“They brought a coin. ‘Whose image and inscription is this?’ he asked them.” – Mark 12:16 CSB
Several years ago I decided to look for a replica denarius similar to the one Jesus asks for in this passage because I found myself returning to this passage often. The denarius Jesus held here is one that bears the image of Caesar Tiberius, who began reigning in 14 AD.
One of the inscriptions on that coin says, “Son of the Divine Augustus.” Caesar was the son of a god. So, for those familiar with the coin, there is more going on in this passage than it may first appear.
Jesus, as he so often does in response to a challenge, asks a righteous trick question. “Whose image and whose inscription is this?” Answer, “Caesar’s.” His response, “Then render unto Caesar’s what is Caesar’s and God’s that which is God’s.”
Whose image and inscription do we bear? Hopefully we know the answer is that every last one us was made wonderfully and fearfully in the Image of God (Gen. 1:26 – 27, Psalm 139:14). Therefore, we are to give our whole selves to God, just as we are to give inscribed coinage to those who tax us.
For the Christian, there is more. For we are not only made in the image of God, but we are being remade into the image of the Son of God (Rom. 8:29, 2 Cor. 3:18). Ask any numismatist (coin collector): a double strike coin is one of the most valuable collectibles! May we live this day as those made in the image of God and remade in the image of the Son of God.
“Father, help me to value your image in myself and in others. Please continue to work in me to make me look more like your Son, Jesus, today than yesterday.”
John Blackmon serves as pastor of Meansville Baptist Church.