We Have No King but Caesar
“They cried out, ‘Away with him, away with him, crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar.'” – John 19:15
So said the chief priests and religious leaders of the Jews at Jesus’ trial. Pretty remarkable statement for men who claimed to obey and worship the God of the universe. Of course, they acknowledged no God among the sons of men, even though the Scriptures are replete with prophecies of a coming Messiah, the promise of One who would be the mediator between God and man, One who according to Job would one day stand on the earth and be looked upon with our own eyes from our own flesh, and this after he had already been born, lived, and died on the earth followed by resurrection and ascension. These were men who studied the Scriptures as a way of life. How could they miss it so blatantly? It is as though none of these promises and prophecies were ever spoken or written, though all of Scripture was written with them as the intended focus.
In just a few weeks you will celebrate Holy Week once again, the week in which Jesus’ trial had taken place, followed by the carrying out of his death sentence; a trial in which the chief priests and rulers answered Pilate emphatically, “We have no king but Caesar!” Do you as a matter of course give the same answer, not with words so much, but with the example of your life? With the way you live out life’s demands day after day?
It is pretty evident what earthly authority is paramount in your everyday life, who your Caesar is. You pay income taxes next month, every time you buy something sales taxes are applied, you approximately obey speed limits, you obey the laws government legislates, you respond affirmatively to the decisions rendered by the courts, your health care is under the “king.” You are physically protected by government run police and military. Your entire life is under a system of commands established and maintained by the government of the land in which you are a citizen. You apparently have a king whom we refer to as “Caesar.”
Is there a King in your life who by words, thoughts, and deeds supersedes Caesar? How is His sovereignty and authority in your life manifested in the midst of your paying unto Caesar what is Caesar’s? How evident is His rule in your life? Do others notice?
Caesar is so overly-integrated into your life that overtly acknowledging a superior King who stands out to a watching world is something that, if true, must be done with holy intention; with a life of holy habit which cannot but help catch the eye of your neighbors. Not that it is done for the purpose of show, but as a distinction of serious devotion, done solely for His praise.
Are your possessions His? Show it by your tithes and gifts, in money and service. Is your family His? Show it by your love, honor, instruction, and protection for them? Is His house your house? Show it by your consistent worship and fellowship there and with His family. Is your time His? Show it by your significant time of private and corporate prayer and as a serious student of His Word. Is your conversation His? Show it by His acknowledged presence in every conversation, by the proclamation of the gospel introduced naturally as the love of your life. Is your life His? Show it by your obedience to His commands in thought, word and deed.
If you belong to Jesus, never allow your answer to the world to be, “I have no king but Caesar.” Caesar is a necessary function of a fallen world. King Jesus is your all in all!
“King of my life I crown thee now, thine shall the glory be; lest I forget thy thorn-crowned brow, lead me to Calvary. Lest I forget Gethsemane; lest I forget thine agony; lest I forget thy love for me, lead me to Calvary.”
(1st verse of Jennie Hussey’s hymn, “King of My Life, I Crown Thee Now,” 1921)
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