Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's ...
So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar's.” He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.”
To this day the issue of paying taxes is one of the most polarizing topics in society. Some believe that the government's reach is too far while others think that the wealthy should be taxed more. In thinking about the question asked in this passage it seems that the religious leaders were actually asking Jesus if he recognized the authority of Caesar, the leader of the government. Jesus' reply seemed to validate the existence and authority of the Roman government.
This is a hard message to accept when we see despotic regimes that mistreat their citizens the way that the Romans treated the Jews. Their cruel method of crucifixion speaks to the harsh way that they governed. Yet the message in this passage rings out clear. We are always to remember that we are first citizens of the kingdom of God. Our actions should always reflect that citizenship. When we render to God what is his we render love both to Him and to each other.
Help me always to remember my citizenship Lord Jesus. May my life always reflect that citizenship.