Then he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a pit for the wine press, and built a watchtower; then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. 2When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce of the vineyard. 3But they seized him, and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. 4And again he sent another slave to them; this one they beat over the head and insulted. 5Then he sent another, and that one they killed. And so it was with many others; some they beat, and others they killed. 6He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 7But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. 9What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10Have you not read this scripture: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 11this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’?” 12When they realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowd. So they left him and went away. 13Then they sent to him some Pharisees and some Herodians to trap him in what he said. 14And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not? 15Should we pay them, or should we not?” But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why are you putting me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me see it.” 16And they brought one. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” 17Jesus said to them, “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were utterly amazed at him. (Mark 12:1-17, NRSV)
Give to the emperor what is the emperor’s and give to God what is God’s. Interesting line when we get confused with what is ours and what is God’s.
But the story of the vineyard makes no sense with the tenants beating and killing the servants of the land owner because he is wanting his portion but then it really goes off the deep end with them killing the son so the inheritance of the vineyard would be theirs. Really? Is that how an inheritance works? If I kill the one who would inherit then I get the inheritance? Doesn’t make sense. But isn’t that really how we all work?
We think everything we have is ours and we shouldn’t pay taxes or give anything to God. But God gifted us and gave us the skills to get what we have so technically everything we have is God’s.
So we need to give to the emperor what is the emperor’s and what to God is God’s.