“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Mark 11:27-12:17 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
They came again to Jerusalem. And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to Him, 28 and began saying to Him, “By what authority are You doing these things, or who gave You this authority to do these things?” 29 And Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question, and you answer Me, and then I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30 Was the baptism of John from heaven, or from men? Answer Me.” 31 They began reasoning among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ 32 But shall we say, ‘From men’?”—they were afraid of the people, for everyone considered John to have been a real prophet. 33 Answering Jesus, they said, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Nor will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
12 And He began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard and put a wall around it, and dug a vat under the wine press and built a tower, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey. 2 At the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, in order to receive some of the produce of the vineyard from the vine-growers. 3 They took him, and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Again he sent them another slave, and they wounded him in the head, and treated him shamefully. 5 And he sent another, and that one they killed; and so with many others, beating some and killing others. 6 He had one more to send, a beloved son; he sent him last of all to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 7 But those vine-growers said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours!’ 8 They took him, and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. 9 What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vine-growers, and will give the vineyard to others. 10 Have you not even read this Scripture:
‘The stone which the builders rejected, This
became the chief corner stone;
11 This came about from the Lord, And it is marvelous in our eyes’?”
12 And they were seeking to seize Him, and yet they feared the people, for they understood that He spoke the parable against them. And so they left Him and went away.
13 Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement. 14 They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we pay or shall we not pay?” But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at.” 16 They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” 17 And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him.
Today’s text says: Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement. They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? Shall we pay or shall we not pay?” But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at.” They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him. This is more than just about whether we should pay taxes or not. Even though they may be unfair or even illegal, as citizens of the nation we must pay the taxes that are levied against us. Romans 13:1-7 says: Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Keep in mind that Paul wrote this while he himself was imprisoned by the cruel and authoritarian Roman government; the same government under which Jesus Himself suffered crucifixion in complete submission to the Father. Notice though that you can pay your taxes even to those to whom no honor or respect is due.
In truth, what Jesus is talking about is what are priorities are and where our true allegiance lies. Are we more concerned with our citizenship on earth or in heaven? Many people today are far more concerned about their earthly rights than they are about the righteousness of the kingdom of heaven. Many are more concerned about paying their taxes than giving their tithes. In Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus says: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Colossians 3:17 says: Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. If we will view our submission to earthly authority as to God’s authority, God will bless us. It is not as though we need to point out where the government is not aligned with God, to God. He knows all and sees all. Daniel 2:20-21 says: Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him. It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding. If God wants an individual or a government to be removed, they will be removed. Just though, as God has given each individual person the right to choose between good and evil; between obedience and defiance, we as a nation also have a part in choosing who will lead us, both in the natural and in God’s plan. God gave Israel king Saul even though He warned them it would not be good for them. He allows us also to choose, even if we make the wrong choices. If we though will truly apply the principle of Colossians 3:17, Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father, to our election process, we will not; we could not vote for those who oppose God. If we vote as though we were voting on God’s behalf; as in the name of the Lord, we could not possibly vote for individuals or a party that stands for the murder of babies in the womb; who support blatant immorality and who oppose the very truth of creation in Genesis 1:26-27: Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. In the text, Jesus says: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Our lives are God’s. He created us in His image and likeness. We should then render our lives to God.
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit, that while You give us the freedom to choose, You are still Sovereign and omnipotent. May I truly live by the principle of Colossians 3:17: Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. May I render all that I have, all that I do and all that I am to You. Amen.