"'Whose image is this? And whose inscription?' 'Caesar’s,' they replied. Then Jesus said to them, 'Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.'" - Mark 12:16-17
People were finding out that Jesus aimed to teach the way of God rather than playing by the world’s rules. That led the Pharisees and Herodians to think they could trap Jesus. Their question about paying taxes seemed to give him only two choices: play by the world’s rules and ruin his reputation as a God-centered teacher, or reject the government’s taxes and give the appearance of leading a rebellion.
They just didn’t get it. And often neither do we.
When Jesus didn’t play by the world’s rules, it wasn’t because he despised them; it was because he had a higher purpose. Jesus wasn’t after Caesar’s money or kingdom or anything prized by the world. Jesus had a higher purpose—a loftier goal that made taxes seem trivial. Jesus was after what belonged to God because Jesus was God.
So the trick of the religious leaders became a perfect opportunity for Jesus to teach what he was really after. “Whose image is on the coin?” Jesus asks. If it has Caesar’s image on it, he said, give it to Caesar. What God wants is what has God’s image on it.
And what has God’s image? Where has God inscribed his name? On us.
God doesn’t want our money or stuff; he wants his children.
Dear Jesus, thank you for gathering us to your Father, our Father. Help us see that we belong to God, who wants us completely. Amen.