Bearing the Image of God
Vs. 21 They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
The context of this passage is about the Pharisees plotting to trap Jesus in His words. The question posed by the Pharisees was about paying taxes to Caesar. If Jesus said that paying taxes to Caesar was lawful, His influence among the people would be gone, as they would regard Him as a coward for supporting Roman taxes which the Jews hated. If Jesus would say that paying taxes was not lawful, they would have Jesus arrested by the Romans as a revolutionary.
Jesus asked them for a denarius as He did not possess it. Jesus asked them whose inscription is on it and the Pharisees replied Caesar’s. The Pharisees were marveled by the response of Jesus which is the theme verse.
Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s- The ancient view of coinage was a sign of power. Whenever a King conquered a nation, he issued his coin. The coin is valid in all places where the king holds power. The coin with the king’s inscription on it was regarded as king’s personal property. Here Jesus asserts the rights of the state. “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (Rom 13:1). Without Laws of the state, life would be a chaos. State gives us the benefits of living a secure and civilized life. One who accepts the benefits which the state gives, cannot opt out of their responsibilities towards the state.
Render to God the things that are God’s- If the coin which had Caesar’s inscription on it is Caesar’s property, then we humans who have the image and spirit of God are God’s personal property. Our life is not to be lived according to our own will but according to the will of our Creator who owns us. Our bodies should be kept holy. “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”(1 Corinth 6:19-20). There is a sphere of life that belongs to God and not Caesar. Both state and human beings belongs to God and both exist because of God’s Grace. If there is any conflict, loyalty to God should always be first.
As Christians we are citizens of two worlds. Our faithful citizenship to the kingdom of God makes demands upon our citizenship in this world.
Gracious and loving heavenly Father, we thank You for creating us in Your image and for giving Your son to redeem our lives from destruction. Grant us a humble heart to live our life in submission to Your will. Amen.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
"Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good." (Titus 3:1)
Pradeep John, Mar Thoma Church, Bangalore
Christian Education Forum, Diocese of NAE of the Mar Thoma Church