Render unto Caesar – Richard Wurmbrand
What does it mean when Jesus said “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s”? (Matthew 22:21). Richard Wurmbrand a Romanian Pastor who spent 14 years in prison and 3 years in solitary confinement for simply preaching Jesus had an interesting take on it. I happen to think that there is a lot of merit in what he says here, but even if you disagree at least allow your mind to think through what he has to say. This is taken from one of Richard’s many writings. (Some of the examples he uses may be a bit old now but they still make the point)
“The words “Render unto Caesar” have been misunderstood. Jesus did not advise his disciples to give anything to Caesar. His words where address to the Pharisees. The Pharisees and Jesus’ disciples were at odds with one another: the words were spoken to Jesus’ detractors, not His friends.
Who was this Caesar anyway? A foreign conqueror who had occupied Israel, He had contributed nothing to its well-being. He had never planted a tree, built a highway, or even visited the country. Yet he had established tax-collectors to milk its riches, and had slaughtered anyone who dared resist his edicts. Nothing in Israel belonged to Caesar.
If you say to a Czech, Hungarian or Pole, ‘Render to the Soviets the things which belong to them’, he would understand you instantly. Nothing belongs to them. These words can only mean, ‘Give them a boot in the back and send them packing.’
This was the true sense of Jesus’ words. If the Pharisees were so convinced that they serve God, why were their minds preoccupied with things which are not godly? Jesus commands them, ‘Do both things: serve a tyranny and serve God at the same time.’ He knew they would soon realize that these things are not compatible. One must choose between being Caesar’s bootlicker and a true servant of God who stands before a godless King like Herod and tells him to his face, ‘What you do is unlawful.’ This is the attitude which cost John the Baptist his head.
It is a misuse of Jesus’ words to interpret them as counselling submissiveness to despots. My own interpretation is in fact the contrary. Just as the soul is higher than the body, so the sacerdotal dignity excels and instructs the regal; the celestial, the terrestrial. It is the duty of Kings to obey Scriptural leaders, rather than the reverse.”