“Give … to God what is God’s.” Mark 12:17
Two groups of enemies, the Pharisees and the Herodians, put aside their differences to focus an attack on Jesus. They both wanted Jesus dead, so they tried to stir up trouble by asking him a question about taxes: “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
If Jesus said yes, they knew he would disappoint his own people, who thought he had come to free them from Roman oppression. And for that they might turn against him. If Jesus said no, he would be defying the Roman rulers. The religious leaders could then turn him over to the authorities to be punished.
“But Jesus knew their hypocrisy.” So he asked for a Roman coin and said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” What, then, was he saying belonged to Caesar? In that day, the tax for each person was a day’s wages. And what belonged to God? The answer to that is simple: everything! Jesus acknowledged the authority of the Roman government, and he pointed out that God’s authority was far higher. With this brilliant illustration, Jesus called the people to surrender their whole lives to God.
For us this means recognizing that our money, possessions, time, gifts, relationships–all things–belong to God and that we are to honor God in the way we use them.