Giving God What God Is Owed

Photo by George Potter on Unsplash

Today our country swore in our 46th President, Joe Biden. This is following one of the most divisive and vicious campaigns for president that I have ever seen. I’m not going to talk about the campaign, or give my opinions. Tonight I want to talk about what Jesus expects of His children.

We’ll start reading in:

Matthew 22:15-21 Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. 16 And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. 17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cæsar, or not? 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? 19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. 20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? 21 They say unto him, Cæsar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. 22 When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left him, and went their way.

Jesus, Not Caesar, Is Our King

In order to understand the Bible texts, you have to start with the CONTEXT, the background to what you read. You can follow the background with me. The day before Jesus’ questioning by the Pharisees and the Herodians our Lord rode into Jerusalem. Just before entering Jerusalem Jesus told His disciples:

Matthew 21:2-5 Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. 3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet {Zechariah 9:9-10} saying, 5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem, He rode as a King, seated on a white donkey. The crowd that went before Jesus treated Him as a King. They cried out:

Matthew 20:9 … Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.

Hosanna” means “all glory to God our Savior”. The crowd calls Jesus the “Son of David”. In the Old Testament God told King David that:

2 Samuel 7:12-13 when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build an house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever.

The rightful Ruler of Israel is not Caesar nor Rome, but Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus is the One “born King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2). Jesus Christ is the “Son of David” that God sent to Israel. Jesus is the Overcoming Lamb of God:

Revelation 17:14 … for He is the Lord of lords and the King of kings …

When Jesus rides into Jerusalem the crowd cries out, “Hosanna to the Son of David”. They give Jesus the accolade that the King of Israel should have. As King Jesus rides to the Temple, and casts out the money changers,

Matthew 21:12-13 {saying unto them} It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves.

Jesus Christ is not only the Son of David, He is also the Son of God. Jesus is the King of Israel, and the King of Heaven. His “House” the Temple Will Not Be Defiled.

As Jesus healed the blind and the lame in the Temple (Matthew 21:14), the children cry out:

Matthew 21:15 … Hosanna to the Son of David …

Jesus leaves Jerusalem to rest overnight in Bethany, but returns the next day to find His enemies waiting for Him. Jesus tells the Pharisees:

Matthew 21:43 … The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

The King of Israel will move His seat of government from Israel to another nation Jesus called “My Church”. The Church would be built …

Ephesians 2:20-23 … upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

The “House of Christ”, the Church, Christ’s new nation, would be focused on worshiping and serving the Lord God. We are of His House if we hold fast – to the end – our confidence and rejoicing in Christ (Hebrews 3:6). Those who are “born again” of the Spirit (John 3:3, 7),

1 Peter 1:23 … born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever

are “members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones” (Ephesians 5:30). We are built by Christ. The Church is Christ’s holy nation, and we cherish Him as our King, our Savior, and our Guide (Matthew 16:18).

The King, our Jesus, is teaching in the Temple when the Pharisees and Herodians came to “entangle Him in His talk” (Matthew 22:15).

Enter The Herodians

The “Herodians” are those Jews who support King Herod as the monarch of Israel. Most of the Jews did not Herod. Herod himself was an Idumean or a descendant of the Edomites, the children of Esau, not of Jacob. Herod was not only NOT from the line of David (the ruling line of Israel), he was NOT a Jew. He was a cousin to the Jews.

The Pharisees generally did not care for the Herodians, for they did not care for Herod. Yet their hatred of Jesus led them to band together with the Herodians. Luke tells us that these men were …

Luke 20:20 … spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor.

The Herodians and Pharisees hoped to entrap Jesus, to get Him openly to say or do something that would upset Herod and Pilate. Neither Herod nor Pilate wanted another “King” in Jerusalem. If they could get Jesus Jesus to stumble, then they could have the state soldiers take Him and imprison Him.

They start with flattery.

The Bible says in Proverbs 29:5, “A man that flattereth his neighbor spreadeth a net for his feet.” They want to trip up our Jesus.

Matthew 22:16-17 … Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. 17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cæsar, or not?

These men are lying. They don’t believe what they are saying about Jesus. But their words – which others are hearing – make it sound like they are on Jesus’ side. Their question is a hidden bomb. “Is it lawful to give tribute to Cæsar or not?” When they ask “is it LAWFUL”, they are not talking about Roman, but Biblical Law. What does the Torah say?

The Jews themselves despised paying “tribute” or taxes to Rome. In 6 A.D. the Romans imposed a “census tax” on Israel. If you were with me on Christmas you know that this was why Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth (see Luke 2:1-5). The Jews saw the Romans as invaders. A man by the name of Judas the Galilean led Israel in a tax revolt, with Rome retaliating by killing many Israelis. Pilate himself was the Chief Tax Collector and head of the Roman Judicial system. No, the Jews despised paying taxes to Rome.

