Matthew 22:20-22 – Render To Caesar
And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s,” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away. (Matthew 22:20-22 ESV)
The Pharisees were out to get Jesus, attempting to “entangle him in his talk” (Matthew 22:15). The Pharisees, being cowards like many overly religious people, sent their disciples to Jesus with a controversial question, hoping to provoke a condemnable response. Their lackeys approached Jesus and prefaced their question with flattery to deceive him, and then asked, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” Matthew records that, “Jesus, aware of their malice” (Matthew 22:18) asked the hypocrites why they put him to the test. And then, he blew them away with an answer that encompasses all of life. He held up a coin and Caesar’s image was plain, stamped as a sign of ownership, validating Jesus’ response to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” That answered the deceitful question, but Jesus went one phrase further saying, “…and to God the things that are God’s.” These men knew the Old Testament well. And given the context, would have understood the implication of Jesus’ words. It was an unstated question, “Whose image and likeness is stamped on you?” It was a gospel answer to a sinful question. We bear the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27) and are to give to God what is his—our lives. Marvel at the brilliance of Jesus today, knowing that we bear his image and likeness, and are made alive through the Holy Spirit who lives within us (I Peter 3:18). Will you render your life to God today?