GOD AND CAESAR

NOTE: THIS ARTICLE is a reprint from the blog of reverend Kevin Rogers of New Song Church in Windsor, Ontario and is reproduced here for your convenience. You can visit the his blog called "The Orphan Age" HERE.

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If you are ever on the stand in a civil or criminal court case, the prosecutor will have specific strategies to turn your testimony toward their agenda. A deliberate practice is to ask “yes” or “no” questions and not give you the opportunity for you to explain your answer.

 

The close-ended questions lawyers ask, often begin with “is it possible” or “isn’t it true” because those questions may be more difficult to answer with a “no.” A lawyer wouldn’t start off by asking a defendant, “Did you murder your mother?” Singer says. Instead, a lawyer would say, “Isn’t it true you had problems with your mother? Is it possible there was a knife in the house that day?” It drives witnesses crazy when they have to answer “yes” without explaining themselves.[1]

 

Similarly, groups will sometimes polarize others by saying, “If you are not with us, you are against us.” In doing so, they remove the opportunity to change their mind on a matter. They also believe that the slightest disagreement with their belief indicates that there is no middle ground or a third way. They are convinced that it has to be either/or.

 

Increasingly, we need discernment and communication if we are to be peacemakers and advocates for the Kingdom of God.

 

Watch this:

 

 

Mark 12:

13 Later The Religious Leaders Sent Some Of The Pharisees And Herodians To Jesus. They Wanted To Trap Him With His Own Words. 14 They Came To Him And Said, “Teacher, We Know That You Are A Man Of Honor. You Don’t Let Other People Tell You What To Do Or Say. You Don’t Care How Important They Are. But You Teach The Way Of God Truthfully. Is It Right To Pay The Royal Tax To Caesar Or Not? 15 Should We Pay, Or Shouldn’t We?”

But Jesus Knew What They Were Trying To Do. So He Asked, “Why Are You Trying To Trap Me? Bring Me A Silver Coin. Let Me Look At It.” 16 They Brought The Coin. He Asked Them, “Whose Picture Is This? And Whose Words?”

“Caesar’s,” They Replied.

17 Then Jesus Said To Them, “Give Back To Caesar What Belongs To Caesar. And Give Back To God What Belongs To God.”

They Were Amazed At Him.

 

 

Coins in the ancient world were used for propaganda effect, and this coin bore an image of the emperor and proclaimed Roman ideology. The coin’s obverse had the effigy of the emperor and the superscription read: “Tiberius Caesar, August Son of the Divine Augustus”. The reverse had a female figure seated on a throne, wearing a crown and holding an inverted spear in her right hand and a palm or olive branch in her left. The superscription read: “Pontif[ex] Maxim[us]” (“High Priest”). The woman was either a priestess or Livia, the wife of Augustus and mother of Tiberias, and the coin proclaimed the pax Romana that had put all the world in subjection. It was, in effect, a portable idol promulgating pagan ideology.[2]

 

This raises some relevant questions for today’s believer trying to determine where the line is between right and wrong acceptance of the government’s authority.

 

1.     At what point does obeying an authority turn into worship of their power and an acceptance of their propaganda?

2.     Is my question of submission an either/or decision?

3.     What do you owe to government and what do you owe to God?

 

Perhaps at some point in our lives we may have to make a choice that is similar to the tax question posed here. Jesus’ response would indicate something different than what the Pharisee/Herodian alliance was looking for.

 

They already pay a kind of tribute to Caesar by possessing his coin. Therefore, they owe Caesar the tribute he demands from taxes. In effect, Jesus says, “Let Caesar have his idols!”

“Give to Caesar” does not give Caesar a carte blanche. Jesus does more than balance this statement when he tells them to render to God what is God’s. God is Caesar’s Lord. One may owe Caesar what bears his image and name — money. One owes God what bears God’s image and name. Since we are created in the image of God and bear his name as children of God, we owe him our whole selves.[3]

 

So what about the line you should not cross? What should we not give to Caesar?

 



[2] NIV Application Commentary ©1996 by David E. Garland

[3] NIV Application Commentary ©1996 by David E. Garland

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I don't necessarily endorse all content from this site but it's always good to get different perspectives. https://revkevinrogers.blogspot.com/2021/05/god-and-caesar.html

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