And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone's opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?”
But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar's.” Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” And they marveled at him.
The wisdom of Christ blows me away! I too often read the gospels and marvel at what he says. Can you imagine what it must have been like to be constantly assaulted by hypocrites trying to trip you up? Such is the setting here when people who are purported experts in the law ask him a question about paying taxes. Do you find it odd that these leaders did not have the answer to their question? I wonder if they had a different answer in mind?
The question of obligation to fleshly governments is a complex one for sure but our obligation to God is even more complex. Some would reduce our responsibility to God to something similar to paying taxes. Some like the idea of reducing our debt to God to ten percent because it is something that can be discerned with our minds. Yet, unlike taxes, our obligation to God is a matter best discerned with the heart and not with the mind.
Help me to be a man who is generous of heart Lord and not fleshly minded.