What Has God’s Image on it, Give to God


We are continuing from yesterday (scroll down for yesterday’s thoughts), thinking on the attacks on the Lord Jesus by the religious elite, who were upset that Jesus had put a stop to their money-making schemes in the temple courts. They tried to discredit Him before the people. They asked the Lord, “Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” (Luke 20:22). Along with the property taxes that were due, the Romans also required an annual tax of one denarius. The coin was about a day's wages for a common laborer that every adult had to pay. When Jesus was just a child, the heavy tax issue had caused the deaths of many people. Josephus, the Jewish historian, records a severe revolt against heavy taxes.[1] The Jewish leaders sought to bring Jesus on one side of the issue or the other. If Jesus said that it was right, He would alienate the Jewish people listening to Him. If He said that it was not right, then the wrath of Rome would be brought down on Him.

He saw through their duplicity and responded to them by requesting that they show Him a denarius coin, and He then asked them whose portrait and inscription was on it. The request was a simple one, "Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?" 25"Caesar's," they replied (Luke 20:23-25).

Why do you think Jesus asked to see a denarius coin? This coin was detestable to the Jewish people. It had an image of Caesar embossed on it with an inscription around the image declaring him to be divine. Most Jewish people at the time did not even like to have a denarius in their possession due to the image of Caesar and all it represented. The religious leaders, though, came up with a denarius, more than likely obtained from the ill-gotten gains of the money-changing going on in the Temple Courts. They had no qualms about an image of Caesar in their pockets! Perhaps, as the Lord looked at the coin, He was focusing on the fact that there were “two sides to the coin.” The image of Caesar on the coin was understood to be a property symbol: it belonged to Caesar. When they replied that it was Caesar’s image, He said: “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (v. 25).

If Caesar's image was on it, then it undoubtedly belonged to Caesar. The other view was that, in the same way, what has God's image on it, give to God. In the beginning, in Genesis, the first chapter, verse 26, God created man in His image. The divine image is stamped on every human being on planet Earth, though marred by sin. Within every one of us, there is a missing piece, a God-shaped void, a divine imprint that can only be filled with God Himself. He is our Creator, and we are His treasured possession. We are made in His image! Just as Caesar had the right of ownership over the coins, God has the right to ownership over our souls, and we do well to give to God what belongs to Him. While we live in this world, we are to be subject to the authorities, but we are not to serve them when their law conflicts with God's moral law. The Sadducees were astonished by His answer and became silent. Again, the religious elite had been publically out-witted with their attempt to discredit Christ, and their attack was brought to nothing. Give to God what is God’s and let Him fully stamp you with the character of Jesus. Keith Thomas

Shortened from the more extensive study at the following link: Questions About Eternity.

[1] R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word, Luke, Volume 2. Published by Crossway Books, 1998. Page 265.