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Give to Caesar

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me...". Matthew 28:18

If all authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus, then what is left to render unto Caesar as Luke's Gospel says? (Luke 20:25) What exactly belongs to Caesar? In Luke's example, Jesus claims that the taxes paid with coins bearing the image of Caesar certainly belong to Caesar. But (it is implied) human beings bearing God's image belong to God. Many people seem to think that with this statement, Jesus was teaching the idea that "this world is not our home, we are only passing through". We might think that Jesus was saying "let the Caesars rule the world if they wish but you follow me." I almost agree with this assessment, except for the fact that I am convinced that Jesus would never have agreed to let the Caesars rule the world as they wished. When Caesar's representative, Pilate, asks Jesus if He is a King, Jesus says that this is the very reason that He has come into the world (John 18:33,37). But someone will say to me, "Yes! But Jesus also said that His Kingdom is not of this world!" (John 18:36). And in both cases, I think that the response is the same. I agree with those who say that John 18:36 ought to be translated "My kingdom is not from this world" not because I can read the Greek, I cannot, but because it makes more sense out of what Jesus says and does throughout all four of the Gospels. What Jesus is saying to Pilate is that His kingdom does not originate from this world and therefore doesn't behave as the kingdoms of this world. But it is certainly for this world. That is the reason that Jesus was born and came into the world, to establish a new and better way of doing power and authority. The difference is striking. Caesar's world crucifies innocent people in order to stabilize the established social order. Jesus leads His kingdom movement by sacrificing Himself for the sake of His followers while also refusing to call down curses upon His persecutors. In the end, Jesus movement is alive and well while Caesar's kingdoms continue to rise and fall. In the case of paying taxes, Jesus knows that He is being cornered into a position of appearing to be blatantly subversive to Rome or compromised with her. But Jesus out smarts his assailants and tells them, in effect, that He doesn't need Caesar's coins to advance His kingdom movement. People dedicated to God is all the currency needed. So, do as the revolutionaries of old said and "pay back Caesar in his own coin" and give currency with God's image stamped on it back to God! When all authority in heaven and in earth is given to you, the coins of the old regime don't mean too much. Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.

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