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Give to Caesar

October 3, 2013 Leave a comment

In addition to the Pharisees, there is a religious sect in Roman-occupied Israel called the Sadducees. They are religious conservatives holding to an ancient tradition in Judaism that doesn’t believe in an afterlife. Their disbelief in an afterlife seems to make them conclude, “There’s only one life, and this is it, so you’d better play it safe.” That means they are very happy to collaborate with the Romans—and make a healthy profit—rather than risk any kind of rebellion or revolt. For this reason, they are closely allied with another group called the Herodians, allies of Caesar’s puppet king Herod. Their contemporaries, the Pharisees, who believe in an afterlife, are more prone to risk their lives in a rebellion since they hope martyrs will be rewarded with resurrection. For this reason, the Pharisees are closely allied with the Zealots, who are more overtly revolutionary. Each group tries to trap Jesus, but He turns the tables on them, using each encounter to shed more light on the message of the kingdom of God. In case after case, Jesus brings His hearers to the heart of the matter; and again and again, the bottom-line issue is money.

Chief Priests, Religious Scholars, and Elders: Teacher, we respect You because You speak and teach only what is right, You show no partiality to anyone, and You truly teach the way of God. So—is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar’s occupying regime, or should we refuse?

He saw through their transparent trick.

Jesus: [Why are you trying to trick Me?] Show Me a coin. Whose image and name are on this coin?

Chief Priests, Religious Scholars, and Elders: Caesar’s.

Jesus: Well then, you should give to Caesar whatever is Caesar’s, and you should give to God whatever is God’s.

Once again they failed to humiliate Him in public or catch Him in a punishable offense. They were confounded by His reply and couldn’t say anything in response (vv. 21-26, The Voice).

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Categories: jesus, luke
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