Thursday, April 12, 2018

Thursday, April 12th: 1 Samuel 19 - 21, Luke 20 ~ Nathan

Luke 20: 21-26
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.

I remember this story from reading it when I was young, and marveled then at Jesus' wisdom. The scribes and chief priests thought they had finally cornered Jesus with a question that Jesus wouldn't be able to answer, and He did and showed wisdom.

The point of this story is something we can still learn from, as we often deal with a government we don't agree with. But the wisdom that Jesus showed in answering this question was truly amazing!


Tammy said...

I happened to read a couple of articles today that shed some additional light on this passage that I found very interesting!
In this article the writer says....

In the Hebrew tradition, everything rightfully belonged to God. By using the words, "image and inscription," Jesus has already reminded His interrogators that God was owed exclusive allegiance and total love and worship. Similarly, everything economically belonged to God as well. For example, the physical land of Israel was God's, as He instructed in Leviticus 25:23, "The land [of Israel] shall not be sold in perpetuity; for the land is mine, and you [the Israelites] are but aliens who have become my tenants." In addition, the Jewish people were to dedicate the firstfruits, that first portion of any harvest and the first-born of any animal, to God. By giving God the firstfruits, the Jewish people acknowledged that all good things came from God and that all things, in turn, belonged to God. God even declares, "Mine is the silver and mine the gold."

The emperor, on the other hand, also claimed that all people and things in the empire rightfully belonged to Rome. The denarius notified everyone who transacted with it that the emperor demanded exclusive allegiance and, at least, the pretense of worship — Tiberius claimed to be the worshipful son of a god. Roman occupiers served as a constant reminder that the land of Israel belonged to Rome. Roman tribute, paid with Roman currency, impressed upon the populace that the economic life depended on the emperor. The emperor's bread and circuses maintained political order. The propaganda on the coin even attributed peace and tranquility to the emperor.

With one straightforward counter-question, Jesus skillfully points out that the claims of God and Caesar are mutually exclusive. If one's faith is in God, then God is owed everything; Caesar's claims are necessarily illegitimate, and he is therefore owed nothing. If, on the other hand, one's faith is in Caesar, God's claims are illegitimate, and Caesar is owed, at the very least, the coin which bears his image.

Jesus' counter-question simply invites His listeners to choose allegiances. Remarkably, He has escaped the trap through a clever rhetorical gambit; He has authoritatively refuted His opponents' hostile question by basing His answer in scripture, and yet, He never overtly answers the question originally posed to Him. No wonder that St. Matthew ends the Tribute Episode this way: "When they heard this they were amazed, and leaving him they went away."

Tammy said...

And from this article .......
The Hebrew people we now know, thanks to good archeology and Biblical scholarship, were allowed to have the Roman Denarius Coin without the picture of Caesar on it. Devout Jews would not use the Roman Denarius, especially in their temple worship, for they considered it a desecration and betrayal of God. This is why the gospels speak of there being 'money changers' in the Temple grounds so Jewish people could exchange their 'Caesar Denarius' coins into Roman approved coins of the same value without the inscription of Caesar. This was one of the ways that Rome made a show that they offered the lowly Jews some religious respect. Since the Hebrew Torah forbids worship or 'tribute' to be given to anyone but their one God Yahweh, they were allowed to have the 'non-Caesar' in-scripted coins. Jesus' adversaries had likely forgotten this since in had no impact on their secure lives. So when Jesus' adversaries showed Jesus a 'Caesar' coin they were emphasizing, to the crowd, without realizing it that they were Caesar worshipers. And the crowd 'heard' Jesus telling his adversaries, “If this Caesar is your lord than give him everything he asks of you.” But all the oppressed Jews in the crowd knew that the Denarius they honored did not have Caesar on it. At this very moment Jesus' adversaries' attempt to entrap him was foiled. Their efforts to separate the crowd's affection for Jesus had done just the exact opposite. So the oppressed crowd would get it when Jesus added,"( But you) Give to God what is God's." Which of course is everything for the devout Jew. That made it clear that Caesar was indeed not their Lord