It’s great to see Jesus respond to the traps set for him by the Jewish leaders, simply by catching them in their own trap! They had hoped to get him to admit that he was supporting the occupying Roman army by supporting Roman taxes— including the use of the coin with a graven image on it, in violation of the first commandment. Jesus first responds by unveiling their treachery and hypocrisy, with the damning label, “you hypocrites”! That word applied to someone who was putting on an act, or a false front. Today we might use the phrase, “two-faced.” But the label “hypocrite” stings much more, because they knew that Jesus was absolutely right!
Jesus’ logic is simple. The hated coin-with-image was minted by Caesar and so money (taxes) belong to him. Therefore, they should give to Caesar with belongs to him! Jesus quite easily destroys the politically loaded bait-question about taxes from the Pharisees and Herodians. But Jesus does not leave it there; he directs the challengers to focus on a more important responsibility: “give to God the things that belong to God”!
So, what belongs to God? All of the prophets had spoken of God’s call for justice, mercy, and love. That means giving to God our heart—our total surrender to his will. Not just once in a while, but always. He wants us to gratefully recognise his presence and act according to his will. His will is that we know him, love him, and serve him faithfully. Only when we’re “right” with God can we know with assurance that we are “right” with our neighbour as well.
Beware of false hypocrites in our own political and social system; they can blind us to God’s wishes! Every citizen is obliged in conscience Not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the challenges of the moral order. Where does your elected official stand regarding abortion, justice, same sex marriage, and euthanasia? The last two are topics being discussed by Parliament at the present time.
Remember, we must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).