“Then he said to them, ‘Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.” (Matthew 22:21-22)
In response to Jesus’ rebukes, the main ruling political-religious sects of the Jews banded together to oppose Jesus and trip Him in the hope that He would make a blatant statement that would cause Him to lose favor with the people, or incriminate Himself under either the Mosaic or Roman law. Their attempts failed because Jesus exposed their evil intentions with a demonstration of His own divine authority that forced them to answer their own question. Because they stood opposed to God, these religious politicians failed to see the truth. They failed to believe in Him. They lacked the spiritual insight, courage and wisdom to answer Him properly.
When we look at Jesus’ answer we see that He commends the paying of taxes to government as well as respecting its authority and obeying its laws, a teaching timely both then and now. Jesus’ answer, however, goes further. He commends giving to God what is His due. When we look at our own lives we realize that we fall short of what Jesus demands. This is because what He requires of us is perfect faith, love and obedience, qualities which we are incapable of giving Him without His grace and strength. Jesus went to the cross a few days after this encounter to enable us to have such faith, to make us righteous in God’s sight as He became sin for us.