“Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”
It is often said that death and taxes are the only two guaranteed things in life. The idea of paying taxes has been around for thousands of years, continuing to this very day, April 15th “Tax Day” in the U.S. Jesus was presented with this very same issue during his public ministry in Jerusalem. Was it right or wrong to pay the “occupier” tax to the Romans? This was not a tax levied on every individual in the Roman Empire, only those who were not Roman citizens.
“So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
The religious leaders tried to trap Jesus with this question but instead find themselves tripped-up by his response. Jesus’ answer does at least two things:
- It makes the point that paying taxes is not a bad thing. Paul echoes the same in Romans 13:1-7.
- The bigger point Jesus is making when he references Caesar’s image on the coin, is that while the coin may bare his image, humanity bares the Imago Dei. This makes all the difference when Jesus says, “…and to God what is God’s.” We belong to God. Everything we are and everything we have belongs to Him.
Don’t think of this so much as a “God tax” but rather as an investment. The return on what we give to God will ALWAYS leave us better off than when we started. This is the only investment I’m aware of where we can give the little we have to gain everything and eternity.