15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”
18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.
Have you ever fought with a toddler? If you have, you probably know what it’s like to win the battle but lose the war!
This chapter contains a series of conversations between Jesus and the religious leaders of the time. In these conversations the leaders bring up sections of theology that they care very deeply about and argue about. They test Jesus, wanting to see which ‘side of theology’ He’s going to land. But Jesus does not fall into the trap of fighting the battle but losing the war. He constantly brings His listeners back to the heart of the matter – the human soul and our relationship with God.
I speak often with someone who is very angry at God and His people. Sometimes I’ve made the mistake of getting defensive, which always ends in an argument. A battle. But this chapter reminds me that God is not bothered by the anger. He sees the immense pain and hurt beneath it, and He wants to redeem it, to bring peace and new freedom. He’s in the war for souls. And the best news is that He’s already won it at the cross.
Thank you, Lord, that you care so deeply for your created beings. Help us to see what you see, and to fight the war that matters, rather than focusing on the battles that don’t.
Written by Rhiannon Mellor