Text: Matthew 22:15-22
For eyes to see the image of God in others
For a heart that is given over to God
For those who work in local government
WHOSE IMAGE IS THIS? WHOSE WORD? Jesus, holding the shiny coin, asks his accusers to identify the picture and the inscription upon it.
The Roman denarius circulating during this time would most likely have had a picture of Tiberius on the face side, and on the tail side the phrase “Tiberius, Son of the Divine Augustus, High Priest” in Latin. What the coin is declaring is that Tiberius is the son of a god and serves as the chief priest of the pagan Roman religion. At bottom, Jesus ably reveals his adversaries’ hypocrisy, for they are carrying these coins announcing a foreign god and his priest on the sacred ground of the Temple.
But we should not miss Jesus’ larger point here. What belongs to God? On what is his image? Where is his word found? For Christians, the answer to those questions should be obvious—we are the bearers of God’s image, we are the bearers of God’s holy word. We belong to God just as surely as those paltry coins belonged to the man who had them minted. We belong to God—as does Caesar, and every priest, and every religious authority, and every tax collector, and every face in the crowd. God is not thwarted but will have his own.
The day came when Tiberius died. The son of the exalted Augustus, the high priest of a solemn religion still lies buried; unless you have more than a passing interest in history, you probably don’t mention his name or think about him much.
The day also came when the Son of God died. And he got up in glory and entered into the heavenly places as our great high priest. There he presents those who bear his name and likeness to his Father and intercedes on their behalf. Remember to whom you belong.
May your day be grace-filled ~ Pr. Dave Brooks