“Well then,” Jesus told them, “give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” – Jesus, Luke 20:25 (CSB)
In Luke 20, the religious leaders ramped up their efforts in order to arrest Jesus, even sending spies among the crowds. Attempting to get him to say something against Rome, or attempting to get him to say something in favor of Rome in a way that would turn the crowd against him, some asked him about paying taxes. Was it lawful for them, as Jews, to pay taxes to Caesar? If Jesus said no, then he would be labeled an insurrectionist; if Jesus said yes, then he would be a Roman sympathizer.
In response, Jesus asked for a Roman coin and asked them who’s image it bore. They replied with, “Caesar’s.” So Jesus told them to give to Caesar what belonged to Caesar and to God what belonged to God.
Not only did Jesus affirm a respect for authorities that included paying due taxes, but he also reminded them and us of our greater purpose. In Genesis 1, as God created humanity, he described us as his image bearers. So, it might be true that our coins belong to Caesar, but greater still our lives belong to God.
This takes on new meaning through Jesus. In our rebellion against God, we could not kick off his sovereignty. He is still King and Righteous Judge. So, he has the right in the end to condemn us for our sin. Yet, if we belong to Jesus by faith then our lives belong to him in a new way. He has redeemed us from the great debt we could never repay. But he didn’t pay this debt to make us his slaves but his sons and daughters.
He is still the Sovereign King, but he welcomes us and relates to us as a Father to his child. When we give ourselves to him, we entrust every aspect of our being to the all-wise One who will never steer us wrong but will lead us into eternal pleasures and joys.
When he tells us to obey, it’s not to rob us of things that are good, but to lead us to that which is infinitely better. So, we give ourselves to him and we find true and abundant life. Yes, our coins might belong to Caesar, but we belong to God. Let us embrace that and run to him for joy everlasting.