When the scribes and chief priests realized that Jesus had spoken this parable against them, they sought to arrest Him that very hour. But they were afraid of the people.
So they watched Him closely and sent spies who pretended to be sincere. They were hoping to catch Him in His words in order to hand Him over to the rule and authority of the governor. “Teacher,” they inquired, “we know that You speak and teach correctly. You show no partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
“Caesar’s,” they answered.
The Pharisees and the religious leaders could not just use their spiritual authority to shut Jesus up. They needed the government authorities to step in, and in order for that to happen, they needed to trick Jesus into taking political stands. Only then would the authorities care. On this particular day, taxes would be the issue.
Today in America, we are part of a system of self-government. Our opinions on taxes mean more when you have representation in the government. Our rulers do so with our consent, sort of. The Jews, under Roman rule, had taxation without representation. Instead of addressing that issue, Jesus just said to pay them. The important part was to give to God what belonged to Him: your heart, mind, and soul.
God still wants our hearts, minds, and souls. That should be our first concern. It gets tricky when the government wants more than taxes. When they want your heart, mind, and soul, that is a line we cannot let them cross. It’s the reason why being able to to speak your mind is sacred. And asking you to violate your conscience a tax too high.