The Gospel of Luke

This devotional is written by Jeannine Boulter.  Jeannine is married to Tom and they have two kids called Bruno and Oona.

Luke 20:20-26

Paying Taxes to Caesar

20 Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be sincere. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said, so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. 21 So the spies questioned him: "Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 22 Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"

23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24 "Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?"

"Caesar's," they replied.

25 He said to them, "Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."

26 They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.


Reflection

Here is a denarius:
... bearing the image of Caesar. The logic behind Jesus' argument is that the coin belongs to Caesar, because it bears his image.

In the same way, we belong to God, because we bear his image. What does this mean? Not just that we are like him, but in some way that we are containers of his presence in the world. Our task is to let this be known and seen by those around us.

There are many things that make this difficult - not least our obligation to work, and make money, and complete our tax returns. But in comparison to the greater, ongoing project of becoming brighter beacons of his light and hotter radiators of his power, these things seem trivial. (Jesus reminds us that they are still necessary - don't forget your tax return.)

Another thought: the denarius would have been a daily reminder for the people of the Roman Empire that all things belonged to Caesar (who dictated that all people and things in his empire belonged to him). Jesus reminds the Pharisees that not only the coin, but also Caesar himself, belong to God. God's authority surpasses all. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Response: What things do you want to bring under God's authority today? Ask him to reveal them now, no matter how big, powerful of Caesar-like they might seem.

Prayer: Lord, thank you again for the tremendous gift of Your holy presence living in me. Help me to realign myself to You, so that I reveal you to those around me. Reveal to me again Your authority and over all things, no matter how indomitable they seem. Amen.


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