Giving money to the government. It’s not a fun subject. Most people think we pay too much in taxes.
Imagine how it would be if the we were living in a country that wasn’t ours. This was the situation for the Jews in the New Testament. Though they lived in their own land, they paid taxes to Rome and to Caesar. How frustrating that would be!
Jesus had been stirring the pot for a while and the religious leaders were starting to get fed up with him, so they sought a way to catch him in his words. They came to Jesus and said, “Hey, we know you’re a good guy, great moral character, and that we can trust what you say. Should we pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
Jesus says, “Whose image is on this coin?”
“Caesar’s,” they answer.
“Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.”
A bit of a cryptic answer, no? Keep in mind that Jesus is talking to religious leaders in this story. Jesus asks them about whose image is on the coin. Image. What other religious stories would the religious leaders have known that include the idea of “image”? It’s the very beginning of the Story, right? Creation. God creates all that is, and says that it is good. But then God creates humans, in his own Image, and says that it is very good. This is the link that is implicit in the text that Jesus doesn’t make explicitly clear.
“This coin has Caesar’s image on it,” Jesus says, “So give it to Caesar. But you yourselves have God’s image on you. Give your lives, your heart, your very selves to God.”
We are made in God’s image. We belong to God, if only we would give ourselves to him.