Then Jesus said to them, ‘Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s. (Matthew 22:21)
The Pharisees have been scheming to entrap Jesus. They think that they have finally devised a question that will incriminate and condemn Jesus no matter how He answers: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?”
Although the question may seem rather innocent, treachery lurks. If Jesus says “yes” to paying taxes, the people who resent the Roman occupation will desert Him. If Jesus says “no,” the religious authorities will report Him to the Romans as an insurrectionist.
Jesus asks for a coin and then asks whose image is on it. When the Pharisees say Caesar’s, Jesus says these familiar words: “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s and to God the things that are God’s.”
Jesus once more avoids being trapped, cornered, or outfoxed. The Pharisees are “amazed” and walk away, once more dumbfounded and frustrated.
If we think this is just a quaint story from long ago, may I invite us to think again. I am not going to get into what belongs to Caesar, but what are the things that belong to God?
Here is the basis for this last question: Just as coins are minted in Caesar’s image—whether that be the Roman government from long ago or our government now—so we are minted in God’s image. So, again: What belongs to God?
Think about your life for a moment; what do you owe to the God who created you, to Jesus who gave His life to forgive you, to the Holy Spirit who walks with you every moment? Is there anything in your life that doesn’t belong to God?
Here are three questions we all need to ask ourselves. First, do others see that we are minted in God’s image? Second, do we look for how others are minted in His image? Third, do we recognize in whose image we are minted?
When coins get defaced or when bills get too shabby, they are withdrawn from circulation. Although it can seem that we can get defaced or shabby, God will never withdraw His love. Although we can feel worthless because of what we have done or not done, we could never matter more to God. Our value to God can’t be measured.
Why did God send Jesus to us? Jesus came to love us, teach us, heal us, restore us, and forgive us. Jesus also came to re-mint us and to make us new. That is part of the great hope that He brings to our lives. He can and will restore us to the original imprint of God’s image on our lives. May we always hold fast that just as all coins belong to the treasury of the government, so all of us belong to the One who treasures us now and forever.
- Are there any changes you could make so that others would more often see that you are minted in God’s image?
- How would your relationships change if you more often looked for how others are minted in God’s image?
- How would your life change if you more often remembered that you are minted in God’s image?