Tax Day!!! At 10:29 P.M. I finished my taxes! Cutting it close? Many of my friends would agree with you and join in asking me what I was thinking putting it off so long! Honestly? I don’t like paying taxes. SURPRISE!!! And I am a recovering procrastination addict.
As taxes came to a close I was thinking about what I could write about and I remembered a really cool sermon I heard while at a college camp not a month ago. So here we go! The passage we will be reading is Matthew 22:15-22
Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money.” So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”
And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way. Matthew 22:15-22
So what is the point of all this? It seems fairly straight forward. However something caught my attention. When the Pharisees approached Jesus they said, “We know you are true, you teach the Way of God in truth, nor do you care about anyone, for you do not regard the person of men.” WHAT?? Sounds like an insult hidden behind a seemingly respectful approach. “Well you tell the truth, and you don’t care about anyone.” WOW!
So I started doing a little digging. I went on BlueLetterBible.com to use their tools. They have this cool feature where you can look up the original Greek and Hebrew used and what it meant in the original language. So the word the Pharisees used for the “Person” of men in Greek is “prosōpon” Pronounced (pro’-sō-pon). This word references the “face of man”, or a man’s “countenance”, or (and this is my favorite translation) the appearance one presents by his wealth or property, his rank or low condition.
So basically the Pharisees are saying, “We know you don’t care how a man presents himself but that you teach the Truth so we have a question for you.”
So, moving on from word study, the story continues and they ask Jesus whether they should pay taxes or not (Please say no, please say no!) and Jesus responds, first by calling them out on their hypocrisy but then by addressing their question.. He asks them whose image or likeness is on the coinage and He then states simply, “Give unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and that which to God that belongs to God.”
So, growing up a classic pew-warming American “Christian”, I have always taken this as kind of a bummer response. I grumpily respond, “Okay God i’ll pay my taxes.” Wishing Jesus had been leading a governmental rebellion that would justify me not having to struggle, last minute (Self inflicted), to figure out my past year’s financial history. But I missed the whole point!
Jesus first asks whose image or likeness is on the coin. Then He continues to say that because of that image the coinage belonged to the one whose image it bore. Here is beautiful connection Jesus seems to be making for those who catch it. In Genesis 1:26a God says, “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;”
We are image bearers . We as human beings bear the image of the Creator of the universe! And you know what that means? We belong to Him! And Here Christ clearly says, “Give God that which is God’s.” We belong to Him. We bear HIS image. And what a beautiful image it is!
So this tax day as you return to the government what belongs to the government remember to give to God that which belongs to God. Day by day, moment by moment. Give God your all, cause God gave His all to us. A beautiful gift and and an awesome image.
Happy Tax Day!
Just a COG