Once again recently I’ve heard a politician justify his plans for raising taxes by quoting Jesus responding to his interrogators in the Temple. They have inquired of Jesus whether it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus asks them to show him a coin, and they produce a Roman coin showing the emperor as a god. Jesus does not, as some uninformed “historians” state, ask to hold and examine the coin—that would have been blasphemous in his view. When he is shown the coin, Jesus says, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God that which is God’s. The interrogators walk away, thwarted in their attempt to trick Jesus into revealing that he is an enemy of the state.
Jesus’ answer is brilliant—although very often misunderstood. In Jesus’ view, EVERYTHING belongs to God, which means there is nothing for Caesar. Politicians who cite this incident to prove Jesus’ agrees with their view of taxation are liars or fools, possibly both.