Genesis 1:27 (NIV) So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Read Matthew 22:15-22 (NIV)
15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax[a] to Caesar or not?”
18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.
- Matthew 22:17 A special tax levied on subject peoples, not on Roman citizens
This past Sunday during Worship our church Pastor presented these words of Jesus in Matthew 22:15-22 to us in a way that I had never had it presented and it really struck me as peculiar that all these years because of the way the world thinks about money being so important that it is usually presented as being about money. This passage isn’t really about money at all…it is about belonging, or ownership! It is about who is your Master?
As it was explained on Sunday to us, Jesus was being acknowledged as a Rabbi by these people. We can read it right there in the text. It was expected that a Rabbi when asked a question was going to answer it….it was unavoidable…that is why we read that they were trying to trap him. I mean usually we would say, if he doesn’t answer then he can’t be trapped, right?!!! Well, being a Rabbi he was required to answer any question that was put to him.
A little background given here is that these Pharisees were Jews and they actually disliked Rome and wanted them gone, but they were also generally the wealthy class and liked the power that they had…they felt that Jesus was a threat to their way of life. The Herodians on the other hand were followers of Herod Antipas the son of Herod the Great. Herod Antipas and the Herodians all received their power from Rome, so they liked the Roman occupation of Israel. They also didn’t care for Jesus’ because they thought he was going to move in and become an earthly king in Israel. They thought he was a threat to their power also.
So in this instance, the Herodians and the Pharisees came together to try and get rid of Jesus by trapping him with his own words. It seemed that when you read the question that there is no way that Jesus could say anything that was not going to be against Rome or against the Jewish Law.
However, what comes out of Jesus’ mouth is to ask for a coin and say: “Whose image is on this coin?” The answer he receives is “Caesar’s”. So Jesus comes back with “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s!”
So we learn that since Caesar’s picture is on the coin that it originated with him, so he owns it! That coin was minted by Caesar and controlled by Caesar, if he wants some of it back, then he has a right to take it back in taxes! So that explains it from the money standpoint, but the other half of Jesus’ statement tells us what he is really meaning when he says to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is Gods.
I mean, look at this….God doesn’t print money, so it must not be talking about money, right?!
So the question becomes how to we give back to God what is God’s?
These are 4 things that my minster gave us as particular methods to give back to God (though there are certainly other additional methods also)
1.) When we worship Him (This causes us to move upward spiritually or to say it a bit differently we put our focus upon the Holiness of God)
2.) When we serve Him (This causes us to move outward spiritually, we put our focus on how we can do what God wants us to do with our lives and not on ourselves so much)
3.) When we are obedient, when we listen to the scriptures and give ourselves over to them even when it is not convenient or easy for us. (This moves us inward spiritually this is a real faith building thing because it allows us to learn to trust God by our obedience)
4.) When we devote ourselves to become more like Jesus. (This moves us onward spiritually and we have a closer very personal relationship with God and with others around us…it also has the very definite effect of allowing us to have the peace in our hearts that Jesus spoke of…the one that passes all understanding)
Being a Christian is about a journey not about being static and unmoving. Jesus says to follow him by following his teaching. If you are not moving you are probably not following, this means that your Christian walk has stalled. When you are on a journey in order to get to the destination you have to keep moving forward. Jesus wants us to follow him so that we can keep moving forward and closer to God…so that we can become mature in Christ.
Colossians 1:28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.
As we continue and become more mature Christians we give back to God more and more of what he created….those made in his image…ourselves!
So….Christians…get a move on…continue your journey…give to God what is God’s!