“Inscribed with the Image of God”
I. Render unto Caesar, the things that are Caesars.
The Pharisees were plotting against Him. So they sent out some loyalists to try and trick him with a question.
They asked Him, “Tell us, Jesus, is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
He answered them, “Show Me the coin! Let me see what you use for the payment of the tax.”
They brought our Lord a coin and He asked them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” Whose image is stamped into the precious metal? Whose name is inscribed on the coin?
They answered, “Caesar’s.”
Jesus answers their malicious question and then goes on to teach them more. First he says, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” All people, whether believers in the LORD God or unbelievers, are to give to the state the things belonging to those offices making up the fabric of society. God works for our good by establishing the offices and orders of family and the state. God has established that the family or the home to be the building block of a nations and cultures and societies – the place where children are to be educated, disciplined, and trained for life by the husband and wife who conceived them and brought them into this world.
“The ‘powers that be,’ that is the government, no matter how good or bad they may be, are also ordained by God; they are His way, His necessary way, to preserve humanity. Without the law and order and, to a large degree, the protection afforded by a government or a state, the human race would soon destroy itself there would be anarchy as each seeks his own way. We are to honor and support these basic structures of family and government because they are ordained by God for our good. “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s”
And perhaps you are saying to yourself, “No problem. I pay my taxes … federal, state, local, and property taxes … it might be as much as 25% of what I make goes just to pay my taxes. I don’t weasel out of jury duty. I obey the police officers when they stop me. I served in the armed forces, and I support the troops. When I really stop to think about it, I spend a lot of time and money in meeting my commitments to the state. I am a good citizen of the state. So, when Jesus said that we should render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, I have a clear conscience. I do that. I am a good citizen of the state.”
Well, maybe you are and maybe you’re not. God knows. That’s between you and God.
II. Render to God the things that are God’s
But let’s go on to the second part of Jesus answer – the part that follows the business about Caesar. “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
… to render unto God the things that are God’s.
At first blush, a you might think that, … “Well, I knew it was coming. Here’s the place where the pastor is going to make a pitch for increasing my offerings and tell me to get busy and do some volunteering of my time in the church.” And while that is always a good thing to be reminded of, this is NOT what Jesus is saying to us this morning
When Jesus says”[render] to God the things that are God’s” He answers the question with more than those who were plotting against Him were bargaining for. This is where Jesus teaches them, and you and me this morning, that the things of God are not primarily your time and money.
You recall that when Jesus was asked about paying taxes, He asked for a coin to be produced. It was and He asked, “Whose likeness and inscription is this? The coin bore the image, likeness, and inscription of Caesar.
What are the things of God that bear His image, likeness, and inscription? The coins in your pocket do not bear His image. The money in your wallet or purse does not have the likeness of the LORD on it. Neither the hours in your day nor the days in your life are inscribed with image of Christ. No, neither time nor possessions are primarily the things of God that Jesus is speaking about.
The things of God are those things that bear the image, likeness, and inscription of the LORD God Almighty. So what is it that Jesus is teaching us should be give to God? What bears His image and likeness?
III. Bearing the Image of God
In the very first chapter of the first book of the Bible, we read … Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Genesis 1:26-27).
My dear friends Man was made in the image and likeness of God.
At the Fall into sin our first parents lost the image of God and from the first child on, the children of Adam were born instead in his image and likeness—and that image and likeness have been declared by God to be sinful and unclean.
Yet as Christians, we are able to begin to bear the image of God … not because of who we are but because of what God has done for us and given to us …
We sing of that truth in the hymn, “Lift High the Cross,”
All newborn soldiers of the Crucified,
Bear on their brows the seal of Him Who died!
We were born in the image of the man of dust, yet we shall also bear the image of the Heavenly Man (1 Cor. 15:49) and we all … are being transformed into the same image (2 Cor. 3:18). In the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation, the Apostle John tells us of his vision of the Lamb of God Who has taken away the sin of the world, the Lamb who has redeemed you and called you by name; John shows us the triumphant Christ, the Son of God standing on Mount Zion and with Him …you… you standing in Paradise among the multitude each of whom has the Father’s Name written on their foreheads (Revelation 14:1).
You are the things of God. He has created you. He has, by Christ Jesus’ sin-atoning death and victorious resurrection, redeemed you and your fallen image. He has provided an accomplished salvation in which He desires you to be His own once again. By His grace, mercy, and love, you bear the image and the inscription of God. And while we are not yet standing in Paradise we stand here in anticipation of that joyful eternity. As the Apostle Paul wrote: Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved … For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15).
What a blessed truth this is, one for which we thank and praise God! Truly, as one of His own “you are not your own; [for] you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
IV. Confessing the image of God
The rendering to God “the things of God” also include our confession. We confess who we are and whose we are.
We confess to the LORD that He is our God and we confess that by grace we are given the strength and desire to fear, love and trust in Him above all things.
Our confession includes not only that we have transgressed His Law in thought, word and deed, by what we have done and left undone, but also that these sins He have been taken from us. All of our sins, whether of the past, the present and the future, do not belong to us. They belong to Jesus who took them all upon Himself two thousand years ago. He has removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).
Do you seek to have these things of God back? Do you want to take back the sins that Christ has taken to the cross of Calvary. Most certainly the answer is “no.” Rather the things of God includes our calling upon Him in every trouble, praying, praising and giving thanks to Him who has promised that He will remember our sin no more (Jeremiah 31:34).
On the day when Jesus spoke these words, a stunning, sobering event occurred. The Pharisees, who were physically in the church but spiritually outside the Kingdom of God, plotted against Jesus. The Bible tells us, when they heard Jesus’ answer, they marveled; and they left Him and went away. They didn’t like what they heard and so they left.
This is nothing new. Of dozens of LCMS congregations holding services this weekend, congregations whose members have pledged to remain steadfast in the confession of Christ and to be faithful members of the Body of Christ, fully 2/3 of those Lutherans are not in the Divine Service on any given weekend. So it is too with Emmaus. Yes, many have moved to the suburbs over the years, and many have moved into the mansions of heaven, but where are the rest? How many no longer come because of personal preference, or laziness, or indifference, or because it has become a habit NOT to come. How many have heard something that has made them uncomfortable—something that they didn’t like and left. These absent and lapsed members of Emmaus, of the Body of Christ need our care. If they cannot, will not come to the services at God’s house we must care for them, encourage them, and bring them back into the sheep-fold. If you know someone who is staying away from church on Sunday for any reason you and they need to know that the LORD God Almighty is not pleased. They are not here to hear that they, like you, are forgiven in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Again, you and I are the things of God. By His grace, mercy, and love, you bear the image and the inscription of God. Therefore, when Jesus says to render unto God the things of God, He is making talking to you—about you. The Holy Spirit teaches us this same truth through different words when the Apostle Paul writes:, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service (Romans 12:1).
The psalmist asks the question that is perhaps on your mind right now. What shall I render to the LORD for all His bounty to me? (Psalm 116:12). That question ought to occupy your mind every single day that you awaken from sleep … every morning that you experience that mini-resurrection. How do you respond to the fact that you are one of the things of God and that you belong to Him and that whether you live or whether you die, you belong to Him? What should you think, what should you say, and what should you do in response to God’s great redeeming love and mercy?
The Holy Spirit, declares to us what we should do.
What shall I render to the Lord
for all his benefits to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord,
I will pay my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.
Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his saints.
O Lord, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.
You have loosed my bonds.
I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call on the name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the Lord,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord! (Psalm 116:12-19)
“Inscribed with the Image of God”