Posted On April 15, 2009
When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?” Peter said to Him, “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.” – Matthew 24:24-27.
Then they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You say and teach rightly, and You do not show personal favoritism, but teach the way of God in truth: Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” But He perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Why do you test Me? Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?” They answered and said, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, ” Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” – Luke 20:21-25.
Today is the day in the United States that most citizens are required to file a tax return. Some of us may file extensions and send in the completed form later, however, whatever money you owe is still due today. Failure to file your tax return is a crime and failure to pay will result in accumulating financial penalties and interest charges. So, even if you do not have the money to pay all that you may owe in taxes you should always file your tax return. Although I have personally known some people who have not filed a tax return in many years…I guess you could call that a denial of the reality of the world in which we live.
Across the United States today tax protests in the form of tea parties are being held. The original tea party helped to stir the colonies to rebel against England back in the 1700s. Some 2,000 tea parties are planned today but no one really knows how many will attend or what impact they may have. No doubt many of us are frustrated by the amount of taxes that we pay and what now appears to be an increasing tax burden coming our way.
One question for us as Christians is whether or not God would have us to pay our taxes? The answer is, yes. Jesus paid not only the Roman tax but also the temple tax. One problem with the Roman tax was that the Roman Emperor claimed that he was divine. So if the tax was paid would it amount to worship of a pagan god? Jesus answered the question by saying, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
For those of you that believe in a very literal translation of the Bible here are some questions. Since Jesus paid his taxes with a coin should we only pay our taxes with coins? Perhaps pennies? Then, of course, you have the fish question. Are you only able to pay your taxes if you go fishing and find a coin in the mouth of the fish you catch?
The good news from the Bible about tax day comes from Matthew 6:25-26 as Jesus says, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
(As Christians do we pay our taxes or not?)