Then they sent to Jesus 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 emperior, 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.
(New Revised Standard Version)
The Temple authorities have set a trap for Jesus, if he says "Yes we should pay tax to the emperor," he will upset all those Jews who believe that only Temple tax is obligatory. On the other hand if he says "No, we shouldn't pay tax to the emperor," then he could be accused of treason. They think they have him trapped!
The denarius was about a day's wage, and it had on one side the image of the emperor. Jesus seems to be reminding his listeners of a verse from scripture, that they know perfectly well, from Genesis, Chapter 1.26-27. Coins bear the image of the Emperor. We are made in the image of God! How might that thought affect the way we live our lives?
You taught us
that we are God's children,
that He is our Father
and that we are born in His image.
Remind us each of our heritage,
and teach us to live as God's children..