Summary: God is the foundational loyalty on which all others are based.
“Levels of Loyalty”
By: Rev. Kenneth Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
The Pharisees and Herodians wanted to catch Jesus in a trap.
The ruling body of the Jews--the Sanhedrin held an official meeting.
They plotted about how they might deal with this man Who was claiming to be the Messiah.
They feared Christ because He was gathering the loyalty of the people so strongly.
Their plot was to ask Jesus a question about a person’s citizenship.
The question was supposed to “trap him in his words.”...
....that is, it was supposed to be impossible for Jesus to answer their question without Him either
discrediting Himself with the people or the Roman authorities.
If Jesus discredited Himself with the people, they would react against Him and desert Him....
....if Jesus discredited Himself with the Romans--they would arrest Him!
Is is right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?
The Pharisees thought that loyalty to God and to the state were mutually exclusive.
The state and all other power and authority were to be subject to religious rule.
Therefore, they were strongly against paying taxes to a foreign king.
Now the Herodians (a political party of Herod) held that government was dominant over religion...they
believed that taxes should be paid to Caesar rather than to God.
The Pharisees and the Herodians were bitter enemies....
....and to find them together is strange indeed....
....but their common hatred of Jesus brought them together against Jesus whom they considered the common
Now, Christ is the Messiah, He is the Son of God Himself; therefore He saw through their plot.
Christ used this occasion to teach the truth about citizenship....
....a truth which is both astounding and earth-shaking!!!
Christ astounded the world by declaring that there is an earthly or physical citizenship--to which some
things need to be given...
...and there is also a spiritual, heavenly citizenship to which some things need to be given.
One of the great truths of this passage is the truth about citizenship!
Christians have two citizenships. We are citizens of this world, and because of this we owe the earthly
powers the things that belong to them.
But, if we are Christians, if we have been born from above or born of God or born again--we are also
citizens of Heaven....
...and as citizens of Heaven, we owe God what belongs to God.
Several years ago, a man sought to establish the kingdom of Heaven in Oregon.
He was put in jail twice for issuing his own license plates with the word HEAVEN embossed on the plate.
He also owed the state some $10,000 in property taxes.
This man maintained that the kingdom of heaven is not of this world....
....that it is impossible to serve both God and the state.
He and his 200 followers renounced their wordly identities and began to function only as citizens of
Heaven, insisting that Jesus did not pay taxes.
He went on to claim that the state is the anti-Christ, and that the courts are the dens of Satan.
He taught that the black robes of the judges indicate that they are henchmen from hell--conducting
He urged his followers to become ‘unyoked’ from the governments of this world...
...to throw away state-issued drivers’ licenses and Social Security cards...
...to cancel car insurance...
...bank accounts and so forth.
This man’s argument is essentially the same as the argument of the Pharisees and the religious zealots of
Christ was brilliant and brief as He dealt with the Pharisees and their false concept of citizenship....
“Show me the coin used for paying the tax....Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,’ they replied.”
In doing this, Jesus forced the Pharisees to admit that some things do indeed belong to an earthly power.
The image was Caesar’s; the superscription was Caesar’s, and the coin had been made by Caesar’s
Therefore, the coin was Caesar’s if Caesar said it was his.
The point is clear: since the religionists--as citizens--used what was owned and provided by Caesar,
then they owed Caesar what was due him.
Christ said strikingly: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
Christ revealed a very important truth for all beleivers...
....we have a double citizenship!
We are citizens of heaven, yes, but we are also citizens of this world.
We have an obligation to the government under which we live.
Just like unbelievers, we, as Christians receive the benefits of government....like roads, sewage, water,
protection, public transportation and so forth...and we need to pay our share.
If we don’t pay our bills and taxes...we’ll go to jail.
But what happens if we don’t give to God what is God’s?
All humans are coined in God’s image because God created us all....