“What Jesus Demands From The World” – Daily Devotional (7/21/10): Demand #44 “Render to Caesar the Things That Are Caesar’s As An Act of Rendering to God the Things That Are God’s”

Matthew 22:15-21

“Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle [ Jesus] in his talk. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying . . . “Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

“Jesus demands absolute allegiance to himself and his ownership and authority. All other allegiances are warranted and limited and shaped by this supreme allegiance to Jesus as the King of kings. We have seen how they are warranted. Now we turn to see how they are limited and shaped. All our earthly allegiances are limited by what God’s supreme authority accomplished through Jesus (see John 5:27; Matt. 28:18).  We should do what Caesar says since he has his authority by God’s design. But we should not do all that he says. If Caesar says, “Caesar is Lord!” we do not imitate him. If he commands us to bow under his lordship, we do not do it. Jesus is Lord. His followers bow to him as supreme and to no one else. Even though human authority is ultimately from God, it does not act according to God’s word. Therefore, it may demand what God forbids. This is why Jesus warns of impending conflict. He tells his disciples they will have to choose between allegiance to him and allegiance to Caesar’s state. This will cost some of them their lives. “They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake . . . some of you they will put to death” (Luke 21:12, 16). The only way this warning makes sense is if Jesus is telling us not to render to Caesar everything that Caesar thinks is Caesar’s. Rendering to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s does not include rendering obedience to Caesar’s demand that we not render supreme allegiance to God. God’s supreme authority limits the authority of Caesar and the allegiance we owe to him.

All our earthly allegiances are not only warranted and limited by the supreme authority of God but are also shaped by that authority. In other words, even the duty we properly render to Caesar is rendered differently because Caesar is not absolute. We render obedience to Caesar where we can, not because he is Lord, but because our Lord Jesus bids us to. In other words, all our obedience to Caesar dethrones Caesar by expressing the lordship of Jesus. We view all our serving of Caesar as serving his owner and Lord, Jesus. There is, therefore, no whiff of worship toward Caesar. He is stripped of his claim to divinity in the very act of submitting to his laws. Even our submission is therefore seditious toward rulers with pretensions of deity (pg. 329-330).”

“There are at times reasons to submit to an authority that arise not from the intrinsic right of the authority, but from a principle of freedom and what would be for the greater good. So, applying this to Caesar, the principle would go like this: God owns Caesar. God has absolute authority over Caesar. This all-authoritative God is our Father. We are his children. Therefore, the demands of Caesar to fund his government are not absolutely binding on us. Our Father owns the government. We are free. In fact, the whole earth is ours as heirs of our Father, and we will one day inherit it completely (Matt. 5:5). Nevertheless, in this freedom, should we pay Caesar’s taxes? Yes, because that would lead to the greatest good for now and because our Father bids us, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” In this way we can see how God’s supreme ownership over all things not only warrants and limits but also shapes our earthly allegiances (pg. 331-332).”

““Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Let this demand exalt the supremacy of God and his Son Jesus over all earthly powers. Let it bind our hearts in absolute allegiance to the kingship of Jesus. Let it warrant and limit and shape the way we render allegiance to “Caesar.” And let it free us to live in this world as citizens of another kingdom—not escaping, not conforming, but living out the radical difference that King Jesus makes in every relationship, including our relationship with the state (pg. 335).”

Blessings,

Pastor Josh

Published in: on July 21, 2010 at 8:00 AM  Leave a Comment  
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