Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. (Luke 20: 25.)
Delivering a surprise blow to the Pharisees, Jesus not only fools those who are trying to fool him, but also manages to teach his followers a deep spiritual truth. Christ recognized that we live in two worlds as Christians. There is the material world around us that governs itself by its own standards and practices. Then there is the world of God’s kingdom, which is governed by the Lord’s standards. It is part of our walk with Christ to discover where we should pledge our allegiance.
Jesus’ statement to the Pharisees’ spies makes it very clear what he deems to belong to this world. One should let the world have its sin, its empty pleasures, its vices, and its amassing of wealth. For the world does seem tempting when those who don’t follow the Lord find “their land is full of silver and gold; there is no end to their treasures. Their land is full of horses; there is no end to their chariots.” (Isaiah 2:7.)
Those who do evil and turn from God often do seem to be rewarded; they seem to live a life that is free, that is desirable. I think we all know someone who fits this image. I know I can think of some people who fit that category, laughing in God’s face but getting all the lucky breaks in life. Yet Isaiah goes on to say how “the eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted on that day.” (Isaiah 2:11.)
For the other half of Jesus’ statement, what belongs to God is our entire self. We are to give our hearts, mind, body, and soul to God, for he created us and bought us out of sin with the price of his own blood. Through giving our entire self to God, which means following his laws and commandments, we experience great joy which the psalmist describes in Psalm 119. God calls us to look not only to the shortsightedness of the material world around us, but to look forward with faith to the justice of God, to the day when “the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains.” (Isaiah 2:2.) Then those who were obedient and gave their entire self to God will be rewarded and exalted.
Thus it is that Christ asks us to give our fullest selves to him and to follow his commands, so that on the last day we may be rewarded with eternal life in paradise, while those who turned and scorned the Lord, will get their small reward from this earth, but will humbled by the Lord in the end.
- Alex Leach