Questions About Taxes
08 May 2018
GraceNotes – A Journey of Discovery
Scripture: Matthew 22:15-22 (Click link for scripture in Bible Gateway)
15 Then the Pharisees met together to plot how to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested. 16 They sent some of their disciples, along with the supporters of Herod, to meet with him. “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You teach the way of God truthfully. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. 17 Now tell us what you think about this: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” 18 But Jesus knew their evil motives. “You hypocrites!” he said. “Why are you trying to trap me? 19 Here, show me the coin used for the tax.” When they handed him a Roman coin, 20 he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?” 21 “Caesar’s,” they replied. “Well, then,” he said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” 22 His reply amazed them, and they went away. (Matthew 22:15–22 NLT)
The Pharisees met with the Herodians to plot how to trap Jesus into saying something he could be arrested for. The Pharisees were a religious denomination who wanted to impose the Jewish ceremonial law on the whole nation, so that not only devout religious Jews would have to keep it, but that everyone would be bound to it. The Herodians were a political party who supported Herod’s puppet monarchy in carrying out the rule and policies of Rome. They thought they had the perfect foolproof plan against Jesus. If he said “No” to Roman taxes, the Herodians would have him arrested and if he said “Yes” to Roman taxes, the Pharisees would have him arrested! It’s interesting but sad that it seems easier to unite people against something than for something. The Kingdom-of-God way is to unite for the message and the mission of Jesus to preach the Good News to the poor, to set captives free, to heal the sick, and to free the underdogs from their oppressors!
Jesus made it clear that we have dual citizenship! Our citizenship in the nation requires that we fulfill the duties of earthly citizenship by paying for the services and benefits we receive, by serving as required, and by obeying the laws of the land. Our citizenship in the inside-out, upside-down, weak-over-powerful, poor-over-rich, one-over-many, Kingdom of Christ requires that we live in obedience to the greatest law of all, the Law of Love.
Father, Please help us to get the message here! It’s so easy to be moved by fear and anger, to get trapped into being “against things!” Help us avoid that trap and to unite with you and each other for the things that proceed from a heart of love. Amen!