This week, that we call Holy Week, in which we remember and celebrate the events that happened in the week before Jesus' death, is the most well-documented week of Jesus' life. If it was me, with all this stuff going on, my mind would be reeling. I just can't get my brain around the impromptu parade of Sunday, followed by cleaning house at the temple and teaching all week, all while one of your closest associates is plotting with your enemies to get rid of you. I can't imagine how the tide of public opinion could shift so swiftly, that they were shouting praises to a king five days before shouting even more loudly for his death.
So, today I want y'all to think about something that our children's timeline Bible says happened on Tuesday of that week, but the other Bibles just say happened sometime between the triumphal entry and the last supper. Jesus was teaching in the temple, and the religious leaders thought he was dangerous and stirring up trouble (true, true), and so they were looking for a way to get rid of him, and they sent a spy to try to trick Jesus. Let me just stop here to say, what a smart man Jesus was. He knew they were trying to trap him, which, really anyone could have seen, but he knew exactly how to transcend the situation, and not get snared in their trap. Amazing.
Anyway, the spy asked Jesus if the Jewish people should pay taxes to Caesar. This is a no-win question because if Jesus said they shouldn't pay taxes, the Roman government would be upset, and accuse Jesus of treason, but if Jesus said they should pay taxes, the Jews would be upset, and not just because they didn't like paying taxes. I'm a little vague on this, but it was something about graven images being against God's law, and, of course, the coins used to pay taxes contained a graven image.
So what did Jesus answer? He asked the spy to show him a coin, and then asked the man whose image and name appeared on the coin. "Caesar," he replied, to which Jesus answered, "well, if this is Caesar's, give it to him, but make sure you give God what belongs to Him." (that's the Step-by-Step Bible wording, you've probably heard it with renders and untos in the past). The religious leaders were "amazed" by Jesus' answer (me too). They were so sure that they had caught him, but there was nothing they could say to that. Stay tuned, though, because those religious leaders just don't give up...
I've thought a lot about the second part of Jesus' answer: "make sure you give God what belongs to Him." It gives me tingles to read that, because the Roman coins were made in Caesar's image, with Caesar's name on them, but we, flawed and imperfect as we are, are made in God's image, and God's name is written on our hearts. Sure, the Caesars of this world can have their money, but God...God demands all of each of us: everything that we are, everything that we do.