Our verse today is the answer Jesus gave to the people who were doing their best to trap Him by His words. Jesus wouldn’t be popular if He spoke out in favour of paying taxes to the hated Romans. And He would be in danger if He gave voice to the sentiment of common people, which was ‘No money to the Romans! At least let’s show some civil disobedience!’
The coins bore Caesar`s picture, and pictures of men were not allowed for Jews, by the law of Moses. But, not being free to make their own decisions, the Jews reluctantly accepted the use of Roman coins. Not in the temple though. So this created business for the moneychangers.
Jesus` shrewd answer was not just a way out of a difficult situation. It was a strong exhortation to those who listened to do what they could and should, instead of discussing the things they couldn’t do anything about. ‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s’ might mean ‘the Emperor has the right to demand the use of the coins bearing his image’, but then the inevitable question arises, ‘What should we give to God?’ Of course the answer is ‘that which bears His image’. Ourselves. We’re created in the image of God.
Paying taxes or not was a very political question. Offering ourselves to God is an entirely different thing. Politics is a topic for many discussions, and, yes, it’s an unavoidable part of our daily life. But it’s not life itself. There are more important things: The things of God. And they should be part of our daily life, not only of our Sunday life. Offering ourselves to God may seem to be something separated from our daily chores, but Jesus time and time again showed us this is to be done in daily life, at home and in the workplace.
The enemy so often makes us spend a long time discussing things we can do very little about, and so he steals the time we could be using for the things we can do.
‘Let your light shine before men’, Jesus said. Those who give themselves to God will be doing just that. ‘You are the salt of the earth’ (not of the church!). Same here, if you give yourself to God, there will be the ‘saltiness’ in your life. That makes an impact on the world.
In some parts of the world ‘Caesar’ is demanding more than he has a right to, but God never does. He never demands anything. He asks for it. But that doesn’t make it less important to render to Him what He has a right to. Giving, or not giving, to Him what is His, is simply to choose between blessing and no blessing, as the people of Israel were so vividly taught in Deuteronomy chapter 28.
Today we’re called to have the right priorities and the right balance in our life. We’re in the world, and will never live without a Caesar, who may be good or bad. But we’re also in the Kingdom, and we can give ourselves to God, which ‘is your spiritual act of worship’ according to Romans 12:1.
You are created to be like your heavenly Father. So now, whatever you do, and wherever you are, He asks you to offer yourself to Him Then your life will make an impact, even when you can´t say a word of testimony. And the smile of your Father, and His blessing, will be your reward.