They did not like paying taxes. The government was foreign and oppressive. Money was not so plentiful they could happily give up part of what they had. What they wanted to hear was a religious excuse from taxes. What they got was a gentle reprimand.
According to Matthew 22:21 we are to “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things which are God’s.” A country’s money most often bears the image of the nation’s leaders or former leaders. If this was Jesus’ way of telling the people to pay their taxes to the government who had issued the coins, couldn’t we assume it was also His way of reminding us to commit our lives to our Creator?
Scripture is full of ridiculous things – armies fleeing in inexplicable terror, parted waters, walking on water, and formerly dead people. However, there is a verse quite near the beginning of the New Testament that could lay claim to the prize for most socially ridiculous statement in the Bible. Matthew, when writing to the religious Hebrews of all people, said, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child.”
This is how it all started, he wrote. It was time for the wedding, but Mary was pregnant, and it wasn’t Joseph’s baby. Well, now, there is a nice start to a story. What a conversation piece! And Matthew was not finished. “She was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” If that is not ridiculous, nothing is. It is the very definition of ridiculous: “That which may justly excite laughter with contempt.”
How could anyone believe that the God of the universe would actually choose this poor, unknown girl to carry His Child? If she was pregnant, she was guilty! She needed to be punished!
Yet God’s ways are higher than ours. He saved her from the humiliations that could have legally come. Joseph did not leave her. She was not punished. In fact, she did not even need to send out “It’s a boy!” announcements. Angels took care of that for her.
Yes, the idea of God Himself coming into a poor family and living the life of the required sacrifice is crazy to any thinking person. But I am glad He doesn’t think so.