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.
Jesus knew what the Pharisees wanted. They wanted to trap him so they could convince others he was someone not worth following.
The trap centered on the issue of taxes to the Roman government and whether it was right to pay them. If Jesus said it was not right then the Pharisees would accuse him of starting a rebellion against the Roman government. On the other hand, if Jesus said it was right the Pharisees would say Jesus wanted the Romans to remain in power.
Jesus had to be careful with how he approached this question. The way he answered it, however, shows us much about what it means to give today. He says we are to “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”
What does Jesus mean? Jesus truly connects us to a deeper truth. Everything belongs to God, because God was the one who first provided us with the very things that we use and enjoy. The way we give, then, should reflect this fact that everything we have is truly the Lord’s and we are his stewards.
This is another passage where we are faced with the challenge to remember that what we have is not our own. It is truly God’s and we are simply the caretakers of these resources. We give in response to who truly owns our finances. We give in response to the fact that what we have is really God’s.
As we are challenged, once again, to recognize that we are not the provider of our things it begs the question to ask if whether or not this message has truly found a place in the depths of our souls? Do we truly see that everything we have is not ours, but God’s?