Fulfil your responsibilities and prioritize your devotion to God.
The Passion Week of Christ is filled with political and spiritual pressure on Jesus. In our text for this week, a group sent from the political and religious leaders was sent to Jesus in an attempt to entrap him to endorse Rome as a legitimate authority over the nation of Israel or approve of the nationalists who believed that Rome should be resisted. As far as this group was concerned, they could turn the crowds of the Roman official officials against him. They wanted to rid themselves of this rabbi Jesus who they could not control and who threatened their religious and political power.
The question was straightforward, “should we pay taxes to Caesar or not?” For us, the answer would seem simple. Yes, people should pay taxes even if they don’t want to. For the Jews, this issue was very complex. The tax reminded them of the domination of Rome over their lives and the Roman disdain for the very Word of God. The Jewish nation longed for freedom from Caesar and the very thought of providing him the resources to continue his power over them was repulsive. If Jesus told them that they should not pay taxes, this group could use his answer to drag Jesus before the authorities and charge him with inciting a possible rebellion against Rome. Either way would work for them. They thought they had Jesus trapped.
However, Jesus was not ensnared in their plot! Jesus masterfully brought the issues of taxes and discipleship to the forefront of everyone’s mind with his answer. He asked whose image and inscription was on a Roman coin. The answer was, ”Caesar’s.” Jesus then replied to give Caesar what was his and to give God what is His. The image and inscription on the coin already identified ownership and in a sense, Caesar already owned all of the coins with his image and inscription on them. It would be easy for the Jews to acknowledge that they were giving to Caesar what was, in reality, already his. Using the same analogy, Jesus told the crowd to give God was was His. God’s people bear His image (Romans 8:29) and His inscription (Hebrews 10:16 as a fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:31-34); therefore, they were to give themselves first to God and to follow Him.
The questioners were astonished and silenced. They marveled at Jesus’ answer. Jesus resolved both the political issue before him and highlighted the loving response they were to have for their Heavenly Father.
If we asked Jesus a similar question, “What should we do about. . .?”, he would undoubtedly give us the same answer – Fulfil your responsibilities and prioritize your devotion to God. We bear God’s image and have His ways written on our hearts. The result of His work in our lives is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Actions we can take this week are to review this truth, prioritize our relationship with God, and to find ways to live out love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control as an expression of our devotion to Him.