Caesar and God

John Koedyker

Read: Mark 12:13-17

They sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. (v. 13)

Once again, the religious leaders think they can outsmart Jesus. If Jesus answers that it’s wrong to pay taxes to Caesar, they can report him to the Romans and have him arrested. But if he says it’s lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, he will be regarded as a traitor to the Jewish cause.

Jesus, however, answers with words not only smart, but right. And the answer still holds today: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” About these words William Barclay says, “Never did any man lay down a more influential principle. It conserved at one and the same time the civil and the religious power” (Daily Study Bible).

Jesus realizes that we human beings have a responsibility on two levels, both to God and to the state. We have both a spiritual responsibility to support the church and a civil responsibility to support the government.

My father-in-law was a great example of this. For years he served his church as deacon, elder, and Sunday school teacher. But he also served his community as mayor for seventeen years. Yes, as the apostle Paul says, our true citizenship is in heaven, but while on earth, we also owe something to the state. —John Koedyker

As you pray, ask God to help you give to Caesar and to God what is due them.