Mark 12:13-17 – The Question about Paying Taxes
Then they sent to him some Pharisees and some Herodians to trap him in what he said. And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why are you putting me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me see it.” And they brought one. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Jesus said to them, “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were utterly amazed at him.
How tightly do we hold to the Almighty Dollar? I know I am one who struggles with this – the vice for my enneagram type (5) is a arcade or greed. Not greed in the sense of Scrooge but a response to real (or imagined) fears of not having enough of money or any of a host of other things. I don’t think our struggle is the same as those here talking to Jesus – they saw the problem as being unfaithful to God by paying taxes to the emperor. Jesus of course disarms this. Our struggle (at least here in the US) is not the issue of paying taxes but a) how much we pay and b) how those taxes are spent by the government. Ultimately, in my opinion, much of our struggles with taxes underneath all that is how tightly we want to hold on to “our” money. This passage reminds me that all that we have is ultimately not ours and what we are called to hold to are not the things of the emperor, but the things of God.