Lukeby Mike Raiter
I was asked recently why I continue to follow Jesus. One of the many reasons is Jesus himself, His love, power and wisdom. In this passage, we see the wisdom of Christ as He answers more questions designed to trap Him and have Him condemn himself (v. 20).
The first question is about the Roman poll tax (vv. 21–26), which was about a day’s wage. Jews hated it because it was a daily reminder that they were in captivity to a godless foreign power. If Jesus were to say, “Yes, pay it”, He would turn the people against Him, but if He were to say, “Don’t pay it”, then He would be an enemy of Rome. Through His answer, Jesus shows us the relationship between spiritual power and secular power.
The coin bears Caesar’s image, which marks it as belonging to him, just like every human being bears the image of God, and so we belong to God. Jesus demonstrates that we have obligations to the government while also affirming God’s sovereignty over everything and everyone.
As Christians, we pay taxes, honour our rulers, and seek the peace and prosperity of our nation. Yet we are also aliens and exiles, and must give our first allegiance to the King of Kings, who gives us the authority to preach the gospel and make disciples.
The Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection, ask a question about marriage in heaven (vv. 27–38). They make the same mistake that most people do—thinking that life in heaven will essentially be the same as life on earth, only better and longer. In effect, Jesus is saying that you can no more tell what life in heaven will be like by looking at life in this age, than you could predict what a butterfly would look like by looking at a caterpillar.
Remember that the one who has spoken to us today is much more than an earthly king. He is the eternal, glorious Son of God who sits at God’s right hand and will one day make all His enemies bow before Him (vv. 41–44). These are all great reasons to keep following Jesus.
What should Christians do when our obligation to obey the government conflicts with our commitment to the Lord Jesus?
When we think about heaven, how can we make some of the mistakes we read about in this passage? What is it about heaven that should encourage and excite us as Christians?