But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, "Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it." And they brought one. And he said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" They said to him, "Caesar's." Jesus said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they marveled at him.
The question that Jesus was dealing with was a politically loaded one for all the Jews: “Should we pay taxes to the pagan king of Rome?” Resistance to Roman rule was starting to swell up in Judea. And Jesus knew this. But he refused to seek or to be just a political solution. Within a generation after Jesus’ crucifixion administered by a Roman death squad, Jerusalem would be totally sacked by Caesar’s legions. Why? Because Jewish revolt did not listen to these words.
Jesus made it clear that there are indeed degrees of allegiance. As far as He was concerned, no one deserved God’s level of allegiance. But when it came to paying a tax to Rome, He saw it as legitimate to hand Roman coins over to Roman authorities when required… as long as God was getting His correct allegiance and worship. I am quite sure that Jesus would have had nothing to do with emperor worship, since that was God’s domain. But He would donate a denarius when called upon by the tax man.
Today’s evangelicals should take a lesson from Jesus regarding the current administration and rising secularism in culture and government worldwide. I am worried for all those who have now gone totally “Glenn Beck” in their approach. I am not necessarily happy with the increase in socialistic practice in America. And our debt will effectively bankrupt generations at this point. But I do not believe that government is the answer. I’ll give to Caesar everything but my ultimate trust! That is God’s domain. He is the God who led Christians into the arena in Rome and was faithful to the martyr. And Christianity flowered and flourished under such a government. God is greater than government.