Image & Belonging

Whose image and inscription are on it? 

Luke 20:21 – 26

21 So the spies questioned him: ‘Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 22 Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?’

23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24 ‘Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?’

‘Caesar’s,’ they replied.

25 He said to them, ‘Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.’

26 They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.

Cross,Jesus,God,Holy Spirit,Daily Devotion,Image

A couple of years ago, I went back to visit my hometown in the Snowies and visited the local library. It had been years since I lived in that town, and I didn’t recognise the new librarians working there. 

But as I was getting up to leave, one of the librarians came up to me with a stack of books and asked if I could take them home to my dad who had apparently placed them on hold. I was very confused: “Are you sure you have the right person? I don’t think I’ve met you before.” The librarian responded, “No, we haven’t met, but you’re Eric’s son, right? You look just like him so I assume you belong to his family.” It turns out she was right. As my father’s son, I share a strong resemblance – I bear his image – and it is obvious to onlookers that I must belong to his family.  

Whether it’s a family resemblance or an inscription on a coin, images often mark where something or someone belongs. When the spies ask Jesus this trick question to try and trap him, he flips the question around and puts them in their place. They ask him whether it’s right to pay taxes to Caesar, a question that has no correct answer as far as they’re concerned. I love how clever Jesus’ response is: asking “Whose image and inscription are on this coin?” then telling them, “give back to Caeasar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” 

I love how Jesus slams them with not only a clever answer to their question, but also a rebuke to devote themselves to God as a bonus slam. The “image” language is particularly meaningful; these religious leaders would have been familiar with Genesis 1 describing humanity as made in the image of God. Our created purpose is to bear God’s image in the world. When Jesus says to give to God what is God’s, he’s saying that we – who bear his image – are called to give our whole selves to him. You might pay a coin in taxes, but your whole life belongs to God.  

Head: What does Jesus’ response to this question tell you about what is important to God? 

Heart: Are there parts of your life that you feel are ‘off-limits’ from God, or aspects that you think belong to yourself? How does being made in God’s image change the way you think about those parts of your life? 

Hands: What will you give back to God today as an expression that your whole life belongs to him? 

Prayer: 

Dear God, 

Thank you for the privilege of bearing your image in this world. I sometimes feel like an insignificant human being, but being made in the image of a holy, loving God gives me such deep meaning and gratitude. Would you please help me to represent you faithfully, starting by giving all of my life to you and being generous with everything you have given me. Amen.

A song to listen to: In His Image (Nicky Chiswell) 

Matt Ventura 

Living Church City South