Illustration by Phil Younk
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Jesus uses coin to teach lesson
Based on the Gospel of Matthew 22:15-21
A trick question! In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus uses a coin to answer the question and teach a lesson.
The Pharisees were envious of Jesus because he was so popular with the people. They wanted to trap him into saying something which would get him into trouble. So they asked Jesus, “Should we pay our tax to the Roman government or give the money to God?” The Pharisees thought Jesus would tell the people to give their money to God and not the government. They knew anyone who didn’t pay their taxes would be arrested and punished.
Jesus asked them for a coin and asked whose image was stamped on it. “Caesar, the Roman leader,” they answered. Jesus said, “Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what is God’s.”
What Jesus meant was we should respect authority and obey the laws of our government, provided they are not against the laws of God.
Government laws are made to protect and help people, and are meant for the good of all citizens. God wants us to obey these laws.
At baptism, our souls are permanently stamped with the mark of the Holy Spirit – cleansing us of original sin and making us sons and daughters of God, members of the church and “citizens” of God’s kingdom.
What does Jesus want us to give to God? Our hearts. We should give ourselves completely to God, believing, adoring, hoping and loving him, and put him above all else. Everything in our life comes from God, and everything about us is precious to God. He wants us to return his love by giving him the gift of ourselves and by sharing his love with others.
As committed, active “citizens” of God’s kingdom, we are to live as God created us to live – following his Son Jesus as our model – and to help build his kingdom.
Lord Jesus, help us to respect authority – most of all, your authority which directs us to love others – and to give to you what is yours – our entire selves.