Then Jesus told them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." And they marveled at Him.
I. CHRIST WILL HAVE ACCOUNT OF THE SMALLEST THINGS. The denarius was a small coin in common use. The spirit of Christ, sun-like, discovers even the "motes." In all things there is duty. Christ's attitude to the Law not only general but particular. "Not one jot or tittle" was to pass away unfulfilled because of the influence of Christianity. "Ye are my disciples, if ye do whatsoever I have commanded you." We shall have to give account of smallest things at last - idle words, false shame, "the cup of cold water," etc. The parable of the pounds has for its moral, "He that is faithful in that which is least," etc. There is no slurring over of little things because of a general disposition and amiable intention.
II. SMALL THINGS OFTEN REPRESENT GREAT PRINCIPLES, AND BECOME THE VEHICLES OF GREAT DUTIES. Coins are often of value, apart from their intrinsic worth, in witnessing to conquests, political influences, the progress of civilization, etc.; and numismatists have made many important contributions to history through their testimony. In this case the witness was even more pregnant and precious. It proved what actually existed, and represented the claim of earthly powers. The duty to God was shown thereby to be something quite distinct, and the general relation of the human and the Divine in human obligations was thereby permanently settled and set forth. It is equally so in regard to other things. "A straw will show which way the wind blows, or the water flows." Illustrated in such instances as the Massacre of St. Bartholomew; watchwords and flag of truce in time of war; the potty dealings of common life; the "minor moralities" of the Christian, etc.
III. WE ARE ENCOURAGED AND COMMANDED TO BRING SMALL THINGS TO CHRIST Do not say he has no interest in them. See how he looks at that widow with her two mites. Hear how he calls the little children. We need a more thorough Christianity, and if we follow this rule of bringing our daily concerns, our griefs, our moral difficulties, our sins, to the throne of grace, we shall become "Israelites indeed, in whom is no guile." He will interpret the minutest uncertainty or perplexity, and show us the great in the little. Erasmus Darwin wrote (April 13, 1789): "I have just heard that there are muzzles or gags made at Birmingham for the slaves in our islands. If this be true, and such an instrument could be exhibited by a speaker in the House of Commons, it might have a great effect. Could not one of their long whips or wire-tails be also procured and exhibited? But an instrument of torture of our own manufacture would have a greater effect, I dare say" ('Life,' p. 46). - M.
Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.
I. WHAT IS DUE TO GOD? Or what are the things, the property of God, which our Saviour here requires us to render to Him? "The earth is the Lord's," etc. Of course we, and all that we possess, are God's property. More particularly —
1. Our souls with all their faculties.
2. Our bodies.
3. Our time.
4. All our knowledge and literary acquisitions.
5. Our temporal possessions.
6. Our influence.He, then, who withholds from God any of these things, or any part of them, does not comply with the precept in the text.
II. WHAT THINGS ARE DUE FROM US TO MEN?
1. All men have a right to our love.
2. To all whom God has made our superiors we owe obedience, submission and respect.
3. To our inferiors we owe kindness, gentleness and condescension.
4. Those of us who are members of Christ's visible church, owe to each other the performance of all the duties which result from our connection.
5. There are some things which we owe our families and connexions. As husbands and wives.Improvement:
1. How great, how inconceivable is the debt which we have contracted both to God and to men!
2. Our need of an interest in the Saviour, and the impossibility of being saved without Him. We evidently cannot discharge our past debts. In Christ is there help. He becomes surety for all who believe in Him. And do not reason, conscience, and a regard to our own happiness, combine with Scripture in urging us to accept the offers of this Divine benefactor, and, constrained by His love, to live henceforth to Him, and not to ourselves?
Dictionary of Illustrations.Frederic, the Elector of Saxony, who, being prisoner to Charles V, was promised enlargement and restitution of dignity, if he would come to mass. "Summum in terris dominum, agnosco Caesarem, in caelis Deum. — In all civil accommodations I am ready to yield unto Caesar, but for heavenly things I have but one Master, and therefore I dare not serve two: Christ is more welcome to me in bonds, than the honours of Caesar without Christ."
(Dictionary of Illustrations.)
Biblical Museum.A boy about nine years of age, who attended a Sabbath school at Sunderland, requested his mother not to allow his brother to bring home anything that was smuggled when he went to sea. "Why do you wish that, my child?" said the mother. He answered, "Because my catechism says it is wrong." The mother replied) "But that is only the word of a man." He said, "Mother, is it the word of a man which said, 'Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's?'" This reply entirely silenced the mother; but his father, still attempting to defend the practice of smuggling, the boy said to him, "Father, whether is it worse to rob one or to rob many?" By these questions and answers, the boy silenced both his parents on the subject of smuggling.
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