Let us make humans in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule…In the image of God he created them; male and female God created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.”Genesis 1:16-28
On Tuesday, the Pharisees sent some of their disciples, along with a group of Herodians, to start a fight they thought Jesus couldn’t win. And he turned it into his shortest sermon on the Kingdom of God.
“What is your opinion?” the men asked. “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
Now they had him! If he said Jews should pay taxes, the Zealots, who wanted to overthrow Rome with violence, would turn against him. If he said Jews should not pay taxes, the Herodians, who supported the Roman occupation, would rise up and he’d likely be arrested soon after for sedition!
“Show me the coin used for paying the tax,” Jesus requested.
Now, the coin in question was not allowed inside the Temple because it was stamped with the image of Caesar along with the blasphemous claim that he was divine. The strictest Jews, the Essenes, refused to carry or even look at this coin!
A Pharisee pulled a single denarius out of his robes. Did he blush at his own hypocrisy? Did Jesus crack even a little smirk at his questioner’s insincerity?
“Whose portrait is this?” Jesus asked. The profile of Caesar Tiberius was clearly stamped in the metal face.
“And whose inscription?” he asked. Everyone knew it was Tiberius’ claim to be the son of the Divine Emperor Augustus.
“Caesar’s” they answered.
Then Jesus taught them saying, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
This is more than a Sunday school reminder to “pay your taxes and give to your church.”
What has Caesar stamped with his image? A coin.
Where is Caesar’s claim of divinity written? On metal.
Every place the denarius circulated became a place under the reign and rule of Caesar. In fact, one of the first things the Romans did when they conquered a people was to confiscate their currency and put their own into circulation. Every coin in the empire bore the image of Caesar.
What has God stamped with his image? On what is God’s claim of divinity written?
All those who submit to the LORD as king become his image-bearers – ruling and reigning, increasing and subduing on his behalf. The King of the universe stamps the divine image into flesh and bone.
Every place you and I circulate becomes the domain of God, the kingdom of Heaven.
When the crowd heard this, they were amazed (Matthew 22:22).
• What arguments are distracting me from the work of being God’s image and expanding God’s kingdom?
Invisible God, make yourself visible through us today.
We confess that we are often better at spreading our politics, hobbies, complaints, and opinions than your kingdom. Today, as we circulate – online and offline – extend your reign and rule, compassion, love, truth, and peace.