So the Pharisees and the Herodians think they have trapped Jesus. If He answers, “Of course, we should pay taxes”, then the people who the day before welcomed Jesus as King would turn on Him. If Jesus replies, “No, we shouldn’t pay taxes to Rome”, the Herodians will carry this back to Herod and Pilate, and Jesus would be tried for insurrection.

Matthew 22:18-19 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? 19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.

Jesus knows what they are doing, and calls them “hypocrites” or “people of two faces” right to their face. Jesus turns the tables on them. He says,

Shew me the tribute money

A Graven Image In The Temple

They brought to Jesus a penny. All of this is very interesting. Let’s see if we can break it down. The tribute money is a Roman coin called a denarius. The denarius was a silver coin that was roughly one day’s wages of the common laborer. The front of the denarius had an image of the Roman Emperor Tiberius, and around this image the Latin words “TI CAESAR DIVI AUG F AUGUSTUS”, which means “Tiberius Caesar, Worshipful Son of God, Augustus”. The coin makes Caesar out to be a god, and a son of God.

What is interesting about this is that Jesus and His detractors are in the Temple, and Jesus Himself DOES NOT have one of these coins on Himself. They brought unto Jesus the denarius. It was a violation of God’s Law to Israel for anyone to even bring such a coin into the Temple. In the Ten Commandments that God gave Moses, the Lord said:

Exodus 20:2-6 I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5 thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 6 and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Caesar had his image placed on the coins to teach each person who used that coin that HE HIMSELF WAS A SON OF GOD. The Jews were supposed to acknowledge but one God, the God of Scripture. The Shema, a Jewish prayer based on Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21; and Numbers 15:37-41, starts out with these words:

Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad”
Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone

By producing this coin in the Temple the Pharisees and Herodians were showing that they had no concept of respect toward God. This is holy ground. Jesus simply asks:

Matthew 22:20-21 … Whose is this image and superscription? 21 They say unto him, Cæsar’s.

It was Caesar who ordered this coin made, not God. It was Caesar who declared himself God, not God. So Jesus replies:

Matthew 22:21 Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

Does God want us to worship Caesar? Absolutely not! As Jesus told Lucifer, that old devil,

Matthew 4:10 … Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Only God is to be worshiped. The Bible says that our first duty to God is:

Matthew 22:37 … Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

God Our Father Deserves Our All

Our Father God deserves ALL of our adoration, ALL of our obedience. God is to be first in our affections, first in our hearts. What Jesus is saying is the same thing that Joshua said before he retired:

Joshua 24:15 … choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Jesus was saying the same thing that Elijah said on Mount Carmel:

1 Kings 18:21 How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.

We as God’s Children are to give to God what He is owed. God deserves all of us, not just part of us. King Solomon said:

Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

We are to give to the government what is due to the government. We are to obey governmental laws insofar as they do not circumvent our allegiance to God. In the formation of the early Church Peter and the other Apostles were imprisoned by the order of the High Priest of Israel. The Scripture says:

Acts 5:17-21 Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, 18 and laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. 19 But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, 20 Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. 21 And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught.

The next day the Apostles were once more brought before the High Priest and the Sadducees, who demanded of them:

Acts 5:28 Did not we straightly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Peter replied:

Acts 5:29 We ought to obey God rather than men …

If God Is First, The Work Will Continue

As the Jewish Council debated on whether to kill the Apostles or not, the Rabbi Gamaliel told them:

Acts 5:38-40 Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to naught: 39 but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. 40 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

The Apostles went forward, sharing the Gospel, and obeying Jesus Christ our King and His Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). We are to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.

Our God is due all our obedience. We who are saved by faith in Christ are first and foremost citizens of Heaven. But we are also citizens of this earth. Insofar as the government requires our allegiance, we should give our allegiance as long as our allegiance does not violate the Word and Will of God. When the government steps into the place of God, then that government has gone too far.

The Apostle tells us:

Romans 13:1-3 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

The powers that be are ordained of God. As long as the “powers that be” do not exceed their authority, then as good citizens we who are Christians should be obedient to them. God establishes nations, and sets up and destroys rulers. God even controls the hearts of those ruling:

Proverbs 21:1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.

When our Lord Jesus would later stand in front of Pontius Pilate to be judged, Jesus would not defends Himself. Pilate told Jesus:

John 19:10 … Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?

Jesus’ reply was simple, and to the point. He said:

John 19:11 … Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above

Our God reigns! Our God is to have our first allegiance in everything. Yet we are to obey our governmental leaders insofar as they do not violate the will and the Word of our God. As we are coming into a new chapter in America, let us follow our Lord Jesus. Let us remember to pray daily for those in authority over us. The Lord commands:

1 Timothy 2:1-4 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; 4 who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

Pray that God will restore peace to our land. Pray that God will use us as His Children to share His Gospel and His Word, and that this seed planted will bring a Christlike revival to our nation and His Churches. May God the Holy Spirit and His Word draw your hearts close to Him this very day. Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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