Bible Gem 1164 - What a Brilliant Answer! What did you expect from the Creator of the Universe? (Luk
And watching carefully, they sent spies, pretending themselves to be righteous, in order that they might seize upon a word of His, so as to deliver Him to the power and to the authority of the governor.
And they questioned Him, saying, Teacher, we know that You say and teach rightly, and do not receive a face, but You teach the way of God with truth.
Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?
But perceiving their slyness, He said to them, [Why do you tempt Me?]
Show Me a denarius. Whose image and superscription does it have? And answering, they said, Caesar's.
And He said to them, Then give back the things of Caesar to Caesar, and the things of God to God.
And they were not able to lay hold of His speech before the people. And marveling at His answer, they were silent.(Luke 20:20–26) [LITV]
I left you yesterday with the pieces to put together. I wonder if you recall from Gem 1151 that I told you there were coins sold at the temple, which did not have Caesar's image on them because the image of a man on a coin was an affront to Judaism. So the merchants had special coinage on sale with which the people could pay for their offerings. The problem with the image goes back to the Law of Moses and the statement about having no graven images. For many of the Jewish hierarchy, the image of Caesar on the coin was a matter of allegiance. Hence, the strength of the combination of the forces arrayed against Jesus when the question was asked.
Note that it is a simple [yes] or [no] question. Kind of like, are you still beating your wife? It doesn’t matter whether I answer "Yes" or "No" to that question. Either way it is wrong. If Jesus answered "Yes" to the question posed to Him, then He would be condemned for being Pro Roman Empire by the Teachers of the Law and Pharisees, for daring to think that is all right to pay tribute to Caesar, the Roman Emperor. The early Christians adopted the saying, "Jesus is Lord" to counter the required "Caesar is Lord". It was a big issue.
On the one hand, if He were to answer "No" to the question, then He would be condemned for being against the Roman Empire by the Herodians. Either way He cannot win. Answer "Yes" or "No" to the Yes/No question and they convicted you. One group or another are begging for His blood. There seemed no way out. They were certain they had Him trapped. It has all been worked out beforehand. I am sure they were rubbing their hands with delight at the thought. I am equally sure they would have wanted Him to say "No". Because a "No" would mean they could ask for capital punishment. Death by Crucifixion. They figured that He was straight to the point and willing to call a spade a spade, on the basis of Him being "orthos" and "dikaios". They couldn't imagine Him not saying that God's way was the only way, and therefore telling the people not to pay their taxes and not pay homage to the Emperor. They bargained on the fact that Jesus was forthright and true to the Word of God. The reason they were intent on Him making the statement in front of the people, was because if He spoke such things before the crowd, then He was guilty of sedition; of inciting the people to reject the Roman rule and that was an offense punishable by death.
You can imagine them all waiting with bated breath for Jesus answer. "Either way, we've got Him". If He answered "no" they turn Him over to the Roman authorities on charges of treason. If He answered "yes" they can convince the crowd that He is not being true to God's Word and He is an impostor. He is clearly no Messiah if He can encourage the people to dilute their devotion and worship to God. All are hanging on Jesus answer. I am sure the crowd also held their breath. This is out in front of everyone because the Leaders wanted it public so they could trap Him. They knew He would not back off the things of God's claim on the lives of the people, to appease the Romans, so they had Him. We all know Jesus' answer by now. It is a matter of public record that has gone down in the annuls of history.
"Whose image and superscription does it have?" And answering, they said, "Caesar's".
And He said to them, "Then give back the things of Caesar to Caesar, and the things of God to God."
Whose image and inscription is on the coin? Tiberius Caesar's of course. It has the image of Caesar on it and it has the words TI(BERIVS) CAESAR DIVI AVGVSTI F(ILIVS) AVGVSTVS on it. So give Caesar his coin. No problem. It is his; it has his image on it. But give to God the things of God. What is Jesus meaning when He says that? What is it we should give to God? Should we pay tithe? What should we do?
What is the image on the coin? Caesar's. Then give it to Caesar. What is the image on you? God's. Then give yourself to God. Jesus is taking them back to the Old Testament and reminding them whose they are. Oh, the Pharisees and Experts in the Law were using the Law to create the dichotomy between images on coins and not paying homage to Caesar and all of that minutae of the law the experts were pushing forward. Jesus, in one masterful stroke cuts through it all, and challenges them to put into the action the First Commandment. Love the Lord you God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Whose are you? God's. Then give to God His due offering too. Give Caesar his coin and give God yourself. You are made in the image of God. So give God his possession back again. The bearers of God's image must give to God His due. They must recognize God's prior claim on their lives. They are His. So by all means, pay Caesar his tax but don't give him your allegiance and your worship.
You are not His, you are God's, act accordingly. Paying taxes is a minor issue when compared to life allegiance. There is no comeback to that one. The opposition are speechless. Their question, carefully designed to trap Him, has failed. They have nothing to say. As we all waited on the moment with bated breath it reminded me of the song -
Hanging By A Moment by Lifehouse
Desperate for changing Starving for truth Closer to where I started I’m chasing after you
I'm falling even more in love with you Letting go of all I've held onto I'm standing here until you make me move I'm hanging by a moment here with you.
Forgetting all I'm lacking Completely incomplete I'll take your invitation You take all of me
I'm falling even more in love with you Letting go of all I've held onto I'm standing here until you make me move I'm hanging by a moment here with you
I'm living for the only thing I know I'm running and not quite sure where to go I don't know what I'm diving into Justhanging by a moment here with you
There is nothing else to lose There is nothing else to find There is nothing in the world That could change my mind There is nothing else
That's it isn't it? Summed up perfectly.
There is nothing else in the world that could make you change your mind. Give to God what's His. YOU!
Give to governments, kings and emperors what's theirs but don't give them your worship. That belongs to only One. God.
After that there is no point quoting anyone else! That says it all. Just stand in open-mouthed amazement and gaze at the One who did it all for you.
We will move on to the next curly question that Jesus was asked so you can spend some time looking at it for yourself before I start.