Matthew 22:15-22 The Pharisees Try to Entrap Jesus
15 Then the Pharisees came together to make a plan to entrap Jesus with his own words. 16 So they sent some of their disciples together with some staunch supporters of Herod. They said to Jesus, “Teacher, we know that you’re an honest man of integrity and you teach us the truth of God’s ways. We can clearly see that you’re not one who speaks only to win the people’s favor, because you speak the truth without regard to the consequences. 17 So tell us, then, what you think. Is it proper for us Jews to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
18 Jesus knew the malice that was hidden behind their cunning ploy and said, “Why are you testing me, you imposters who think you have all the answers? 19 Show me one of the Roman coins.” So they brought him a silver coin used to pay the tax. 20 “Now, tell me, whose head is on this coin and whose inscription is stamped on it?”
21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.
Jesus said, “Precisely, for the coin bears the image of the emperor Caesar. Well, then, you should pay the emperor what is due to the emperor. But because you bear the image of God, give back to God all that belongs to him.”
22 The imposters were baffled in the presence of all the people and were unable to trap Jesus with his words. So they left, stunned by Jesus’ words.
As a believer in the sacrificial work of Christ on the cross, you bear the image of God to the world. Believers have dual citizenship and according to the Apostle Peter that means you, “Recognize the value of every person and continually show love to every believer. Live your life with great reverence and in holy awe of God. Honor your rulers” (1 Pet 2:17). In our passage from Matthew today, Jesus perfectly demonstrates dual citizenship. Not only are we called to honor our rulers, pay taxes to our government, and pay money for services and benefits we receive from others, we are also called to “give back to God all that belongs to him.” My friends, everything belongs to God including you! You are God’s representative of his character to the world.
Yesterday, I was listening to a bit of the Supreme Court Justice hearings; two witnesses from the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary shared the peer evaluation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett. The intellect and the character of Judge Barrett was evaluated and presented. She professes to love God, so I sat back and listened carefully. What went through my mind was how well Judge Barrett was living her dual citizenship. These nonpartisan witnesses proclaimed her honesty, integrity, loyalty to her country, non-biased fairness, focus on justice, and authentic concern and value for everyone she met. Whether or not you or I agree with the Court appointment process has nothing to do with the point I seek to make, today. Rather, as believers we are to bear the image of God and give back to God all that belongs to him and this amazing woman is an inspiring and beautiful example of the kind of character I want to offer God since I belong to him, too.
Prayer: Lord, you are the perfect example of dual citizenship—eternal Kingdom living while in a temporal world. Help me to follow your lead and reveal your character and integrity in every aspect of my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.