November 24 - Luke 20:20-26

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Luke 20:20-26 – Paying Taxes to Caesar

The chief priests and teachers of the law are continuing to digress into lawlessness. Now they have sent spies who have deceit written into their very lives. They pretend to be honest men, standing before Jesus, but they are only there to catch him in something that will allow them to turn him over to the governor. This group of people doesn't even have the courage it takes to confront Jesus, they desire to pass of their dirty work to others … to spies, to the Roman governor.

If Jesus affirms that paying taxes is the right thing to do, he betrays the Jewish people and will no longer be seen as their Messiah. The Jews were hoping for a savior to rescue them from the overlords who heavily taxed them, while demanding that they worship Caesar. The image of Caesar on the front of the coin represented their submission to a power other than God, something the Messiah would never allow.

On the other hand, there were plenty of Roman soldiers within hearing distance of this conversation. Any attempt Jesus might make to incite rebellion among his followers would ensure that his arrest and punishment were swift.

Jesus’ answer reminds us that though we depend on God, we still have duties and responsibilities in the world. For the Jews of that time, the way to gain spiritual independence was not by fighting off Roman power, but by focusing on their relationship with God. We give to God what is God’s and from there we find freedom.