Tuesday 15 March 2016

Bible Book:

“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.” (v. 17)

Mark 12:13-17 Tuesday 15 March 2016

Psalm: Psalm 57


In this passage, Jesus' interrogation at the hands of thereligious leaders continues (see yesterday's Word in Time). Here, a delegation is sent bythe Jewish leaders to 'trap' Jesus - to flatter him and then trickhim into advising his followers not to pay the poll tax, provinghim to be a rebel against Rome and providing the leaders with aconcrete charge to bring against him. But, yet again, Jesus' answersurprises and astounds.

Jesus asks to see a denarius, a small silver Roman coin whichbore the image of the emperor on one side and his mother on theother. The inscription read "Tiberias Caesar, Son of the DivineAugustus, Venerable Supreme High Priest". The Bible, on a number ofoccasions, paints Jesus as "our great high priest" (see Hebrews chapters 4-9) and it could easily beassumed that Jesus would forcefully reject the emperor's claim. Butinstead he instructs those awaiting his answer with baited breathto "Give the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to Godthe things that are God's".

This instruction has been interpreted in many ways. However, itis no great leap to move from the idea that the coins that bear theimage of the emperor belong to the emperor to the notion that thosethings that bear the image of God belong to God. There has beensignificant debate over the exact meaning of Genesis 1:26-27 and the stunning words "So Godcreated humankind in his image, in the image of God he createdthem; male and female he created them". Often, humanity chooses tofocus on our differences, and so finds it hard to understand howpeople of all genders, ethnicities and personalities can bear theimage of God. But it seems that there is some indelible stamp uponeach person, more lasting and powerful than the things of theworld, which marks us out as "the things that are God's".

To Ponder

  • What do you understand to be the meaning of 'made in the imageof God'?
  • How should we respond to government policies that seem, to us,to contradict our deeply-held morals and beliefs?

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