“Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law.”
― Thomas Paine
The Pharisees of Jerusalem discussed how they might entrap Jesus into saying something foolish. In those times, the Roman authorities would arrest anyone who challenged their authority to tax the people. According to the law of Moses, the Jews were to have no king but Yahweh, their god. After settling on a plan, they sent their disciples to Jesus, along with the Herodians.
“Master,” they said to Jesus, “we know that you are truthful, and teach the way of God in truth. You neither favor any man, nor hold regard for the position of men. Tell us therefore, what you think: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?”
“Why do you tempt me, you hypocrites?” said Jesus. “Show me the tribute money.”
One of them brought forth a penny.
“Whose image is this, and whose inscription?” Jesus asked him.
“Caesar’s,” the man replied.
“Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to Yahweh the things that are Yahweh’s,” said Jesus.
When the disciples of the Pharisees heard these words, they were amazed, and left him. But unlike the Jews of Jerusalem, who saw the temple and the law as the physical manifestation of Yahweh on earth, Jesus believed in a god who was not interested in taxes or temporal rulers, but rather was concerned with the spirit and virtue of men.