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Then they sent to him some Pharisees and some Herodians to trap him in what he said. And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why are you putting me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me see it.” And they brought one. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Jesus said to them, “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were utterly amazed at him.
Affirmed and Challenged
After he took a coin, Jesus asked those who wanted to trap him whose face was on it. And when he heard them answer, “The emperor’s,” Jesus offered a response that, for us, may be both affirming and challenging. You see, when he said, “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s,” he was reminding them and us that we actually belong to the God because we bear his image. You see, even though it’s popular to believe that we determine whose we are and we have the power to give ourselves to God, his possession of us is grounded in something he’s given us. In a sense, we’ve been stamped by God, and this stamp we share will all humanity, whether they’re Christians or not. What’s more, it represents something we can’t lose. And in that truth we can feel affirmed.
But then, here is the challenge. As men and women who belong to God, how can we live out that identity? In other words, how can we demonstrate to others the one to whom we belong? And how can we reflect his imagine in our relationship to him and to others? You see, this is the challenge that all those stamped by God must face.