They were attempting to build Jesus up, emphasizing His independence.
Now they go in for the attack: “Tell us, therefore, what do You think? It is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” (Mat. 22:17). By “lawful” they mean is it in accordance with the Law of Moses.
The Pharisees and the Herodians would have fallen on both sides of this issue. The Herodians were loyal to Herod, as indicated by their name. They were more of a political sect than a religious one. They understood that Herod’s power came from Rome’s Caesar, and so they were in favor of the tax. The Pharisees, on the other hand, opposed the Roman tax. They did not want to submit to Gentile power. On top of that, they knew that the Roman Caesar was deified and practically (sometimes even literally) worshipped. Furthermore, they felt that they had better use for their money than to give it to Rome.
By asking this question, they felt that Jesus would have to come down on one side of the issue, thus showing partiality to one side over the other and offending His people. Perhaps they even thought that they might could get the Lord for treason if He said that it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar.
Jesus, however, saw right through their petty schemes. Matthew 22:18 says that “Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, ‘Why do you test Me, you hypocrites?’.” Jesus uses this occasion to silence His enemies and to teach those who were listening an important spiritual truth. So Jesus asked for some tax money. Now each ruler would have minted his own coins, putting his own image and inscription on them. Jesus asked, “Whose image and inscription is this?” no doubt, holding up the coin that He had been given. Well, they had to answer “Caesar’s.” Then Jesus gave us this simple, but profound truth: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mat. 22:21).
Let’s wrap it up: The Light Network, of which The New You podcast is a part, is blessed to have an international listening audience, for which we are grateful. For those of us in the United States, April 15 may be a date that makes us cringe: tax day! Today’s examination of Matthew 22 teaches us three important lessons concerning Christians and our country:
First, Christians honor and obey rulers. Romans 13, 1 Peter 2, and 1 Timothy 2 all teach this to be true. We may not – and probably won’t – agree with a lot of what happens in the political arena. Something tells me that our first century Christians had very little in common with the ethics of the political climate in which they lived. However, they were still told to pray for their rulers, to honor the king, and to submit to their rule.
Second, Christians honor and obey God. Jesus said that they are some things that belong to Caesar, and then there are things that belong to God. Of course, everything belongs to God, doesn’t it? And yet, God has given authority to the civil government to rule over our lands (Romans 13). Our chiefest allegiance is to God. Peter and John are great examples here. They said, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
Third, Man bears God’s image and owes God everything. Caesar’s image was on his coin, but God’s image is on man (Gen. 1:26-27).
So, today we pay our taxes as citizens of the United States of America. We thank God for our country and for the lives that He continues to bless in abundance. Yet, we constantly remember that our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20), for we have been created anew in Christ Jesus.
Memory Verse: We focus this week on a great verse about God’s love expressed through His Son’s sacrifice:
Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Sometime today: Let’s return to the seven pillars of unity in Ephesians 4:4-6 and focus upon the phrase “one faith” found there in verse five. What does that mean: “there is one faith”? Why is that important? More on that tomorrow.
Thanks for joining today me on The New You. Archives of this program, episode transcripts, and more Christian podcasts can be found online at thelightnetwork.tv.
Questions, comments, suggestions, and other correspondence is always welcome! My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and my voicemail number is 903-265-4448.
I’ll meet you tomorrow for another edition of The New You.
Today, thank God for your country, and follow Peter’s instructions from 1 Peter 2:16 to be a model citizen: “as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.”