November 28, 2023 – Tuesday
Matthew 22:19-21 NKJV
19 Show Me the tax money.” So they brought Him a denarius. 20 And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” 21 They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
I had posted thoughts about verse 21 above on November 28, 2011, then in 2019, and again today as well. Thus, I find myself writing about it now for our Verses of the Day.
For context this begins back in verse 15 when the Pharisees sought to trap Jesus with His own words. So they sent out their disciples along with some Herodians to first sweet talk with great flattery Jesus, and then try to trap Him with a question they found enormously difficult. Here is how that went in verses 17-19, 17 Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? 19 Show Me the tax money.” So they brought Him a denarius.
How was this a trap? From a Jewish perspective, if He said taxes should be paid, then He would be accused of denying the sovereignty of God over Israel. Jews paid the taxes, but begrudgingly as many do today in our own country. However, if He said the taxes should not be paid, He would become an enemy of Rome. Either way they hoped He would be entangled with either the people or the law.
But He saw through the trap, and we have our verses for the day, 19 Show Me the tax money.” So they brought Him a denarius. 20 And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” 21 They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Guess how they reacted to His answer, verse 22, 22 When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.
And that ended that, except why and how did it end it? Verse 22 says they marveled, why? Because He had defined two separate spheres of authority, one for the temporal and one for the eternal for God. Before Jesus spoke the two were thought to be one and identical. Jesus presented something new where the state enforced obedience to its laws, and God left us free, and obedience is voluntary and not compelled.
But Jesus was going further than that for He knew those who had come to Him were familiar with at least the first four books of the Old Testament and especially Genesis. And in Genesis we find in 1:26-27, 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Thus, everyone has the image of God impressed upon them. This means that we all belong to God, not to Caesar, or not even to ourselves.
We are all made in God’s image. We are all God’s image bearers. And that continues into our children as Genesis 5:3 tells us, 3 And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.
Bottom Line: Jesus came so we could walk as His image bearers, putting on the cloak of Jesus and calling ourselves Christians. We can accept the truth of whose image we bear or reject it, but the truth remains.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Made in Your image, You sent Your Son so we could accept Your grace and truly walk as Your image bearers. Thank You for Your Grace. – In Jesus’ Name. Amen.