Whose Image?

Well since this is tax day and a familiar passage hit me during my pastor’s sermon with fresh insight yesterday involving a coin, it seems appropriate to share it.

And he saith unto them, “Whose is this image and superscription?”
Matthew 20:22 KJV

Some Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus with a trick question about whether or not it is right to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus wisely has them bring a coin (a denarius) and asks whose image is on it.

“Caesar’s,” they replied. “Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s”

The word “image” struck me yesterday. I usually read scripture in the NIV which says, “Whose portrait is this?”

The ESV says “likeness.
The Message says “This engraving–who does it look like?”
All of  these convey the same meaning and understanding.

Still, it’s funny how reading God’s word in different translations than we’ve grown accustomed to can be used by God to shed new light on familiar truths.

Because when I read this passage in the KJV and the word “image” stuck out to me, it made me think of Genesis.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Genesis 1:26-27 KJV

So the image on the coin represented Caesar…. give him what is due him {earthly ruler, earthly currency}

But as Jesus says next…”give God what is God’s.” We are his creation. We belong to him.

What is due God is summed up a few verses further down when Jesus answers yet another question meant to entangle him:  What is the greatest commandment in the Law?
(Matthew 22:36)

Jesus replied:  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (v 37)

We are made in his image — with a heart, soul, mind. Give God what is due him. All of us.


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