Saturday, September 18, 2010

Images and Idols

Mark 12:13-17  And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk.  (14)  And they came and said to him, "Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone's opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?"  (15)  But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, "Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it."  (16)  And they brought one. And he said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" They said to him, "Caesar's."  (17)  Jesus said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they marveled at him.

Genesis 1:27  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

I was reading this passage in Mark and turning it over in my mind this morning.  Having recently been thinking about humans being made in the image of God, a slightly different angle occurred to me which I had never considered.  

One other piece of information is required to put everything together that occurred to me:  Some of the Caesars claimed divinity and worship as gods.  I don’t know precisely the extent of this, or how much they expected worship, but it is very clear that there was something divinely attributed to the man who held the title.  This came about either by sinful pride and arrogance from one of the early Roman leaders himself, or from followers who sought to make him more than he was.

Now, back to the passage at hand, and Jesus is asking who’s likeness (image) is on the coin.  Of course it is Caesar’s image.  Compare this to us, being the image of God.  We have on the one hand, the True God and His image, and on the other hand, a false god and his image on a coin.  

Taking this information in the light of Jesus’ statement, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." we can take the view that everything that is made in the image of Caesar can be given to him, money and all material possessions that might be symbolised by profit and prosperity, but everything that is really important, i.e. the person himself, the image of God, can be given to God.

Mere possessions and money are nothing, so let Caesar have them if he wants them.  These things are merely a reflection of Caesar himself: empty, false sources of happiness, the love of which is eternally perishing, claiming to be of more importance than they really are.

Again, on the other hand, the things that are made in God’s image, let those be given to God, let us be rendered to God.  Not caring for the things of this world, may we devote our lives to Him, eternally, and joyfully!