It intrigues me how Jesus revealed truth in unexpected situations. When some Pharisees and Herodians came to test him about paying taxes to Caesar, they hoped to discredit Jesus before the people or accuse him before the Romans. If Jesus said that they should pay their taxes, he would have been discredited before the people, but if he said they shouldn’t pay their taxes, then they could accuse him before the Romans, who collected the taxes. Jesus perceived their hypocrisy, so he asked for a Roman coin. He asked them whose image and inscription was on the coin; they responded Caesar’s. So Jesus told them to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, but he added that we are to give to God what is God’s. However, that raises another question for us.
What did Jesus mean, by saying give to God what is God’s? Jesus is not implying that we should give our money to God, although that is a good thing to do, rather Jesus is revealing to us something about images. In the creation account in Genesis chapter 1 we read “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Jesus used a question designed to entrap him regarding the paying of taxes and a Roman coin bearing Caesar’s image to remind us who we are. Since the coin bore Caesar’s image we are to give that to him, but since we, men and women, bear God’s own image, then we are to give our entire being to him. It is only in entrusting our very selves to God our Father that we can discover our true purpose and our true identity. At a later time, Jesus pointed out what Isaiah had declared, that the people honor God with their lips, but their hearts are far from him, concluding that the people worship God in vain. What does this mean? God wants the affections of our hearts and the actions that flow from that relationship.