(i) Render unto Caesar Introduction
Render unto Caesar is outlined in the Gospel of St Matthew of the New Testament. It is centered around a question put to Jesus :
Matthew 22: 17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?
The tax in question was the annual tribute tax to Rome & Jews were not united about this tax. The Temple authorities and their retainers (including Temple scribes) collaborated with Roman rule and endorsed the tax. But Jews sympathetic to the resistance to Roman authority rejected it. Such refusal was the equivalent of sedition (overt resistence to established Law).Mainstream Bible teaching never gets out of the literal interpretation of events where as if we were to look behind the allegory of render unto Caesar we would find its mystical significance.
(ii) Render unto Caesar Scripture Interpretation
Next we will look at Matthew 22 where the religious people are trying to trick Jesus.
Matthew 22 : 15 Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.
- And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.
Herodians = represent the lower mind.
- Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?
Tribute = A tribute (from Latin tributum, contribution) is wealth, often in kind, that one party gives to another as a sign of respect or, as was often the case in historical contexts, of submission or allegiance.
Looking at the literal interpretation this question was a trap. Either a yes or no answer would have discredited Jesus. “Yes” would have compromised him with those who found the imperial domination system reprehensible and unacceptable. “No” would have made him subject to arrest for sedition.
If Jesus goes against the government then he is no longer preaching a spiritual revolution but a political revolution.
We can also apply this to our own personal lives. Are we going to respond to the spiritual impulse within or the physical/emotional one ? Are we going to meditate or concentrate on our spiritual path or the worldly life and all its impulses.
In the Bible the term used to describe these physical laws is termed CAESAR !
Caesar = the lower consciousness and its desires/attachments that pull us into the world and its associated karmic laws. Caesar represents our Material obligations and habits.
But we have a seat of consciousness in the spiritual realms which Buddha called Nirvana and the Bible termed the tabernacle.
So we laws which are active in us that constitute our worldly attachments, and there are those that are to do with the more spiritual realms.
Matthew 22 : 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?
Jesus challenges them to say what they really think with all of their prejudices rather than trying to trick him . Their motives for asking the question are not honest ? Mystically this is saying that the world is full of traps for our desire for truth and spirituality
- Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.
Jesus takes a coin. The penny is significant not in terms of the amount but by what is seen on the coin.
- And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?
Jesus asks whose picture is on the coin as it is stamped with the picture and name of the owner. In those times it was Caesar.
So the material aspects of life belonged to the GOVERNMENT of the time. The analogy here is that the material aspects of our lives belong to the government of our MIND. So we have the principle of what is without is a reflection of what is within.
The desires, & material possessions are the product of the government of the mind and the lower consciousness or left brain.
However we can also see that the laws of the mind are not subject to the laws of God and so we all have our own weaknesses which are inherent within all men as illustrated in the next verse :
Romans 8 : 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Unless one has gone beyond the mind through spiritual practise such as meditation than we are effectively dead. True life lies in the spiritual realms as shown in the Buddhas Nirvana picture above.
7. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
Our mind can never know the purity of spirit as it will always just keep doing what it does ! We are who we are and our ‘personality’ can never know God, neither is it subject to Gods laws. Therefore nobody commits sin as it is the pull of the lower self into the world and the attachments that go with it. This is one of the laws of creation.
If we look at the mess people get in, we can try to put ourselves in their position and ask if we could do any better with their mindset. This helps us become less judgemental and more humble. We can only do the best we can with what we have. This is also illustrated in Socrates Paradoxes :
- No one desires evil.
- No one errs or does wrong willingly or knowingly.
Romans 3 : 10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
We are all subject to worldly attachments and the pull of lower consciousness. No one is exempt therefore we are all equal in this sense.
Matthew 22 : 21 They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.
Render = surrender, relinquish
Do your worldly duties when you have to but make time for your spiritual path. Even if we screw up in the world due to indulgence or making poor decisions it makes no difference in once sense in that you just render (surrender) to God on your spiritual journey.
(ii) Render unto Caesar YouTube Video
The following video for ‘Render unto Caesar’ is by Bill Donahue on his channel ‘Hidden Meanings.’