Luke 20:19-26 “The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately,.… Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be honest. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. So the spies questioned him:.. Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?’ He saw through their duplicity and said to them, ‘Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?’ ‘Caesar’s,’ they replied. He said to them, ‘Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.’ They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.”
I can’t tell you how many times I have poured over the Bible trying to find a government that was democratic so we would have some idea of how to live in these days. What are we to give to “Caesar” and what belongs to God? I mean, we are dealing with the issues of healthcare, walls, and global warming. Add to that the idea of where freedom starts and stops in the areas of rallies, the press, gun rights, and bathroom use.
I have read books and articles by so many people who all seem to know what Jesus would be saying and doing if he were physically walking among us. Yet, as I read the Gospels, the people who were with him 24/7 failed miserably when they tried to put words in Jesus mouth.
Disciples – Should we send these people away? Jesus– No, lets feed them.
Disciples – Keep the children away from Jesus. Jesus – No, let them come near.
Disciples – Should we call down fire on your enemies? Jesus – No, (with a rebuke) “Love them”
These seem obvious, but there are hard sayings that I would have a problem with in my own life
Lazarus is sick, we (friends of Jesus) should go and heal him, Jesus – No, I am not going to do that right now.
Some Greeks wanted to speak to Jesus and he ignored them. (John 12: 20 – 27)
Jesus thought it was great when the Temple took the last two pennies from a poor woman (Luke 21: 1 – 4). A person brings a gift costing a whole years salary to Jesus and rather than use it to give to the poor, they pour it out on the floor and Jesus praises her for doing it.
If the people who lived with Jesus got it it wrong so often, what makes me think I know exactly what Jesus would say and how he would act in every situation? We get stirred up about issues and use the words of Jesus to justify our actions. We have become obsessed with what belongs to Caesar and have fallen short of giving God what is his. We have fallen into the trap that Jesus was able to avoid.
Hosea warns us that this trap has made us consume our leaders by burning them in the oven. We have killed our kings one after another, yet no one prays (Hosea 7: 6, 7). We have done this to President Obama and are now doing it to President Trump we “hold them to the fire.” We forget that they are just Caesars who are also in need of Jesus, yet if we have five minutes with them, that may be the last subject that we would venture to bring up.
Everywhere I look I see misery and evil deeds. I see destruction and violence. I am surrounded by people who love to argue and fight. The government has become paralyzed and there is no justice for the poor. These words were penned by Habakkuk in 620 B.C, the difference is Habakkuk was voicing the nations problems before God in prayer seeking His help in meeting the needs around Him. He recognized that there was a time that Caesar was helpless to deal with what was happening and only God could bring lasting change. Like the spies who tried to trap Jesus, when He had a taste of the awesomeness of the God he served Habakkuk was silent before Him (Habakkuk 2: 20).
Teach us to be silent and look toward you oh Sovereign Lord our strength (Habakkuk 3: 19).