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.”
Below are a few quotes from My favourite author the Romanian Pastor Richard Wurmbrand. I hope they inspire and maybe even shock you. Happy reading.
“The language of love and the language of seduction are the same. The one who wishes a girl for a wife and the one who wishes her for only a night both say the words, “I love you.” Jesus has told us to discern between the language of seduction and the language of love, and to know the wolves clad in sheepskin from the real sheep.” Tortured For Christ
“As there are many who believe they are Christians and in reality are not, we found that among the Russians there are many who believe they are atheists, but in reality they are not.” Tortured For Christ
“Men asked, ‘How is it that a God of love permits the triumph of evil?’… The Christian faith has an answer to such questions. For instance, Jesus told us about Lazarus, a poor beggar, oppressed as we were oppressed—dying, hungry, his wounds being licked by dogs—but in the end, angels took him to Abraham’s bosom.” Tortured For Christ
“The tortures and brutality continued without interruption. When I lost consciousness or became too dazed to give the torturers any further hopes of confession, I would be returned to my cell. There I would lie, untended and half dead, to regain a little strength so they could work on me again. Many died at this stage, but somehow my strength always managed to return. In the ensuing years, in several different prisons, they broke four vertebrae in my back, and many other bones. They carved me in a dozen places. They burned and cut eighteen holes in my body. When my family and I were ransomed out of Romania and brought to Norway, doctors in Oslo, seeing all this and the scars in my lungs from tuberculosis, declared that my being alive today is a pure miracle! According to their medical books, I should have been dead for years. I know myself that it is a miracle. God is a God of miracles. I believe God performed this wonder so that you could hear my voice crying out on behalf of the Underground Church in persecuted countries. He allowed one to come out alive and cry aloud the message of your suffering, faithful brethren.” Tortured For Christ
“The following scene happened more times than I can remember. A brother was preaching to the other prisoners when the guards suddenly burst in, surprising him halfway through a phrase. They hauled him down the corridor to their beating room. After what seemed an endless beating, they brought him back and threw him—bloody and bruised—on the prison floor. Slowly, he picked up his battered body, painfully straightened his clothing and said, ‘Now, brethren, where did I leave off when I was interrupted?’ He continued his gospel message! I have seen beautiful things!” Tortured For Christ
“One great lesson arose from all the beatings, tortures, and butchery of the Communists: that the spirit is master of the body. We felt the torture, but it often seemed as something distant and far removed from the spirit which was lost in the glory of Christ and His presence with us. When we were given one slice of bread a week and dirty soup every day, we decided we would faithfully “tithe” even then. Every tenth week we took the slice of bread and gave it to weaker brethren as our “tithe” to the Master.” Tortured For Christ
“In solitary confinement, we could not pray as before. We were unimaginably hungry; we had been drugged until we acted like idiots. We were as weak as skeletons. The Lord’s Prayer was much too long for us—we could not concentrate enough to say it. My only prayer repeated again and again was, ‘Jesus, I love You.’ And then, one glorious day I got the answer from Jesus: ‘You love me? Now I will show you how I love you.’ At once, I felt a flame in my heart, which burned like the coronal streamers of the sun. The disciples on the way to Emmaus said that their hearts burned when Jesus spoke with them. So it was with me. I knew the love of the One who gave His life on the cross for us all.” Tortured For Christ
“God sees things differently than we see them, just as we see differently than an ant. From the human point of view, to be tied to a cross and smeared with excrement is a horrible thing. Nonetheless, the Bible calls the sufferings of martyrs light afflictions. To be in prison for fourteen years is a long period to us. The Bible calls it ‘but for a moment,’ and tells us that these things are working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2Co 4:17). This gives us the right to suppose that the fierce crimes of the Communists, which are inexcusable to us, are lighter in the eyes of God than they are in our eyes. Their tyranny, which has lasted almost an entire century, may be before God, for whom a thousand years are like one day, only a moment of erring astray. They still have the possibility of being saved.” Tortured For Christ
“In our darkest hours of torture, the Son of Man came to us, making the prison walls shine like diamonds and filling the cells with light. Somewhere, far away, were the torturers below us in the sphere of the body. But the spirit rejoiced in the Lord. We would not have given up this joy for that of kingly palaces.” Tortured For Christ
“We of the Underground Church have no cathedrals. But is any cathedral more beautiful than the sky of heaven to which we looked when we gathered secretly in forests? The chirping of birds took the place of the organ. The fragrance of flowers was our incense. And the shabby suit of a martyr recently freed from prison was much more impressive than priestly robes. We had the moon and stars as candles. The angels were our acolytes who lit them.” Tortured For Christ