Give to God What is God’s.

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We are continuing from yesterday (Scroll down for yesterday’s thoughts), thinking on the attacks on the Lord Jesus by the religious elite, who were upset that Jesus had put a stop to their money-making schemes in the temple courts. They tried to discredit Him before the people. They asked Him: “Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” (Luke 20:22). Along with the property taxes that were due, the Romans also required an annual tax of one denarius. The coin was about a day’s wages for a common laborer that every adult had to pay. When Jesus was just a child, the heavy tax issue had caused the deaths of many people. Josephus, the Jewish historian, records a serious revolt against heavy taxes.[1] The Jewish leaders sought to bring Jesus on one side of the issue or the other. If Jesus said that it was right, He would alienate the Jewish people listening to Him. If He said that it was not right, then the wrath of Rome would be brought down on Him.

He saw through their duplicity (Verse 23) and responded to them by requesting that they show Him a denarius coin, and He then asked them whose portrait and inscription was on it. The request was a simple one, “Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?” 25“Caesar’s,” they replied (Luke 20:24).

Why do you think Jesus asked to see a denarius coin?

This coin was detestable to the Jewish people. It had an image of Caesar embossed on it with an inscription around the image declaring him to be divine. Most Jewish people at the time did not even like to have a denarius in their possession due to the image of Caesar and all it represented. The religious leaders, though, came up with a denarius, more than likely obtained from the ill-gotten gains of the money-changing that had gone on in the Temple Courts. They had no qualms about an image of Caesar in their pockets! Perhaps, as He looked at the coin, He was focusing on the fact that there were “two sides to the coin.” The image of Caesar on the coin was understood to be a property symbol: it belonged to Caesar. When they replied that it was Caesar’s image, He said: “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Verse 25).

If Caesar’s image was on it, then it surely belonged to Caesar. The other view was that, in the same way, what has God’s image on it, give to God. We are told that, at the beginning in Genesis the first chapter, verse 26, God created man in His own image. The divine image is stamped on every human being on planet Earth, though marred by sin. Within every one of us there is a missing piece, a God shaped void, a divine imprint that can only be filled with God Himself. He is our Creator, and we are His treasured possession. We are made in His image! Just as Caesar had right of possession over the coins, God has the right of possession over our souls, and we do well to give to God what belongs to Him. We are “made in His image!” While we live in this world, we are to be subject to the authorities, but we are not to serve them when their law conflicts with God’s moral law. The Sadducees were astonished with His answer and became silent. Again, the religious elite had been publically out-witted with their attempt to discredit Christ, and it was brought to nothing. Give to God what is God’s and let Him fully stamp you with the character of Jesus.

Taken from the series on the Gospel of Luke, found in the middle column near to the top. To view, click here. Click on study 54. Luke 20:20-47. Questions About Eternity. Keith Thomas

[1] R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word, Luke, Volume 2. Published by Crossway Books, 1998. Page 265.

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