Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.
Luke 20:1-26 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
On one of the days while He was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted Him, 2 and they spoke, saying to Him, “Tell us by what authority You are doing these things, or who is the one who gave You this authority?” 3 Jesus answered and said to them, “I will also ask you a question, and you tell Me: 4 Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?” 5 They reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” 7 So they answered that they did not know where it came from. 8 And Jesus said to them, “Nor will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
9 And He began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and rented it out to vine-growers, and went on a journey for a long time. 10 At the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, so that they would give him some of the produce of the vineyard; but the vine-growers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 And he proceeded to send another slave; and they beat him also and treated him shamefully and sent him away empty-handed. 12 And he proceeded to send a third; and this one also they wounded and cast out. 13 The owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ 14 But when the vine-growers saw him, they reasoned with one another, saying, ‘This is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What, then, will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others.” When they heard it, they said, “May it never be!” 17 But Jesus looked at them and said, “What then is this that is written:
‘The stone which the builders rejected, This became the chief corner stone’?
18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.”
19 The scribes and the chief priests tried to lay hands on Him that very hour, and they feared the people; for they understood that He spoke this parable against them. 20 So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so that they could deliver Him to the rule and the authority of the governor. 21 They questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You speak and teach correctly, and You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. 22 Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 23 But He detected their trickery and said to them, 24 “Show Me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” 25 And He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 26 And they were unable to catch Him in a saying in the presence of the people; and being amazed at His answer, they became silent.
In today’s text Jesus authority was questioned. It says: the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted Him, and they spoke, saying to Him, “Tell us by what authority You are doing these things, or who is the one who gave You this authority?” Matthew 3:16-17 says: After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” In John 5:19 Jesus said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” Everything that Jesus did and everything that He said and taught, was under the authority of and in alignment with the Father.
In John 10:22-39, Jesus also had an interaction with the religious leaders: Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.I and My Father are one.”Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?”The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.” Jesus answered them… “ If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me;but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believethat the Father is in Me, and I in Him.”Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand. Jesus points to His works, the many good works He did as evidence of His authority from God. James 1:16-17 says: Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. We too need to be careful not to be deceived. Not everything that seems good is from God. What seems good to man, what appeals to and appeases self is not from God. It is every good and perfect gift which comes from God. Everything which, like all that Jesus said and did was and is in alignment with the Father.
True authority will never question why someone is doing good. A good police officer will not question why someone is driving 34 mph in a 35 mph zone. In the same way, true authority will not question the good and Godly things we do. Those who question what is good and Godly are not interested in true authority. In today’s text, the religious leaders, operating in their own false authority, sought to deceive Jesus. They sought to manipulate the law to work against Him. So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so that they could deliver Him to the rule and the authority of the governor. They questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You speak and teach correctly, and You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But He detected their trickery and said to them, “Show Me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” We too, in our society and culture, must deal with some who will try to manipulate the law. They will try to catch us in order to discredit us. Our society and our culture have even gone so far as to change the law so that those who do and say good and perfect things in alignment with God are no longer in alignment with human authority. Isaiah 5:20-21 says: Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! Those who manipulate truth, those who choose darkness over light will be judged by their choice. In John 3:19-21 Jesus says: “This is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
For we who believe, for those who follow Christ, we are to be like Him. We are to do and say what is in alignment with what the Father says and does. We are to do what is good and perfect, what is truth and light so it may be clearly seen that our works are carried out in God. We may need to render to Caesar things that are Caesar’s. The things of this world should not be the things we hold on to. We should render to God the things that are His. All that we do and all that we say, our very lives are His, purchased with the blood of Jesus on the cross. The ones to whom God has given all the fruit and blessings of His kingdom. Jesus says: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit, I am Yours. I choose to walk in Your will and do what is in alignment with what You are doing. I choose to walk with You, in the authority You have given me to do what is good and perfect in Your sight. Amen.