by Jim Kaness

Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and give to God what is God's.” [Matthew 22:21 and Mark 12:17] In Jesus' day, Caesar was the head of the Roman Empire which occupied and ruled Israel. Indeed, many wanted Jesus to be a political leader who would unite Israel against the Romans and throw the Romans out of Israel. [Matthew 26:55, Mark 11:10, Mark 14:48]

But political action was not the mission of Jesus. Jesus said he came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. [Matthew 5:17] Jesus came to bring change into the lives of individual people, regardless of their government or their station in life. It is our individual relationship with God that matters- not our political philosophy or social standing (rich or poor, slave or free, gender or ethnicity).

Jesus was familiar with the writings that it is God who appoints kings and rulers over us, whether elected presidents or bullying dictators [Daniel 2:17 and Daniel 4:17]. This thought is repeated in Romans 13:1-2. Click Here for further discussion on this theme.

Was Jesus 'liberal' or 'conservative' as we use those words today? Jesus certainly taught us to help the poor and needy and to be generous in our giving. Jesus told the rich young man, "...sell your possessions and give to the poor..." [Matthew 19:21, Mark 10:21, Luke 18:22] That makes him sound rather 'liberal'. On the other hand, Jesus appeared quite 'conservative' when he told that same rich young man, "...obey the commandments..."; [Matthew 19:17, Mark 10:18, Luke 18:19] One more example, which echoes words we often hear today, happened when Jesus was at the home of Simon the Leper. A woman came and poured very expensive perfume on Jesus' head. Jesus' disciples exclaimed, “Why this waste? This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Jesus responded in part, “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me”. [Matthew 26:6 - 13, Mark 14:3 - 11, John 12:1 - 8] I suggest that Jesus was neither 'liberal' nor 'conservative' but that he was the best of BOTH in full measure!

Jesus taught us to be responsible by paying our debts and taxes [Matthew 17:24] and fair and honest, while being kind and merciful and generous to those we meet who need our help [Matthew 6:2, Matthew 23:23]. But the Bible does point out the difference between those who truly need help and those who are just lazy and seek to play on our emotions to gain undeserved sympathy and help [Matthew 12:36 and 2 Thessalonians 3:6 - 15].

As citizens of whatever political system we find ourselves in, we can participate as we are inclined (Giving to Caesar what is Caesar's), but it is God who is directing the course and future of the leader of that political entity.


Copyright © 9/6/2014 by Jim Kaness