Summary: Jesus’ answer reveals that we have obligations both to man and God. Are we aware of our obligations toward God? What do we really owe Him? Our life - time, tithe, talents, and sharing our faith, among other things.
All of us have payments to make. All of us have obligations to meet. It is a way of life.
• We owe for the car. We owe for the house. We owe for the fridge.
• A bumper sticker reads, “We owe, we owe, so off to work we go.”
• We’ve got to work because we’ve so much to pay up.
Along with the debt comes the responsibility. We have a duty to pay what we owe.
In fact, Jesus revealed to us that we have a two-fold debt.
• One is a horizontal obligation – towards man, the government;
• the other is a vertical obligation, towards God.
Jesus’ answer was remarkable, considering the situation. Let’s look at the background for a moment. Two groups were out to corner Him.
• “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” - It was not a sincere question.
• Verse 13 they were out “to catch Him in His words.”
Verse 13 records that the religious leaders who were set against Jesus’ ministry sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus. For these two groups to join forces against Jesus is amazing.
• The Pharisees were highly religious people who were dedicated to keeping the law in every point. They resented the rule of Rome - secular rule.
• The Herodians were Jews sympathetic to Herod. A political party. They made accommodations to Rome and accepted freely the Roman rule.
Normally, the two groups are at odds against each other. For them to band together in a common cause would require the cause to be an extremely high priority for them both.
If Jesus said they ought to pay their taxes to Caesar, the Pharisees could have accused Him of yielding to the rule of Rome. What kind of Messiah would do that?
On the other hand, if He said not to pay tax to Caesar, the Herodians could have accused Him of being subversive, going against the Roman rule.
Jesus said it was not a question of either–or, but both. In order words,
• Whatever you owe to man, you ought to return it.
• Whatever you owe to God, give it back to God.
That is what we want to remind ourselves today.
What do we owe God? What is God’s that I should give today? Have I been giving it?
We are often made aware of our obligation towards man or the government, because people will remind us, the government will send us tax bills.
• It’s time to pay our taxes, our installments. And we have to do it on time, or else we’ve pay more for the penalty and interests.
• What about God’s? Have I been giving regularly, or have I be defrauding?
If we owe a bank, a credit card company or the government, they will send us reminders.
• But who will send me reminders when I owe God?
• To those who owe Him, in prophet Malachi’s time, God said it this way: “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me…In tithes and offerings.” (Mal 3:8).
In our text today, Jesus challenged the people to pay what they owe, both to man and to God.
• The Scripture teaches us that there are debts that cannot be left unpaid.
• As believer, Christians, we have a duty to pay what we owe.
But, what do I really owe God? Think about this seriously. This is important.
We live in a generation in which we feel that we do not owe anybody anything.
• I’m not talking about just money or any material things.
• It’s the sense of obligation, of duty, responsibility, certain commitment or discipline.
Today we have a great emphasis on freedom. We want to do our own things.
• I owe nobody an explanation for the things I do, or why I do it this way. I simply LIKE it.
• There are those who neglect their elderly parents and said, “I don’t owe them anything.”
• You feel like giving, you give. If not, don’t feel obligated. Just do what you like.
The truth is the best things in life don’t come to you that way. That’s not God’s way.
• You need to have a sense of duty, discipline, commitment, responsibility…
• Whether we like to hear it or not, we do have obligations to fulfill in life.
And Jesus makes it clear here that we have a duty towards God - we owe God something, and we need to give it back to Him.
Of course, the truth is, we have a debt to our Lord that can never be paid in full. The issue is not about paying in full, the issue is - Are we giving anything at all?