Whose Image is on you?

Matthew 22:2-22

Jerry A Collins




v     Who calls the shots in your life?

v     What place of honor does God hold for you?

v     How are you giving to God what belongs to Him?


All of us have a biological image stamped within us. We all belong to a family from which we bear our physiological image. That image not only indicates who we belong to but also obligates us in ways we are not obligated to others. For instance, I work to place food on the table of this family. We will do some crazy things—both good and bad—because of the image we bear with each other. My dad’s motto for taking care of those bearing our physiological image was ‘we’re family’ and that meant we went out of our way to take care of one another even those distant relatives. But there is a larger issue to consider. One common to all of us not just the immediate family we are physiologically related too. But our relation to our creator of whom we all bear His image.  What does this demand of each of us? If we truly bear God’s image then what obligations do we have with this? This is especially complicated when we have to determine how to live responsibly as an image bearer of God and still have to live here where there is competition with that. Jesus is challenged with the obligations between our allegiance to the world and that of our God. Who should win? What should we do? How do we sort this out? One of those issues is taxation.


Deception      Religious leaders were setting a trap for Jesus with this question vs 15. What is interesting is that rivals came together in their opposition to Jesus. Notice the two groups were ‘the disciples of the pharisees’ and the ‘herodiansvs 16. The Pharisees are devout and traditional Jews. They were the first line of defense against any attempts to undermine the tradition of Moses. The Herodians were allies of King Herod the Great. Herod had been made king by the Romans so this group had more political aspirations toward Rome than religious toward Moses and thus the conflict. Allegiance to Rome fostered by the Herodians and others threatened the Laws and customs of Moses. However, Jesus is a bigger threat for now and warrants coming together setting differences aside. So the whole thing is suspicious to begin with.

Flattery      They make claims to Jesus that neither group believes at all. They tried some flattery to set up their case—You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth and defer to no one for you are not partial to any 17. No one could take this seriously since this group had opposed Jesus often. How could they believe Jesus would? They did say one thing truthfully—namely, that Jesus stood His ground with courage and conviction. Yet, they were lying because they did not believe a word of it.

Harm     Jesus perceived their malice vs 18 when the question was asked. This group was intent on doing Jesus real harm not just to His reputation, even to His life. Anything to ruin His credibility with the people and Rome. This tax was paid every year by every person. It was imposed on the Jews by the Romans. But the Jews thought God had given them the land so why should they pay tax to Caesar?  If Christ said to pay the tax they would accuse Him of being disloyal to the Jews and Moses—so the Pharisees. If He said to not pay it then He would be accused of disloyalty to Rome—so the Herodians. So they believed they could harm Him no matter how He answered. The question is a loaded one and designed to trap Jesus. The world will come at you with it’s deceptions and it’s flattery that will harm your obligation to God. The world can make it’s philosophy of life sound very appealing and flattery can effect those not discerning enough. Expect that the world will want to trip you up and try to minimize or marginalize you and your obligations to God especially if you are perceived as a threat to them because of it. World will always conclude that sin should not be judged. It’s scales are tolerance. That evil should be overlooked is the world’s idea. The world will not believe that sin has to be dealt with. Just negotiated and tolerated. So expect your obligations as an image bearer of God to God to be challenged.


Rebuke      Of course Jesus perceives their malice intent since He knows the heart of men 18. The idea is that He actually perceived their wicked intent not that He just knew they were hypocrites. We may have picked that much up ourselves just by listening to what they had to say. These guys have an agenda and it  was to  destroy  Jesus  at  all costs and any way they can. It did not matter if it was with the opinion of the people or the power in Rome. Jesus could have clearly annunciated God’s control of all governing authority and put them in their place. That one ought to obey God rather than men. But these instigators were not sincere with their approach and so did not warrant that kind of sincere answer.

Hypocrisy   So Jesus let’s the cat out of the bag and tells them He knows what they are up too and that they are all just a bunch of hypocrites—lying through their teeth. Their wicked scheme is obvious to Him. He then asks for a coin to set the stage for His rebuttal and eventually turning the whole thing on it’s head vs 19. It is interesting that Jesus did not have His own coin with Him.

Submission        Now Jesus asks them a question Whose likeness and inscription is this? Vs 20. It was Caesar’s of course we know that. But Kings would mint coins to show their authority over the people of that realm. So it would be Caesar’s money, inscription and authority. This coinage was offensive to the Jews because the emperor’s image on the coin was a reminder of their roman oppression. The Law of Moses taught they were not to make any graven images. Here was an image that obligated the Jew to acknowledge a ruler who also called himself god and this was repulsive to the Jew. Jesus gives a simple answer in vs 21 Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. It is one thing to give your money to Caesar but how can we know what things belong to God? We are the image of God which implies that we are to give our lives to Him. Money is earthly and a creation of human governments so give it to them. But we bear God’s image—spiritual life, understanding, conscience and capacity for moral and ethical decisions and creativity.

Our purpose to rule over the earth as God’s representatives. To do His will and represent that in this life.

That image has been ruined by sin but can be made useful to God again when that image is renewed and made alive born again as new creations in Christ. Now we have the responsibility to be conformed to the image of Jesus here on earth.

1. Dedicate yourself to God and surrender to Him. Present your life as a living sacrifice to Him. You belong to Him give yourself to Him.  

2. Then develop your capacities to represent Him well wherever you are—whatever you do. Make yourself useful to God. Don’t sideline yourself. Study the scriptures to do that.  

3. Remember to keep yourself available to God all the days of your life. Represent Him well. Give your life to Him—that is your mind, heart, capabilities, priorities, devotion. There is no limit to what God can accomplish through someone fully obligated.