Mark 12:13–17 (ESV)
Paying Taxes to Caesar
13 And they sent
to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. 14 And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach
the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” 15 But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” 16 And they brought
one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” 17 Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
And they marveled at him.
The key word in today’s reading is found in verse 13: “trap”. They were trying to trap Jesus. The proper definition for today’s usage is “any
device, stratagem, trick, or the like for catching a person unawares.” The problem with trapping Jesus is that he is God. He is all knowing and is well aware of the trap. He is not fooled. Now I grew up trapping animals on our
ranch. Trapping raccoons and opossums was not overly challenging. Coyotes and bobcats proved to be way more challenging. You had to neutralize your scent and had to conceal the trap totally. I would use a flour sifter to sift dirt over
the trap so that it did not look disturbed. A trick I learned from a Texas State trapper for bobcats was to hang Christmas tree ornaments (round shiny balls) in the air above the trap. The bobcat would jump up and swat at the balls and land in
the trap. Well, this is kind of what they were doing to Jesus, but not with a mechanical trap. To get to the point, they want Jesus opinion as to whether they should pay taxes. If he says no, then the government (today’s IRS) would
get him. Jesus looks at the person on the coin and says “render (pay) unto Caesar the thing that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” He dodged the bullet by saying to pay both! Pay your taxes to the
government, but give to God what is God’s portion. Really, everything we have belongs to God, so we are giving back to him only a portion of what is already his.
I pray: O Lord, I must admit
that I do not like paying taxes, but I do pay them. Giving to you comes easier because I know the money is being put to Godly use. Help me to be a cheerful giver to both, since you have established the government too. Help me to make certain
that the government is being good stewards of the taxes as well. Amen.