Brad Libolt speaking on Mark 12:13-17. He spoke of how we were created in the image of God, and thus we should mirror and be a representation of him. He also spoke of how the fall caused the image of God to be broken, and how Jesus restored our image to become more like him.
13 And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. 14 And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?”
- Remember we are in Jerusalem, and there is a lot of conflict and tension around Jesus. We are leading up to his arrest and trial and crucifixion. Last week Matt talked about the Jewish leaders asking Jesus about his authority. This week we are going to see them ask about taxes, and for a few stories after this they are going to continue to question Jesus. Remember they don’t want Jesus to actually answer, they want to trap him. They are trying to find something to accuse him of, and what we are going to look at today is no different.
- They butter him up, and tell him they know he is true and doesn’t care about anyone’s opinion. They are saying be honest Jesus, we know you go against the grain. Jesus truly teaches the word of God and isn’t swayed by appearances, they are really trying to flatter Jesus just to get something out of him they can accuse him with.
- So after the flattery and lies, they ask their trap question. “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?”
- They want Jesus to say no, don’t pay them, because that would get the Romans on the Jews sides and make it easier for them to kill him. If they can get Jesus defying Caesar or the Roman empire, then the Roman state will want to get rid of him like the Jews do, and that process will become much easier.
- So they try to trap Jesus and get him to defy Rome. He has been talking about all this kingdom stuff, the Galileans who followed him into the city are calling him King, he is claiming to have authority from God to cleanse and purify the Temple, but the king is Caesar. The kingdom is Rome. So is Jesus’ kingdom facing off against Rome and Caesar?
- But Jesus is not fooled, look what he says.
15 But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” 16 And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” 17 Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.
- He calls them out immediately, “Why put me to the test?” Jesus isn’t going to play their games or fall into their trap.
- So he has them bring him a denarius, which would have been a Roman coin that was the equivalent of a day’s wage. So you work for a day, you get a denarius. And these coins had images of Caesar on it. So he asks who’s likeness is on it, and they reply that it is Caesar’s. Then he tells them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him, or were amazed by what he said.
- This is fascinating what Jesus is doing. He looks at the coin, and there is an image of Caesar on it. So, because it has Caesars image on it, he says go ahead and give it to Caesar. But give to God what is God’s. If Caesar’s stuff has his image on it, then God’s stuff has God’s image on it.
- What are we to give to God that has his image on it? Ourselves.
- Genesis 1 tells us that we were created in the image of God, in his likeness. So if we bear the image of God, then we are God’s, and owe ourselves to him. Go ahead and give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, what has his image on it, but give to God what has his image on it. And that is you and me.
- Now you have probably heard this before, this idea of the image of God. It is that Christian lingo that we throw around a lot. But I want to make sure we understand the importance and significance of this phrase.
- Being made in the image of God means were were created to mirror and represent him. Being made in the image of God affects both what we are, and what we do. It affects our form and function, our nature and purpose. When God created the heavens and the earth he put humans on it as mirrors of him, so that he would be glorified in all of creation. He put humans on the earth not just as mirrors, but as kings and queens who would rule creation with him. We were to rule and subdue the earth because we are the image of God. God is the ultimate king and ruler, and he appointed us to look like him and do what he does, he made us in his image.
- Now something happened when Adam and Eve sinned. Rather than submitting to God’s authority and rule, they wanted to take matters into their own hands.The result of this was being cast out of the presence of God, to be separated from him and die. But, and this is very important, even after the fall in Genesis 3, humans did not lose the image of God. In Genesis 9, after the flood, God gives the same commission to Noah and his sons. Be fruitful and multiply, rule and subdue the earth, and this is after the fall, this is within sinful humanity, then he says not to murder, and the reason for nor murdering is because man is made in the image of God.
- So after the fall the image of God is not lost, but it’s broken. We cannot be what we were created to be or do what we were created to do because we are not submitting to the ultimate king, the creator, to God.
- And this is one of the many things that God restores through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. He restores our image. He gives us his power, and we regain our position as kings and queens over God’s creation, spreading his image and his glory everywhere. We do this with his power, the Holy Spirit within us. And we do this by suffering.
- Jesus showed us how to rule. He showed us how to be a true human, what it means to be made in the image of God, by giving up his life. Jesus took our sin on the cross and bore the punishment for our transgressions so he could give us life and restore us back to God. We cannot fix our sinful state on our own, God had to rescue us from it. And he did so by sending his son to take our place and die the death we deserve, then rise from the dead and conquer the grave and evil and offer us new life as new Creations who can now be who we were created to be and do what we were created to do.
- Now this has major implications. Think about it. You were made in the image of God. That means, God was very involved in the making of you. God made you with a purpose, with love, and with great care. It means you are valued. So if you struggle with feeling good enough, feeling valued, feeling confident or secure in who you are, know, you have to know, that you are made in the image of God. He created you with care. He created you to mirror and represent him in his creation. That gives us great purpose, it gives us great hope, it gives us great security knowing that God knows us, he loves us, and he desires to restore us to what we were meant to be.
- But not only are you valued, so is everyone else. Remember, sin did not make us lose the image of God. It is broken, but not lost. So every human, Christian or not, is made in the image of God. And this gives others value, regardless of who they are. The reason human life is intrinsically valuable is because we are all made in God’s image. So this affects how we treat people greatly. We don’t bully others, make fun of them, talk bad behind their backs, have nasty thoughts about them. We don’t write them off, hurt them physically or emotionally. Instead we treat them with love, care, forgiveness, mercy, and compassion, just as God has treated us.
- Jesus showed us how to be truly human by giving his life up for us. If you are in Christ you are being transformed into his image, the image of God displayed perfectly. So now we too, as new Creations, as in Christ, we be Jesus to others. We lay our life down for them. We sacrifice for them. All to mirror God. All to represent him in this world. All to show people what it means to be human and what Jesus offers for them through his own sacrifice. We do this all to glorify God, what we were originally created to do.
- This is our purpose. If you are wondering what your purpose in life is, it is this: to image God to all of creation. To be a mirror of the character of God, to represent God to the world. And Jesus has shown us how to do this perfectly.
- So when Jesus says to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s, he is saying give your life to God. All that you are, all that you do, give that to God. It’s not about paying taxes, it’s not about the temporary things of this world. Those things are not our purpose. Our purpose is to be image bearers, representing God to the world, empowered by the Spirit and following the example of Jesus. Commit yourself to this. Dedicate your life to this. Give yourself to God and his will and his purposes.