Mark 12:13-17, Genesis 1:27, 2 Corinthians 5:20

David Hellyer on the responsibility of bearing Christ's image.

David Hellyer
David Hellyer

I like cash. It's not that I am trying to be flash, I'm happy to admit I don't have loads of money. It's more to do with the tangibility of it. I prefer to spend 'real money' than buy things on a card. I think it helps me be more conscious of when and where I spend money, so I don't overspend. I'm the kind of person who almost always has a few coins in their pocket. It's never much, in fact as I write this I have the princely sum of 1.25 in my pocket.

Money can be one of those touchy subjects, people don't mind talking about it, as long as it's in abstractions. We'll happily talk about how much footballers or politicians earn. Perhaps we'll even debate the morality of big bonuses paid to business leaders, but there's no chance I'd tell you how much I earn. Funny isn't it? It seems 'twas ever thus, money was certainly a touchy subject 2,000 years ago.

In Mark 12:13-17 some Pharisees and supporters of Herod tried to trap Jesus into saying something incriminating so they could arrest Him. First they flatter Jesus, complimenting Him on His impartiality and that He teaches the way of God truthfully. Then they go on to ask if taxes should be paid to Caesar or not. They ask the money question. Jesus is supposed to find Himself in the centre of a no-win situation here as His questioners represent both the Jewish and Roman authorities. If He sides with the Roman authorities (who were an occupying force) the locals would understandably object. But if He sides with the Jewish leaders and says not to pay the taxes to the Roman occupiers, he would most certainly get arrested.

So how does Jesus respond? Famously He sees right through the trap and asks to see a coin. Jesus asks whose face is on the coin. Of course the answer is Caesar, so Jesus goes on to tell the crowd to "Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God."

His reply completely amazed them! Jesus' response still packs a punch today. Have I given to God the thing which has God's image stamped on it? Genesis 1:27 tells me that I have God's image stamped on me, and so do you. Just like those coins should be given to Caesar, the one whose image is on them. So too should we be fully given to God whose image is on us.

As modern folks with contactless bank cards, it may strike us as narcissistic or outdated that Caesar had his head stamped on all the coinage back in Roman times. But I live in the UK where this practice is very much alive and well! The Queen's head is on every coin, banknote and postage stamp. Her image is imprinted on all these valuable items. I have three images of the Queen in my pocket as I write, three coins (1, 20p and 5p).

The coins in my pocket today are not themselves the Queen of England, but they do remind me that she is on the throne. We are like those coins, carriers of an image wherever we go. However we point to a higher authority, a higher power.

In the words of 2 Corinthians 5:20, "We are Christ's ambassadors," so whatever you do today remember that you are representing the Most High, and allow God to make His appeal through you. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.