“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
“Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.’ And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Here’s the catch – not only is he deftly sidestepping the barbs of the Pharisees, and neutralising their attack, Jesus actually spins it right back on them, with subtlety.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:27
Jesus says that Caesar has marked out that coin, by placing his image on it. Caesar is the authority when it comes to them. But the Pharisees have completely missed the point – God has marked out something with his own image. Just as they were to give to Caesar what Caesar owned, so God is the rightful owner of our bodies, our essence, everything we are.
This event isn’t just saying “No, Pharisees, you won’t catch me out like that,” or finding a sneaky way to make the Pharisees look foolish. This runs right to the heart of Christianity – are you giving to God what is rightfully his?
I read this last night, and was hit by it in a way that I haven’t been before. It’s so big. I know that I don’t really live as if I am marked out for God, in the same way those coins were marked for Caesar.
And it’s even bigger than that – there’s the initial level, whereby I belong to God because he is the creator, and he has marked me with his image (how awesome is that! Praying that I can keep remembering that).
And then there’s the fact that he bought me with a price, paying the ransom with Jesus’ blood.
I’ve been pretty convicted that I don’t have the sort of focus I ought to. I’m always caught up in thinking through complicated scenarios, and theological tricks. Which is good. But the danger is losing sight of the fact that beyond all that, the image I have is that of God, and I should live with that in my heart, in my mind, and on my lips.