Read – Mark 12: 13-17
The Pharisees were a religious sect that believed in a strict and burdensome observance of the Law. They objected to Roman occupation and looked for a coming Messiah to free Israel from Roman rule. The Herodians, on the other hand, were a non-religious group that collaborated with the Roman government through the Herod dynasty. Under normal circumstances, these two groups would be in direct opposition to one another, but their hatred of Jesus drew them together to conspire against Him.
“Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” they asked.
The question, of course, is a trap. To answer ‘no’ would invite the charge of treason against Rome. To answer ‘yes’ would suggest disloyalty to the nation of Israel.
Jesus’ answer to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” distinguishes two kingdoms. The kingdom of this world is governed by men and requires payment of taxes and respect for the law as far as it does not require disobedience to God’s commands. The conflict between laws of government and laws of God can justify civil disobedience as in the examples of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel 3), Daniel (Daniel 6), and Peter (Acts 4).
At present, the kingdom of God is not of this world. (John 18:36) While money is stamped with the image and inscription of Caesar, we are stamped with the image of God and commanded to offer our bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1) in our love, obedience, and worship of God. Offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. (Romans 6:13)
Reflection and Application: What am I required to give to God?
Have I ever given things that belong to God to the government instead? When?
With whom am I willing to align myself in pursuit of a political cause?
When have I experienced conflict between what God requires in Scripture and what the government requires? What was my response?
Pray: Lord God, may my allegiance to you be greater than allegiance to anything else.