2017 2nd Quarter
Lesson 4, April 15-21, Social Relationships
Thursday, April 20
“Christ’s reply was no evasion, but a candid answer to the question. Holding in His hand the Roman coin, upon which were stamped the name and image of Caesar, He declared that since they were living under the protection of the Roman power, they should render to that power the support it claimed, so long as this did not conflict with a higher duty. But while peaceably subject to the laws of the land, they should at all times give their first allegiance to God.
“The Saviour’s words, ‘Render … unto God the things that are God’s,’ were a severe rebuke to the intriguing Jews. Had they faithfully fulfilled their obligations to God, they would not have become a broken nation, subject to a foreign power. No Roman ensign would have waved over Jerusalem, no Roman sentinel would have stood at her gates, no Roman governor would have ruled within her walls. The Jewish nation was then paying the penalty of its apostasy from God.
“When the Pharisees heard Christ’s answer, ‘they marveled, and left Him, and went their way.’ He had rebuked their hypocrisy and presumption, and in doing this He had stated a great principle, a principle that clearly defines the limits of man’s duty to the civil government and his duty to God. In many minds a vexed question had been settled. Ever after they held to the right principle. And although many went away dissatisfied, they saw that the principle underlying the question had been clearly set forth, and they marveled at Christ’s far-seeing discernment.” (Ellen White, Desire of Ages, 602, 603, emphasis added.)
“Only a few days before this the Pharisees had tried to entrap Christ with the question, ‘Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar?’ But Christ had unveiled their hypocrisy. The Romans who were present had seen the utter failure of the plotters, and their discomfiture at His answer, ‘Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s.’ Luke 20:22-25.
“Now the priests thought to make it appear that on this occasion Christ had taught what they hoped He would teach. In their extremity they called false witnesses to their aid, ‘and they began to accuse Him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ a King.’ Three charges, each without foundation. The priests knew this, but they were willing to commit perjury could they but secure their end.
“Pilate saw through their purpose. He did not believe that the prisoner had plotted against the government. His meek and humble appearance was altogether out of harmony with the charge. Pilate was convinced that a deep plot had been laid to destroy an innocent man who stood in the way of the Jewish dignitaries. Turning to Jesus he asked, ‘Art Thou the King of the Jews?’ The Saviour answered, ‘Thou sayest it.’” And as He spoke, His countenance lighted up as if a sunbeam were shining upon it.” (Ellen White, Desire of Ages, 725, 726, emphasis added.)