The Pharisees and Herodians were sent to Jesus to try and entrap him. The chief priests were looking for a reason to arrest Jesus and hoped that he could be trapped by teaching something opposing the laws of the land.
First they tried to get under Jesus’ guard with flattery saying they knew he would speak truth and truly taught the ways of God. Then they asked him whether it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not. (Verse 14) Here is a classic trick of the devil and his people. First get close through smooth talk than hit them right between the eyes!
But Jesus was having none of that. He was well aware of their malice and evil intent. So rather than fall into their trap he said, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a coin and let me look at it.” (Verse 15) And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesars.” So he replied, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” (Verses 16-17)
What an insightful answer! What could they say in reply? He had their measure completely and the wisdom of God is greater for there is a message in these words that rings true even more today.
Today we see that some churches preach and practice tithing. But they do not follow the details of tithing as it was laid down in scripture. Nor do they recognise that tithing is not even part of the Christian covenant. Tithing was a requirement of the law given by Moses to the people of Israel for the purpose of keeping the temple and the priests of the tribe of Levi as they had no inheritance in the division of the land.
But today these churches are taking money, which was not what the tithe was all about. The tithe originally was of various kinds of produce, not money. The produce was in essence the gift of God, so the people were tithing what God had given them.
But money as we can see by Jesus statement was not the gift of God but the invention of man. Who created the money in Jesus discussion with the Pharisees and Herodians? Caesar. Jesus thus said in relation to paying taxes that money was the invention of man and that it should be paid to the creator of that money…the government, represented here by Caesar. Nowhere in the Bible are we told to render to God the things that are Caesars, or vice versa.
There is a lot that comes from this scripture which needs to be said in relation to tithing. If you would like to learn more about the deeper issues of tithing and the ramifications for the Christian church, follow this link to a PDF document on my website which discusses this in depth.
(Picture sourced from stock.xchng http://www.sxc.hu/)