Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s

Published 10:10 pm Saturday, April 20, 2024

By Dean Kelly

This past Monday was “Tax Day” in America. I don’t know anyone who loves Tax Day. I’m not sure the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) workers even like it. But a dislike for paying taxes is by no means a new one.

Tax collectors in the time of Jesus were despised. Often they cheated the taxpayers by collecting more than the actual tax and keeping it. So, when the first century Jewish people spoke of wicked people they would say, “Tax Collectors (publicans) and sinners.” They condemned Jesus for eating with these “awful” people.

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With that background the Bible writers record an attempt to trap Jesus made by the Pharisees and Herodians. They asked if the people should pay taxes. They figured that if Jesus said, “yes,” that the people would turn against Him. If he said, “no,” then they could report Him as in rebellion to the Roman government. They felt that surely they had Him this time. Note this exchange:

The disciples asked, “‘Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?’ But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, ‘Why do you test Me? Bring Me a denarius that I may see it.’ So, they brought it. And, He said to them, ‘Whose image and inscription is this?’ They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And Jesus answered and said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at Him” (Mark 12:15-17).

Now we are compelled to pay taxes to the government or face consequences. We are invited to render to God what is His. The gift of Jesus on the cross can only be effective in our lives if we render to God our faithful obedience to His marvelous gospel.

Pay your taxes like you should. But, above all, give yourself to God.

Dean Kelly is minister at Highland Home Church of Christ.