The Book of Luke, The Authority of Christ, Part V - Lesson 213
We continue with our study of the passage in Luke 20:19-26.
Luke 20:19-26, And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them. 20And they watched him, and sent forth 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. 21And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly: 22Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no? 23But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me? 24Show me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesarís. 25And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesarís, and unto God the things which be Godís. 26And they could not take hold of his words before the people: and they marvelled at his answer, and held their peace.
But by saying, ďrender unto Caesar the things which be CaesarísĒ, he was stating that the emperor should be paid only what was his due.
By saying this he defined clearly a role for Caesar but that role was limited by God.
The lesson is clear, the authorities that God has established have God given power, but that power is always limited to that which takes place on earth within the boundaries established by Godís Word.
Godís word is clear in this matter for we are to submit to human governments, even pagan governments, so long as we do not violate the Word of God.
The inference in the question asked of Jesus Christ by the spies, is that government is opposed to God but we know from Romans 13 and I Peter 2 that human governments are not contrary to Godís rule, but a part of Godís rule.
God has placed governments on the earth to restrain sin until He comes.
We are to obey government, not as the enemy of God, but recognizing government as the agent of God.
And also recognizing that we will never have a perfect government until Christ returns to the earth to reign as King.
We are reminded in this passage in Luke, that authorities have power to impress images upon coins but are not given power to impress images upon men for men are created in the image of God.
Caesar may have claimed himself as divine but that must not be reckoned to him for that is not his due, but Godís due.
Any manís claim on divinity other than the claim of the Lord Jesus Christ is going beyond manís boundaries set by God.
And in saying Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesarís, and unto God the things which be Godís, Jesus expected his listeners to think and to study Godís word in order to be discerning believers.
Knowing Godís word will bring you to know what is due the king and what is due God.
Jesus did not go into long detailed explanations here for he expects his children to study to show themselves approved of God.
He gives the principle, then study of his word will provide discernment as to what is due God and what is due the king.
This matter of God and government is well covered in the Old
Testament where we see in 1 Samuel, chapter 8 the children of Israel demanding a king like all the other nations.
Samuel warned the people that they would be heavily taxed by their king, and that the price of this government would be high.
The peopleís reaction was one of ďBring it on!Ē and they got what they desired including heavy taxes.
Jesus Christ was ready to be their king but they refused him in favor of this Roman Gentile government and it was therefore right for them to pay taxes to Caesar.
Were they not in their heart ready to use Rome to destroy this man who was a threat to their place?
What hypocrites they were in asking if they should pay taxes to Rome while at the same time expecting Rome to do their dirty work!
Jesus was Israelís King, but they would not have Him.
Instead of bowing the knee in obedience to Jesus as Messiah, the leaders of the nation used this Gentile Roman government to serve their self-interest by putting Jesus to death.
It will be just a few more days from this event and Pontius Pilate will introduce Jesus to the Jews by saying, ďBehold your kingĒ but the Jews response will be:
Away with him, away with him, crucify him. We have no king but Caesar.
And here in todayís passage, just a few days before they cry this out, we see that they have the nerve to ask whether they ought to pay taxes to the one whom they claim as king.
We should note that in giving up his life on the cross Jesus yielded to Caesarís authority to take life.
Yes, it was a misuse of his authority for he was guiltless, but Caesar did indeed have God given authority to take life and Jesus yielded to that authority.
But in so doing, Jesus fulfilled the will and purpose of God which was to redeem sinful men and to redeem Israel from her sins.
The Jews thought they were using Rome to destroy this nemesis but in reality Jesus was using Rome to bring salvation to men and even to the very men who conspired in his death.
God indeed does use the wrath of men to praise him!
God indeed can take what we think is the worst thing that can happen and bring it about to our good.
Be careful when you question God during your bad times for He is not done working for your good.
So we see in Christís answer to the spies, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesarís, and unto God the things which be Godís, the basis for determining what belongs to God and what belongs to someone or something else.
He tells us that tax money belongs to Caesar because his money has his image and his words written on it.
Caesar has the authority to decide how money is used.
Not only his money but everybodyís money.
Think about that when there is a war on.
The government has authority over your money and can take your money to fight the war.
If it did not have that authority and could not fight a war what good would your money be when the enemy came and took your money anyway?
We are in a war now, but the government has refrained in taking many things away from us, but during WW II it did not have the choices that it has today.
During WW II war ration books and tokens were issued to each American family, dictating how much gasoline, tires, sugar, meat, silk, shoes, nylon and other items any one person could buy.
Across the country 8000 rationing boards were created to administer these restrictions.
You couldn't just walk into a shop and buy as much sugar or butter or meat as you wanted, nor could you fill up your car with gasoline whenever you desired to.
There was even a national speed limit of 35 MPH imposed during the war to conserve on the limited supplies of gasoline.
By the end of 1942, half of U.S automobiles were deemed non-essential to the war effort and given an ďAĒ classification which allowed them only 4 gallons of fuel per week.
For nearly a year, these A-stickered cars were not to be driven for pleasure at all.
The government introduced rationing because certain things were in short supply during the war, and rationing was the only way to make sure everyone got their fair share.
Rationing is the governmentís due.
There is nothing in the Bible that prohibits Caesar from doing this when times dictate such things are needed in order to defeat the enemy.
I read in the paper yesterday that there is an effort in California to outlaw the spanking of children under 3 years old.
Some legislator is introducing such a law believing that she is protecting children from abuse.
Now is protecting children from abuse within the purview of the government?
Yes it is, but when it comes to the clear instruction of Godís Word on how to rear children and that includes the use of the switch, then we must obey Godís word rather than the government.
Render unto Caesar the things that be Caesarís does not include the rendering of the rearing of our children for we who are Godís children, are not rearing our children for Caesar; we are rearing our children for God.
So in putting his image on the coin, Caesar implies that he has the right to decide what the money is used for and he can decide to call some of it back as a tax.
God works the same way for what he puts his image on he has the right to call it back to himself, for what has Godís image upon it, belongs to God.
We who are born into the family of God are being impressed with Godís image in that we are being made in the image of Godís son, Jesus Christ and the Word of God is impressed in our hearts.
Authorities over men have authority over their money for their money is made by the authority.
But God made men and therefore He has ownership of men and has the right to impress His image and His word upon them.
Governments have the right to require men to owe them taxes but they do not have the right to own people.
This is only the prerogative of God, and not of government.
If money bears the image of the ruler and the words of the ruler, men bear the image of the Word of God and because of this men belong to God.
Men are created in Godís image, and those who have come to a personal faith in Him have His word written on their hearts.
As we read in Romans 8:29, For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Caesar daily impresses his image upon his coins and God daily impresses the image of his son upon his sons.
Luke 20:26, And they could not take hold of his words before the people: and they marvelled at his answer, and held their peace.
So once again, thinking they would take hold of his words, and deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor, instead find themselves trapped by His words.
Their mouths were shut and they would have to return to the leaders with mission not accomplished.
The answer that Jesus Christ gave was not expected for they only gave him two choices but he refused to fall into their trap and told them both choices are true.
One must give government its due, which includes taxes.
One must give God His due, which is our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength in obedience to His word
And most often these two obligations are not conflicting.
But the spies tried to impress upon Christ a conflict in the two in order to expose a division between God and government.
In this Jesus Christ did not participate but instead upheld that which God created government for.