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Jesus on paying taxes to the emperor.

MATTHEW 22:15-21

The Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap [Jesus] in speech. They sent their disciples to Him, with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that You are a truthful man and that You teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And You are not concerned with anyone's opinion, for You do not regard a per[logical not]son's status. Tell us, then, what is Your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?" Knowing their malice, Jesus said, "Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the coin that pays the census tax." Then they handed Him the Roman coin. He said to them, "Whose image is this and whose inscription?" They replied, "Caesar's." At that He said to them, "Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God."

WHEN RELIGION AND POLITICS MEET

The Pharisees, popular teachers of God's Law in Jesus' time, have no love for the Herodians, influential Jews connected to the Herodian dynasty who favor introducing the Greek way of life in Israel. The Pharisees are defenders of the Law, successors of the Hasidim (the "pious ones") who fought with the Maccabees against the Hellenizing Seleucid kings and were instrumental in preserving the faith of Israel.

The Pharisees have no reason to collaborate with the Herodians. But in the Gospel, their envy of Jesus' growing popularity makes them join hands with the Herodians to trap Jesus on the question of taxes. A "Yes" from Jesus will favor the Herodians but will antagonize the people (and the Pharisees!) who will brand Jesus a "collaborator of the Romans." A "No," on the other hand, will make Jesus a rebel in the eyes of the Roman authorities who are governing Jerusalem. Jesus has no escape.

"Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God." Jesus' sharp answer is right on target; the Pharisees' stratagem boomerangs. If they can unite in malice with the unprincipled Herodians to trap Jesus, they are far from giving God His due: An honest heart. Why should they sacrifice their principles just to put Jesus down? Jesus works for the interest of God alone. He is transparent and devoid of political coloring. This they themselves acknowledge in their introduction: "You teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone's opinion, for you do not regard a person's status."

All Christians have the duty to share their faith in Christ. But Christians must always be aware that the Gospel is best preached if it is not tied to the interests of a political party no matter how saintly its leaders may appear. For it is not farfetched that Christians will give to political leaders what belongs to God and end up compromising their beliefs and protecting the vested interests of a few.

SOURCE: 365 Days with the Lord 2014, ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: books@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.

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Title Annotation:Opinions and Editorials
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Oct 18, 2014
Words:522
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