March 15, 2023
Rev. Randy Booth
You’ve heard the story many times before. It’s the week before Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. His political and spiritual opponents are pushing hard against him. Then Jesus saw the strangest tag-team of all time. Pharisees had teamed up with Herodians to entangle Jesus, but they tried to present themselves so innocently.
The Pharisees and Herodians were two powerful groups in Jesus’ day but had very little in common. The Pharisees hated the Roman occupation, worked among the lower classes, and promoted discipleship through restrictive rules. The Herodians… not so much. Just their name indicated they were Jews supporting the family of the Roman ruler Herod.
Yet they team up to ask Jesus a trick question, “Is it lawful to pay taxes?” If Jesus says yes, the
Herodians are vindicated, and Jesus is seen as compromising with the oppressor. If he says no, then the Pharisees rejoice, but Jesus is seen as creating political unrest. They think it’s perfect: Jesus has to choose sides.
Jesus surprises them by asking for a coin. He asks, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?”
The people responded, “Caesar’s” shocked at Jesus’ obvious question. Then Jesus told them to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”
Instead of Jesus pleasing one group and offending the other, he actually pleased both. No, he
offended both by revealing each side’s idolatry.
Jesus more than answers their question about taxes.
The spoken part – whose image is on the coin? And everybody said Caesar’s. But there’s the
unspoken part – whose image are we made in? And everybody thought God’s. Jesus silently made everybody think of the story of Creation in Genesis 1:
God said “let us make human beings in our image, to be like ourselves…”
So God created human beings in his own image, in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:26 -27)
Look at our money. Whose image is on it? Political leaders and buildings in the Capitol. Look at
yourself and each other. Whose image do you see? It’s God’s. Not because of our eyes, ears, or nose. It’s definitely not our skin color, height or weight. The emphasis is that we’re made in God’s image because we know right from wrong, can make moral decisions, and can build things (to name a few).
That is stewardship. Money is made in the government’s image. We are made in God’s image. We belong to God, our Creator; we do not belong to created things. We are not made in money’s image, although there are many people who try.
In whose image do you want to increase? No matter your politics and how you vote, being more like Caesar, or our human government, is not our highest goal. We will not worship money, but we will worship God with money.
Mic drop moment for Jesus – the people are in awe and the tricksters are shut down.
Money is made in Caesar’s image;
whose image are you made in?
Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,
and to God the things that are God’s.