Caesar and God
Rev. William Ilnisky
Monday, 11 June 2018 12:50
Here, the Sanhedrin members return to the attack. Some of the men go to Jesus and asks a question as if it was really troubling their consciences. The tribute to be paid to Caesar was a poll-tax of one denarius about 25 cents in our currency. Every man from 14-65 and every woman from 12-65 had to pay that simply for the privilege of existing. This tribute was a burning question in Israel and had been the cause of more than one rebellion. It was not the merely financial question that was at stake. The tribute was not regarded as a heavy imposition and was in fact, no real burden at all. The issue at stake was this-fanatical Jews claimed that they had no king, but God, and held that it was wrong to pay tribute to anyone other than Him. The question was a religious question for which many were willing to die.
So, then, these men of the Sanhedrin attempted to impale Jesus on the horns of a dilemma. If He said that the tribute should not be paid, they would at once report Him to Pilate and arrest would follow as surely as the night the day. If He said that it should be paid, he would alienate many of His supporters, especially the Galileans, whose support was so strong.
Jesus answered them on their own grounds. He asked to be shown a denarius. Now, in the ancient world, the sign of a kingship was the issue of currency. For instance, the Maccabees had immediately issued their own currency when Jerusalem was freed from the Syrians. Further, it was universally admitted that to have the right to issue currency carried the right to impose taxation. So, Jesus said, "If you accept Caesar's currency, and use it, you are bound to accept Caesar's right to impose taxes"; "but," He went on, "there is a domain in which Caesar's writ does not run, and which belongs wholly to God."
(1) If a man lives in a state and enjoys all its privileges, he cannot divorce himself from it. The more honest a person is, the better citizen he will be. There should be no better, and no more conscientious citizens of any state than its Christians.
One of the tragedies of modern life is that Christians do not sufficiently take their part in the government of the state. If they abandon their responsibilities and leave materialistic politicians to govern, Christians cannot justifiably complain about what is done, or not done.
(2) Nevertheless, it remains true that in the life of the Christian, God has the last word and not the state. The voice of conscience is louder than the voice of any man-made laws. The Christian is at once the servant and the conscience of the state. Just because he is the best of citizens, he will refuse to do what a Christian citizen cannot do. He will at one, and at the same time fear God and honor the king.
Life Application: How active are you in both local, and national elections? Do you actively make your conscience known? Do you pray about elections? It is time for Christians to make their scripture views known. If you don't know what to do, ask your pastor.
Praise/Prayer: Praise God for our freedoms, and the privilege of being followers of our Lord Jesus Christ. Dear Father, thank You for the privileges, and the responsibilities that are ours as we live for You. I covet knowing what You desire, so we know what to pray about. God, the U.S. needs the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Thank You for the privilege of praying for our country. Amen!