Home > Uncategorized > The Sin of Socialism (2) – Understanding Jurisdictional Authority

The Sin of Socialism (2) – Understanding Jurisdictional Authority

In Matthew 22:15-21, Jesus introduces us to a principle that has served as the very foundation of American government since its beginning; namely, the principle of jurisdictional authority. Let’s go to the account:

Then the Pharisees met together to plot how to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested. 16 They sent some of their disciples, along with the supporters of Herod, to meet with him. “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You teach the way of God truthfully. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. 17 Now tell us what you think about this: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

Jesus is presented with a dilemma designed to trap him into a no-win situation. If he tells them not to pay taxes, he’s now in trouble with Caesar and the Roman government.If he instructs them to pay taxes, he would lose the respect of the common person who hated the cruel and oppressive Roman government. What will he do?

 Jesus asked for a coin. He was handed a Roman denarius, the only coin accepted for payment of the annual poll tax. On the one side was the Emperor Tiberius. Around his likeness were the words Tiberius Caesar Augustus, son of the divine Augustus. Jesus takes a look and says, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and render to God the things that are God’s.”

Because Caesar had legitimate authority over the State, Jesus instructed them to pay the required taxes. But Jesus added a phrase that was totally radical and confrontational. He said, “Give to God what is God’s.”

You see, on the reverse side of the coin  was the image of Tiberius’s mother represented blasphemously as the “goddess of peace” along with the words “highest priest.” At this point, the State had exceeded its jurisdictional authority. While government is to be honored and respected as an institution created and ordained by God for the common good, it must never be worshipped. It must never take the place of God or try to seditiously undermine His ultimate authority.

 Caesar had stepped into the place where he thought he was both Emperor and Lord. Jesus put him in his rightful place. This is the true understanding of the separation of Church and State. It does not mean, as the common perversion goes today, that Christianity must be removed from the public square. In the pagan world, the Church and the State were often the same. Jesus was saying something totally revolutionary – the State is not Almighty. The State is not God. The authority of the State is limited. And the State must stay within its God ordained sphere of authority lest it forfeit its power.

When the government sets itself as ‘god” in the eyes of the citizens, promising to solve all their problems, promising to protect them from all their enemies, and promising prosperity for all, it takes the place that only God was meant to fill. We must worship Him alone. He is our Source, not Washington. When government fails to honor the jurisdictional limits which God has established, it becomes a counterfeit god and an idol in the hearts of the people.

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.