Devotional on Luke

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Luke 20: Give Caesar what is his and give God what is his.

It’s a pretty good “gotcha” question designed to get Jesus into trouble with either the Romans or with the devout Jews. The specific tax in question requires payment with a specific coin. That coin bears the image of Caesar. Pious Jews know what the Commandment says about “graven images.” They avoid such things, knowing they are sin. The Romans say they have to carry with them a coin for tax payment that bears, not only a graven image, but, specifically, the image of a conquering king who considers himself divine. If Jesus says he thinks they ought to pay taxes the pious Jews will have reason to accuse him of advocating the breaking of the Commandment. Of course, if he says otherwise, he’ll fall into the trap that’s being set for him, setting him up as an enemy of Rome, a troublemaker. The Romans know how to handle troublemakers. Jesus, though, calmly asks for one of the hated coins. Casually glancing at it he asks whose image it is engraved on the coin. Everyone knows it’s the image of Caesar. Then he hands the coin back, remarking that since its Caesar’s picture the coin is his anyway. If he wants it, give it to him. In God’s Kingdom, that coin is worthless. The “flip side” (pun intended) is that they’re to give to God what’s his. What is it that I’m to give to the Lord? I think the same test used on the coin helps me answer that question and the answer is given to us long before even the Ten Commandments are given. In the very first chapter of the Bible we find this: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him.” If I’m obligated to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s I’m also obligated to give to God what’s God’s. It may be marred and soiled, but I’m created in God’s image. My life is to be given to him.

Take Away: If a coin bearing Caesar’s image belongs to Caesar, then a human being created in God’s image belongs to the Lord.

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