Some Pharisees and Herodians were sent to Jesus to ensnare him in his speech. They came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion. You do not regard a person’s status but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or should we not pay?” Knowing their hypocrisy he said to them, “Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius to look at.” They brought one to him and he said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They replied to him, “Caesar’s.” So Jesus said to them, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” They were utterly amazed at him. (Mk 12:13-17)
Every dictator in the world knows this passage by heart: “Give to Cesar what belongs to Cesar, and to God what belongs to God.” Two worlds, civil and religious, the State and God. Well, that’s NOT what Jesus said. Because when you ask yourself, “What doesn’t belong to God?” you begin to understand the point Jesus is making: Everything belongs to God. He turns the trick question back on those who want to trap him. Besides a Roman denarius was blasphemous—it had the graven image of the “Divine Cesar.” The only way to get one was to play ball with the Romans. His questioners had already sold out.