Whose likeness and inscription is this?

By Rev. Eric Brown

“Whose likeness and inscription is this?”

It was another attempt at trapping Jesus. Let's make Jesus talk about taxes in front the Herodians (who liked them) and all the rest of the Jewish folks in the temple who hated them. Either way, Jesus should upset people. But Jesus dodges – He asks them to show Him the coin used to pay the tax – and what do you know? There's a picture of Caesar and a bunch of Latin on it.

Now, Jesus might have hammered them for bringing the pagan money into the temple, or called them on their greed and love of money – but instead He simply gives the famous line: “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's.” The coin is Caesar's money – if you want to use it, you play by Caesar's rules, and when he wants some of it back in tax, you play ball. However, we are in the temple, and we ought to be thinking about the things that belong to God instead of Caesar.

So what belongs to God? Well, everything, I suppose – does that mean you are supposed to render all your stuff to God? Does this mean I get to give a “give until it hurts” fund raising stewardship sermon? Well, possibly, but our money doesn't have the likeness of God on it, nor the Word of God upon it (“in God we trust” isn't a quote from the bible, folks). But you do.

Consider: you were made in the image and likeness of God. Indeed, you have God's Word inscribed upon you – that's what your Baptism was. You received the Word of God upon you to mark you, to identify you as one who belongs to Christ Jesus. And Christ Jesus would have you be with Him for all eternity, so He came down from heaven and became man to win you forgiveness and life and salvation because you are His, not Satan's. It doesn't matter that Satan stole mankind away from God – that doesn't stop Jesus. See there, Satan – that's My image, that My Word – they belong to Me, and I will crush sin and death to have them back again.

You belong to Jesus, and He renders you back unto Himself. He purchases and wins you from all sin, not with silver or gold, not with a Denarius with Caesar's picture, but with His own precious blood. You are baptized; you belong to Jesus.

Rev. Eric Brown is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Herscher, Illinois and the co-host of the HT Gospeled Boldly Podcast.

Created: November 14th, 2017