Paying Taxes to Caesar

Gospel Meditation

Luke 20:19–26

Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still, and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture.

1.         Members of the religious establishment, consisting of the scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees (Matthew and Mark include the Herodians), these groups that were most often opposed to each other, band together in an attempt to trap Jesus and see then that the Romans deal with Him.

2.         These antagonists were watching Jesus carefully, hoping to find a way to bring charges against Him. Already these had gone to Judas Iscariot and enlisted him to find a way to arrest Jesus.

3.         Now, only two or three days before Jesus would be arrested and then crucified, Jesus’ enemies ask Him if it is right to pay tribute, or a tax, to Caesar. The Romans were severe about this and monitored this closely.

4.         Jesus asks that a denarius be shown to Him, and the  Roman coin, and probably with the likeness of Tiberius, the current Caesar, on one side of the coin, and with “Pontifex Maximus” on the reverse side. 

5.         He then says to give to Caesar what is required, yes paying the tax, but give to God the things that are God’s.

6.         If Jesus had said “No” to paying the tax, the authorities would look at Jesus as a traitor and law breaker. If Jesus had said “Yes” to paying the tax, many of the Jewish people would be angry at that, especially the religious authorities who would have lost the most.

7.         Jesus’ antagonists became silent at that point.

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