"Should we pay or shouldn't we? . . ." Mark 12:15
Of all the questions they could've asked Jesus, they picked the explosive issue of taxes. The religious leaders set the trap for Jesus by framing the question requiring a yes or no answer. Their question was a loaded question because it concerned the issue of loyalty to God.
But, Jesus knows their hypocrisy runs deep. Jesus avoids their trap and sets His trap for them. Jesus asks them for a coin He does not possess, and throws them off guard.
They furiously dig through their pouches while wondering what He is up to. They produce a silver coin. By producing a coin they prove they have no problem bringing an image of Caesar, the emblem of worldly power, into God’s temple. He makes them look foolish. By possessing a coin, they already pay a kind of tribute to Caesar. In effect, Jesus says, "Let Caesar have his idols." Jesus' answer exposes a specific tension of every disciple.
Jesus does not divide life into two realms, the sacred and secular. God is after all Caesar’s lord. One owes God what bears His image and name. Since we are created in the image of God and bear His name as children of God, we owe Him our whole selves. We owe Him our heart, mind, soul and strength.
If devotion of a disciple’s life conflicts with Jesus, then we are to give our allegiance to Jesus first. Being a disciple requires personal, passionate devotion to the person – the Lord Jesus Christ. Whenever there is tension in our loyalty to Jesus, there is an opportunity to glorify God. It's an opportunity to seize the moment to live with glowing, undivided devotion to Jesus.
Jesus’ response to the religious leaders serves as a model for His followers. Jesus is always consistent in His devotion to His relationship with God the Father. So, the disciples should be just as consistent in their devotion to the life of the Son of God. The life we are called to live is not one of rigid devotion to doctrine, but to the love of God poured out in our hearts.
Are you putting Jesus first in the details of life?