And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. And when they were come, they say unto him,”Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give?”
But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, “Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it.” And they brought it. And he saith unto them, “Whose is this image and superscription?”
And they said unto him, “Caesar’s.”
And Jesus answering said unto them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marvelled at him. ~ Mark 12:13-17
- Image = Ownership, Title = Value
- The rolling coin gather’s no loss
- Must Melt Material for Molding
Image = Ownership, Title = Value
In the passage, Jesus is accosted by (Roman) government (the Herodians) and anti-government (the Pharisees) supporters. (Politics really does make strange bedfellows!) Working together they sought to trick Jesus into making an error so they could either (a) arrest Him or (b) make Him unpopular with the people. If Jesus said paying taxes was bad, the Herodians could have him arrested for treason. Conversely, if He said paying taxes was good, the Pharisees could paint Him as pro-Rome/anti-Jew, thereby making Him unpopular with the common people of Judea.
However, Jesus turned the tables on both groups, by pointing out the importance of image and title/superscription: He asked “Whose is this image and superscription?”. This question would naturally please the secular Herodians, but what Jesus was also asking the Pharisees (the religious leaders) and the others within earshot was, whose image and title/superscription is on YOU?!!?
Caesar’s image on the coin indicated it was owned by the Roman government; while the title/superscription on the coin showed its assigned value. The Roman government made the coins and setup the fiscal system, they were the earthly rulers of the day, therefore setting taxation rates (however onerous) was also their prerogative. If they wanted their money back, they could have it for citizens of the Kingdom of God didn’t need it! Only citizen’s of the world had to worry.
God’s image is on His children
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion… over all the earth… ~Genesis 1:26
…men, which are made after the similitude of God. ~James 3:9b
And God assigns our value
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: ~Psalm 8:4-6
On most forms of money (esp. modern), the value is determined solely by the image and superscription. The actual paper and ink used to make a US$1 note has about the same value as that used to make a CAN$1 note. The only difference between the two are the image(s) and title/superscription.
The images on the currency tell the ownership: US or CAN. The titles on the currency tell the value assigned by the owner. Likewise, our ownership and value are determined by whose image and title is on us. Sin removes God’s image and title from us and replaces it with the world’s image and valuation. But Salvation through Jesus Christ re-imprints God’s image on our lives and we are re-titled as Sons.
For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. ~Zechariah 3:9
And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: ~Colossians 3:10
Therefore, just like the coins/money belong to Caesar/government, the saved belong to God! Caesar can do whatever he wants with his money. By submitting to God, we afford Him the same privilege. God, unlike Caesar, does not force us to serve Him. God makes us in His image, but we have the choice to remain in that image or choose to reject His ownership and go our own way (self determination, rebellion).
God sets our worth, in His value system, at an extremely high price (it cost Him His son to buy us back). But we can choose to be valued on the world market, according to the world’s value system. The world only has Taxers and the Taxed, winners and losers, Jesus shows us another way, we can be part of a different group (Taxa): the saved.
The Rolling Coin Gathers no Loss.
The health of an economy is measured by the exchange of currency. The more currency being exchanged, the healthier the economy. We are the currency of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God thrives when we are in action, serving God, doing His will. The Kingdom of God stutters when we are stored away. Jesus puts it this way:
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. ~Matthew 5:13-16
To keep the Kingdom of God healthy believers must be actively traded: we must minister to the society around us. God used Jesus to purchase our salvation. God wants to use us to purchase the worlds attention. When light is shined into darkness everyone in the darkness notices and receives an opportunity to come to God.
Must Melt Material for Molding.
Caesar’s coins were made by heating up a metal till it melted and then pouring it into a mould in the shape of Caesar’s image. Likewise, God first melts us through trials and tests and tribulation. Then he pours us into a Christ-shaped mould that conforms us to the image of of His Son.
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. ~Romans 8:29
Our challenge is to allow Him to pour our lives into the mould of Christ and not conform ourselves to the world’s mould.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. ~Romans 12:1-2
- Whose image is on you?
- Who do other’s see when they look at your life?
- Who sets the value for your life?
- Does your value depend on your job? Your degrees? Your status?