We are waiting for the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him.
You therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, beware that you are not carried away with the error of the lawless and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
To you I lift up my eyes
who are enthroned in heaven.
Behold, as the eyes of servants
are on the hands of their masters. (R./)
As the eyes of a maidservant
are on the hands of her mistress,
So are our eyes on the Lord, our God,
till he have pity on us. (R./)
Some Pharisees and Herodians were sent to Jesus to trap him in what he said. And they came and said to him, "Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?" But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, "Why are you putting me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me see it." And they brought one. Then he said to them, "Whose head is this, and whose title?" They answered, "The emperor's." Jesus said to them, "Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's." And they were utterly amazed at him.
The question that the messengers asked Jesus is not sincere; it is merely an effort to trap him into an answer that would lose him the respect of the public, or put him in danger with the law. If he answered, "Yes, pay your taxes to Caesar," he would lose the esteem of the Jewish public, who resented the Romans as invaders of their land. But if he says, "No, refuse to pay taxes to Caesar" he would be liable to arrest and trial by the Romans.
Jesus was asked many questions in the course of his public ministry and if the question came from an honest heart he took it seriously. On this occasion the questioners were clearly out to get him; but he answered their question, insincere though it was. His answer was enigmatic and could mean several things: "Render to Caesar..." People should give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give back to God what belongs to God.
The coin can be given to Caesar because it bears his image, but what should go to God is more fundamental. A little later, Jesus will spell it out: to love with all our heart, soul and mind. God is to be our first and greatest love, our primary commitment. That cannot apply to any human authority, political or otherwise. No Caesar, king or president, no political institution, no authority can ever take the place of God in our lives.