The chief priests and the scribes sought to lay hands on him that very hour, but they feared the people—for they knew he had spoken this parable against them. They watched him, and sent out spies, who pretended to be righteous, that they might trap him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the power and authority of the governor. They asked him, “Teacher, we know that you say and teach what is right, and aren’t partial to anyone, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”
But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Why do you test me? Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?”
They answered, “Caesar’s.”
He said to them, “Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Once again, the chief priests and the scribes knew that they stood in opposition to the people. The funny thing, is that the people lived in fear of the leaders too! This is something that we should consider. In a place like the United States of America, where we participate in government, we should be leaving bad leaders behind. We can see that this is what they truly fear. Clearly, they don’t care about the people or those who do good to the poor. All they want is to use the people to maintain their own power. I believe it is important for us to not be ignorant of the fact that bad leadership exists and that it can put on a very convincing and even fearful face.
Notice that Jesus isn’t opposed to taxes, specifically. The implication is, though, that even what Caesar had, was given to him by God. Even Caesar himself was God’s creation. Jesus does not want us to rebel against authority, but He does want us to recognize that God is a higher one. If a lower authority tells you to go against a higher authority, then you must obey the higher one. This can be very confusing today, as it was during Jesus’ time, when the leadership often told people to do something that God doesn’t allow. The Old Testament is full of stories in which this happened and how righteous men obeyed God rather than men.