2. Made in God’s Image: Whose Are We?

2. Made in God’s Image: Whose Are We?

2. Made in God’s Image: Whose Are We? 

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness… So God made man; in the image of God He made him; male and female He made them.” (Gen. 1:26-27). 

“Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, ‘Teacher, we know that You are an honest man of integrity and you teach us the truth of God’s ways. We can clearly see that you’re not one wh0 speaks only to win the people’s favor, because you speak the truth without regard to the consequences. Tell us, therefore, what do you think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?’ But Jesus perceived the malice that was hidden behind their cunning ploy, and said, ‘Why do you test Me, you hypocrites, you imposters? Show me the tax money.’ So they brought Him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, ‘Whose image and inscription is this?’ They said to Him, ‘Caesar’s.’ And He said to them, ‘Give therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.”  (Matthew 22:17-22).

An important aspect of being image-bearers is the matter of ownership. We carry God’s imprint. We bear His brand, His identifying mark that means that we are not our own. Every person belongs to God. We are rightfully His. God in Christ is our ultimate authority, because we are engraved in His image. We all owe our allegiance to the Holy Trinity, in whose likeness we are made, in whose image we exist. This would be a good time for an object lesson…

Object: A denarius, the Roman coin stamped with Caesar’s image. One denarius is worth a day’s wage. The Jews were required to pay an annual census tax to Rome, a tax of one denarius. Some of the tax went to pay for pagan temples and the unholy lifestyles of the Roman aristocracy. The Pharisees were bitterly opposed to the tax, because they didn’t consider Caesar their king. Only God was their king. The Herodians were Roman sympathizers, so they fully supported the tax.

Lesson: Knowing He was being trapped by the unlikely coalition of Pharisees and Herodians, Jesus asked for a Roman coin. It was time for an object lesson. They asked Him if Jews were supposed to pay the Roman tax. If He answered yes, He would be in trouble with the Jews who were opposed to Roman occupation. If He answered no, He could be thrown into jail for rebellion against the authority of Rome. He took the coin, pointed to it, and, like He did often, responded to a question with another question… “Whose image is on this coin?” Obviously, it was Caesar’s image on the coin. ‘So give to Caesar the things that are due Caesar, and to God the things that are due God.” In other words, it’s a question of ownership. Caesar should receive what is rightfully his, and God should receive what is rightfully His. If we are to pay taxes to Rome for government benefits and services, then do so. After all, that is Caesar’s image on the coin. But we owe ultimate allegiance and loyalty to God, because we are imprinted with God’s image. Because we are stamped with God’s image, God has overriding authority in our lives. If Caesar is due loyalty to a certain extent, then pay. We already know God is due our supreme commitment, so we owe Him that. We are ultimately obligated to God, for we carry His image. That wasn’t the answer either group was expecting, so they marveled at how Jesus outthought them once again. And they went their way amazed at His words.