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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood


What Belongs to God

But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” And they were amazed at him. (Mark 12:15b-17, NIV)

The first “test” question, “What is the source of your authority?” had been put to Jesus by the chief priests and religious authorities (11:27–12:12). Jesus deftly parried their question and infuriated them.

Next came the Pharisees and Herodians with the question of taxes. These two groups were on opposite sides of the religious and political spectrum. The Pharisees resented the rule of Herod and the Romans, looking instead to the day when there would be no heathen occupation.

On the other hand the Herodians, a small, more secular group of Jewish people, were allied with the Herod family — whose interests were in lockstep with Roman occupation. The Herodians benefitted from the presence of Rome, so they had no problem with everyone paying taxes.

Jesus did not need a miracle of prescience to determine their motive in asking. They already had established opinions. They wanted to force Him to take sides.

Jesus asked for a denarius. He already had anticipated their question and was prepared with one of His own. Nothing takes Him by surprise. If you have worked out your theology of life, then you won’t be rocked when crisis comes. Jesus already had formulated the answers long before He was ever asked the question. What will we do when tough questions are thrown at us?

Like Jesus, we should be careful to assess whether a compliment (“you are a man of integrity” in v. 14) is genuine or should be taken with a grain of salt. And like Him, we should live every day with settled convictions so that when we are tested we can respond out of the reservoir of His Word and Spirit living in us.

Jesus asked them to bring to Him a common unit of currency, the denarius. Unlike the temple coinage called the shekel, the denarius was the occupier’s currency, and Pharisees were loath to use it because of the image of Caesar. But Jesus had a point to make.

He asked them an obvious question. He could have skipped the question altogether, held the coin up for all to see, and then just made His point: “This bears Caesar’s inscription and portrait.” But Jesus is a Master at forcing the opposition into a corner. He made them — especially the Pharisees — acknowledge the nature of the currency in circulation.

They had come intending to trap Him. Instead He was laying the trap for them. Never get into an argument with Jesus. He is much smarter than you!

The image on the coin was that of Caesar. Thus Jesus said, Give that to Caesar. Then He added, “Give to God what is God’s.” Ask yourself, “What belongs to God?” The answer is “You!”

The coin bore Caesar’s image. But we bear the image of God — created in His likeness.

We give to the government what is outside ourselves, the coin; but to God we give what is on our inside — our hearts.

We have a duty both to the government and to God. What we give to God is far more important than what we give to Caesar.

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, may I always bear Your image and likeness. Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

On Your Mark

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2013 On Your Mark

2012 On Your Mark

2011 On Your Mark

2010 On Your Mark

2009 On Your Mark

2008 On Your Mark

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