Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s (Matthew 22:21).
One of the things that many of us may not appreciate sufficiently is Jesus’ mind. His toughness and his tenderness are readily apparent in the Gospels, but that Jesus is just flat smart is perhaps underappreciated.
The Gospel lesson for this week is a good example. Jesus is asked a very clever question, one intended to trap him. Presented with a coin, he is asked “should we pay taxes?” A “yes” gets Jesus in trouble with the Jews, for why should they pay taxes to a heathen ruler occupying their land? A “no” gets him in trouble with Caesar. So Jesus evades the question, but in a manner that communicates exactly what his questioners need to hear. “Whose image is on the coin?” The implication is clear—give to Caesar what is in the image of Caesar, and to God what is in the image of God. And they would know what that is—themselves. Man alone is created in the image of God. Are they giving themselves to God? This is precisely the question they need to hear. If they are not giving themselves to God, then questions about taxes are ultimately irrelevant. No wonder they were amazed at his teaching.
There is a corollary we do well to attend to. Those made in the image of God are God’s. This is true whether His image is an unborn child only weeks old, a girl severely handicapped with cerebral palsy, or an elderly woman struggling with dementia. To harm or destroy one made in God’s image is a direct attack upon God Himself.