20 They watched closely and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, so that they could catch him in what he said, to hand him over to the governor’s rule and authority. 21 They questioned him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach correctly, and you don’t show partiality but teach truthfully the way of God. 22 Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” 23 But detecting their craftiness, he said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?” “Caesar’s,” they said. 25 “Well then,” he told them, “give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 26 They were not able to catch him in what he said in public, and being amazed at his answer, they became silent.
Here in Luke, we find Jesus in a familiar position—fielding insincere questions from Jewish religious leaders trying to trap Him with trick questions. However, this time the questions came second hand, from spies sent by the leaders instead from the leaders themselves. The questions were designed test Jesus’ loyalty to Caesar and thereby hoping to find a reason to arrest him. Jesus had a simple retort: give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what belongs to Him.
Notice that Jesus first asked the spies, “Whose image is on the coin?” Caesar’s image is on coins, but God’s image has been given to human beings. In other words, Jesus is saying, “Let Caesar have the money.” God’s image is on people; therefore, all people belong to God. In His answer, Jesus placed devotion to God on a higher plane than devotion to Caesar, without positioning Himself in opposition to either God or the government (see Romans 13). As often was the case, the religious leaders were unable to trick Jesus, but instead were amazed at His simple answer to what they were sure was a complicated question.
Jesus understood what the religious leaders missed—even the coins that Caesar claimed ownership over belonged to God. The human heart is remarkably self-centered. “My” is one of the most misused words in our vocabulary. We are quick to declare: my job, my money, my talents, my wealth, my belongings, my family, and even, my life. Biblically speaking, God owns it all, and we are caretakers of what He has entrusted to us during our brief stay on earth.
Our attitudes toward money and the use of material possessions always reveal the true nature of our hearts. When our hearts are in sync with God, we give freely of our money, possessions, time and talents. How we spend our resources leaves a trail of breadcrumbs that leads back to our hearts. If our love is directed toward God and His kingdom, first and foremost, the rest of our desires will follow suit.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- How are you stewarding the resources God has given you? What does your relationship to your money and your things reveal about your devotion to God?
- How do we maintain the balance Jesus advocated in His teaching?
- Ask God to reveal areas of your heart that are not fully devoted to Him, and then render to Him the devotion He is owed.
As a family take a poster board or a simple piece of paper and gather around the kitchen table with some markers. Discuss as a family and list out all the ways that your family has been blessed by God. List all the resources and things that you are thankful for. Resources can be many things. It can be time, money, your home, or the many fun things that you have in your home. As a family come up with three ways that you could possibly use those resources to love on your neighbors and to help others know and understand about God. After you have come up with your three things make a plan to put one of those into practice this week.
Pray today for the leadership and missionaries of the International Mission Board. Baptists established this missionary sending agency 175 years ago, and we continue to work together to send missionaries through IMB today. 18 of our church family’s global worker units serve through the IMB.