“Jesus would back my tax-the-rich policy.”
President Obama really did say that at the recent National Prayer Breakfast.
He went on to say that his understanding of the Bible is his basis for his economic policies.
So the question is: Which Governmental authority was Jesus so supportive of?
We have four choices: The Pharisees, The Sadducees, The local government, represented by Herod the Tetrarch, or the Roman government under Caesar Tiberius, represented by Pontius Pilate?
We all know his opinion of the Pharisees and Sadducees: Matthew 23:27
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.”
This would be his opinion of Congress: Luke 11:46
And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.”
On Herod: Mark 8:15
And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”
[ James Killed and Peter Imprisoned ] About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church.
Could it have been the Roman Empire that deserved the taxes? Jesus did say: Matthew 22:15-22
Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” 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 marvelled. And they left him and went away.
The tax mentioned was really a “tribute” and refers to a poll, or head tax, paid directly to the emperor by the subject peoples of the empire.
By His enigmatic response, did Jesus really mean for His followers to provide financial support (willingly or unwillingly) to Tiberius Caesar – a man, who, in his personal life, was a pedophile, a sexual deviant, and a murderer and who, as emperor, claimed to be a god and oppressed and enslaved millions of people, including Jesus’ own? The answer, of course, is: the traditional, pro-tax interpretation of the Tribute Episode is simply wrong. Jesus never meant for His answer to be interpreted as an endorsement of Caesar’s tribute or any taxes.
Instead of jumping into the political discussion, though, Jesus curiously requests to see the coin of the tribute. It is not necessary that Jesus possess the coin to answer their question. He could certainly respond without seeing the coin. That He requests to see the coin suggests that there is something meaningful about the coin itself.
In the Tribute Episode, the questioners produce a denarius. The denarius was approximately 1/10 of a troy ounce of silver and roughly worth a day’s wages for a common laborer. It carried the image of Tiberius, and Tiberius was so jealous of his image that Tiberius even made it a capital crime to carry any coin stamped with his image into a bathroom or a brothel.
Jesus then asks the counter question “Whose image is on the coin? They answer Caesar’s. But that is not all. The inscription also says “Tiberius Caesar, Worshipful Son of the God, Augustus.” And on the other side it says “Pontif Maxim,” which means High Priest.
It was at tha point Jesus says “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. “
It really had nothing to do with the lawfulness of paying taxes, but an admonition to keep their priorities straight.
So what is Jesus attitude towards collective duty versus individual responsibility?
An answer can be found in the parable of the ten talents: Matthew 25:14-30 “For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. 16 Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. 17 In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. 18 But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 “Now after a long time the master of those slaves *came and * settled accounts with them. 20 The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
22 “Also the one who had received the two )talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
24 “And the one also who had received the one (L)talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. 25 And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’
26 “But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. 27 Then you ought to have put my money ]in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. 28 Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’
29 “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. 30 Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
If that doesn’t speak of individual responsibility before God, I do not know what will.
Oh, and with Jesus saying you should have put the talent in the bank, so I would have received my money back with usury he preempted Sharia Law which forbids interest payment on loans. Therefore Sharia Law is not of God.