Every year, as I read the Bible through, I come to Luke 20 and see a well known passage that is, I believe, incredibly misunderstood, or at least not understood to its fullest extent.
The passage in question is Luke 20:21-25, which reads, “They questioned Him, “Teacher, we know that You speak and teach correctly, and You don’t show partiality, but teach truthfully the way of God. Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” But detecting their craftiness, He said to them, “Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?” “Caesar’s,” they said. “Well then,” He told them, “give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”
The Scribes were trying to trap Jesus. They asked him if it was right to pay taxes to Rome. If Jesus answered, “NO,” they would have him on charges of rebellion and treason against Rome. If Jesus answered, “Yes,” they would have him on charges of supporting Rome and treason against the Jews. Jesus faced the crowd and simply said, “give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. Jesus makes this claim because the image of Caesar was on the denarius.
Let’s look deeper at what Jesus is saying. Jesus says give to Caesar what has his image on it, and give to God what has his image on it. We are created in the image of God. We bear his image and inscription. Therefore, Jesus takes the opportunity to call each of us to give ourselves back to God. “Give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”
You are not your own, you have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). You and I have the image of God in us. We are to give ourselves back to God for his use, not our own.
Is this passage really about taxes? What do you think? Comment below.