Last Friday we had the gravel-chewing annual experience of visiting our friendly tax-accountant to finalize our last tax returns. “That’s late!” I hear you say. C’mon?!… that’s a whole 2 weeks before the Oct 31st deadline!… I won’t tell you the details of the outcome – a mixture of pain and a little bit of pleasure!
Jesus’ enemies try to trip Him up with a ‘curly one’: “…is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” (Mt 22:17). Some of the Jews supported paying taxes to Rome, many others opposed it, so Jesus would be caught out either way. He then famously bamboozles them, asking whose image is on the coin, and it being Caesar’s, says, “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and give to God the things that are God’s” (v21).
This wasn’t a clear-cut answer, because of course what is Caesar’s came from God anyway (Jn 19:11), so it is all owed to God. Bamboozling may have been Jesus’ main purpose here, as a rebuke to their evil intent. However, in God’s good ordering of the world He does share authority with worldly powers, which we are to honour and submit to (Ro 13:1ff); apart from where they contradict the kingdom of Christ and His Word – in which case, we may have to make some difficult decisions!
The wash-up of all of this is… I still have to pay my taxes!
Grace and cheers,
Rev. Jonathan Button