Pay 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 declared, saying to Him, “Tell us by what authority You are doing these things, or who is the one who gave You this authority?” 3 But He replied 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 discussed 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, since they are convinced that John was a prophet.” 7 And so they answered that they did not know where it came from. 8 And Jesus said to them, “Neither am I telling you by what authority I do these things.”
9 But He began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and leased it 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 his share 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; but they beat him also and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. 12 And he proceeded to send a third; but this one too they wounded and threw out. 13 Now the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What am I to do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ 14 But when the vine-growers saw him, they discussed with one another, saying, ‘This is the heir; let’s kill him so that the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 And 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 put these vine-growers to death, and will give the vineyard to others.” However, when they heard this, they said, “May it never happen!” 17 But Jesus looked at them and said, “Then what is this statement that has been written:
‘A stone which the builders rejected, This has become the chief cornerstone’?
18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will crush him.”
19 The scribes and the chief priests tried to lay hands on Him that very hour, and yet they feared the people; for they were aware that He had spoken this parable against them. 20 And so they watched Him closely, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so that they could hand Him over to the jurisdiction and authority of the governor. 21 And the spies questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You speak and teach correctly, and You are not partial to anyone, but You teach the way of God on the basis of truth. 22 Is it permissible for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 23 But He saw through their trickery and said to them, 24 “Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” 25 And He said to them, “Then pay 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 statement in the presence of the people; and they were amazed at His answer, and said nothing.
In today’s text it says: The scribes and the chief priests tried to lay hands on Him that very hour, and yet they feared the people; for they were aware that He had spoken this parable against them. And so they watched Him closely, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so that they could hand Him over to the jurisdiction and authority of the governor. And the spies questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You speak and teach correctly, and You are not partial to anyone, but You teach the way of God on the basis of truth. Is it permissible for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But He saw through their trickery and said to them, “Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Then pay to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were unable to catch Him in a statement in the presence of the people; and they were amazed at His answer, and said nothing.
This is not as much about whether we should pay taxes to the government, as it is about what we are to give to God. The question was intended to trick or trap Jesus, but His answer is simple and straight forward for us. Psalm 89:11-12 says: The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; The world and all it contains, You have established them. The north and the south, You have created them. By that same assessment, we also are His. He has created and established us. We then should give all that we have and all that we are to Him. Not only are we God’s creation, but 1 Corinthians 6:20 says: You have been bought for a price: therefore glorify God in your body. So even our bodies are His. Verses 18-19 say: Flee sexual immorality. Every other sin that a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? Colossians 3:17 says: Whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. What we need to realize, is that if we are called or known by the name of Christ, then all that we do and say is in His name. The only question then is does what we do and say glorify God?
More than that our words and actions are recognized as being in His name in the sight and hearing of people, nothing that we say or do is hidden from God. May the words of Psalm 139 be our acknowledgement, our declaration and prayer.
Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I get up; You understand my thought from far away. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, Lord, You know it all. You have encircled me behind and in front, And placed Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot comprehend it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take up the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will take hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” Even darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You. For You created my innermost parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, because I am awesomely and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You When I was made in secret, and skillfully formed in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my formless substance; And in Your book were written All the days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. How precious also are Your thoughts for me, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You… Search me, God, and know my heart; Put me to the test and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there is any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way. Amen