The religious leaders decided to try to trick Jesus into saying something that would turn the people and the Roman authorities against him. So they sent their disciples to him with a loaded question:
“Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”
But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.
(Matthew 22:15-22; Mark 12:13-17; Luke 20:20-26)
The question was designed to make look Jesus bad no matter how he answered. If he said “yes,” it would show loyalty to Caesar instead of God. If he said “no,” he would be disobeying the law and the leaders could report him to the authorities and have him arrested.
Never try to trap Jesus. His answer blew their minds and sent ’em away muttering.
Sure, we should pay our taxes. But God is after something muuuuuch deeper than that. Everything belongs to him. He wants our ♥s. He wants an intimate relationship with us. He wants us to know him and to trust him. He wants our LOVE. As Jesus said, the #1 command is:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
Give God all you’ve got. There’s no other way to live.
(Image credit: Shutterstock.com / Sementer)