An Alternative View on Taxes

The centuries immediately before and after the 100s CE in the Greco-Roman world were increasingly violent. There were frequent uprisings, attempted coups, assassinations of political leaders, reform efforts and massacres of Jews and other groups led by the Romans. Palestine, the holy land, was being controlled by the ever-expanding Roman Empire. The exiled Israelites sometimes tried to “get it back” through such violent means. Besides this ongoing struggle, the Romans also brought in new religious threats, political threats and various forms of coercion—not to mention religious and cultural (Hellenistic) agendas. Revolts against this paganization stem all the way back to the Maccabean Revolt in the 160s BC (today celebrated as Hanukkah).

You can imagine how much the expectation there was for political and religious liberty. The dispersed people of Israel expected a great leader who would soon overthrow the Roman government and re-establish the Kingdom of David forever.

In contrast to these traditional hopes, Jesus realized both the faux authority and violent nature of governments, armies and political coercion. When offered the equivalent of the Chair of the Federal Reserve, Managing Director of the IMF and the U.S. Presidency by satan himself (Lk 4:6), Jesus declined. (You can remove your “Jesus for President” bumper stickers now.) He knew just who it was who had “authority.” His own successful birth was outlawed (Mt 1-2), and in his adult ministry, Jesus critiqued the state and empire itself, not merely those who occupied its offices.

Read the full article at the Christian Post here.