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.

The Sin of Pride

In his narrative on the life and teaching of the Lord Jesus, Luke describes the conspiring of the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders against Messiah. Their goal was to try to discredit the Lord before the crowds listening to His teaching and preaching in the courts of the Temple Mount.

20Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be honest. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. 21So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. (Luke 20:20-21).

They sent spies (v.20) and were hoping that they could catch Him out by using His own words and teachings against Him. Jesus had silenced them once already and spoken a parable which focused on their plans to kill Him (Luke 20:1-19). Their response was to look “for a way to arrest Him immediately” (20:19). Why immediately? Their religious money-making schemes were threatened. Jesus had overthrown the tables of the moneychangers and stopped them selling in the Temple Courts. Those in power, the religious elite, could not give up; there was too much money, power, and authority at stake. They decided that they would come at Jesus again; this time, it would be on the issue of taxation imposed on Israel by the Roman authorities. If they could get Him to say something against paying the tax, they could tell the Roman governor that He was a rebel against the state and should be executed.

They assembled together certain individuals that were good actors. Some of the leaders were sent to keep a close watch on Him, no doubt taking note of His every word. In verse 21, Luke calls them spies. They were sent to appeal to His pride by flattering Him, attempting to gain trust among His followers before asking their questions. (The word translated “pretended” (Verse 20) in the NIV, comes from the Greek word hypokrinomai, which means to play the role of an impersonator or actor. We get the word hypocrite from the root of this word. The enemy masks his motives by using flattery to appeal to a man’s pride. They were hoping that Jesus would not detect their true motives or see where they were going with their questions by inflating His pride. It was a classic misdirect! A man or woman can be blinded to the enemy’s attack by his or her own pride. Many a minister has passed the test of outright sin but fallen easily to the sin of pride. CS Lewis wrote about this in his book, Mere Christianity. Lewis wrote:

If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual; The pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronizing and spoiling sport, and backbiting; the pleasures of power, and of hatred. For there are two things inside me competing with the human self which I must try to become; they are the animal self, and the diabolical self; and the diabolical self is the worst of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig (a person who demonstrates an exaggerated conformity or propriety) who goes regularly to church may be far nearer hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it’s better to be neither.[1]

Pride is one of God’s greatest enemies. Pride is what caused Satan to fall (Isaiah 14:12-17). If you would like to please your enemy, just begin to admire yourself. Pride is so hard to see in ourselves but easy to see in others. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. There will always be grace issuing from our lives if we will seek the best for others rather than elevating self. Jesus never gave in to a spirit of pride for one minute. Christ took every opportunity to humble Himself and show us the way. See Him as He washed the dirty grimy feet of the disciples. Watch Him as He touched the leprous. He was not worried that men would see Him weeping over Lazarus even when He knew that He would raise him from the dead. He would look for the lowest seat when He was invited to a meal. There was none humbler than the Lord Jesus. Be careful of the sin of pride.

Taken from the series on the Book 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] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, (New York: Macmillan, 1986).