I’m not sure about you, but there have been times in my life when I acted as if I was more righteous than I was. As we see in Luke 20, God sees right though our false righteousness and into the depths of our own hearts.
In Luke 20, scribes and pharisees sent spies who pretended to be righteous to trick Jesus, catching him in what he said so that they could hand him over to the governor’s rule and authority (i.e., the Romans). So, the spies ask Jesus, “Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
As usual, Jesus “detects” their craftiness and tells them to show him a denarius, which is a coin that represented a day’s wage.
Jesus asks them, “whose image and inscription is on this?”
“Well then, give to Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and give to God that which is God’s” (Luke 20:20-26).
Many times, people read this and make it out to be a passage about paying taxes or fees to the government. In one sense, it is. However, we can use other places in Scripture that teach that idea, such as Romans 13 or 1 Peter 2, but I think something else is going on here in Luke 20.
Look closely as what Jesus refers to in his question: “Whose image and inscription is on this?” The image has Jesus’ focus here. How do we know that?
Because the answer as to whose image is on the coin is what decides who the coin belongs to. In other words, since the coin had Caesar’s image on it, it would be given to Caesar. Therefore, there’s one question I think Jesus wants us to ask ourselves.
Where is God’s image?
The answer? Everywhere.
God’s image is evident through the creativity of his creation: arts, music, dancing, nature, singing, theatre, writing, and so on. However, the image of God is most importantly stamped on us.
So, what is Jesus saying? Give everything to God because all things have God’s image on them in one way or another. We must remember God made the world and things in the world good. Sin is what distorts it. By putting them in their proper place, they can be used in the context they were intended to be used, and they can ultimately be given to God because they point to him as the creator and sustainer of all life.
For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, since it is sanctified by the word of God and by prayer. 1 Timothy 4:4-5