Friday, June 19, 2015

Whose image will they see?

The Following commentary was about the incident described in Luke 22: 20 – 26 as told in the book of Matthew.  I hope it is helpful.

Whose image will they see?

In the past people most transactions were bartering.  I'll give you 4 of these for 6 of those.  But now most transactions are done with money.  Most countries today have their own currency, or money; although, many countries in Europe have a common currency.   Typically, money has two ways of existing: one is through electronic transaction, i.e credit cards, debit cards, etc.  The other way – the old way - is by using paper or coins.  Paper and money have distinct ways of identifying them.  Yes, most countries have different size, shape and color paper and coin money.  But, also within the country, the money whether paper or coins have their distinct identifying marks. 

Here in the United States there are different amount denominations for both paper and coins.  Our paper currency is all the same shape, size, color, and similar design; they have different images drawn into them.  For the connoisseur, looking at the image can tell them the denomination of the paper bill.  All images however, tend to be of important characters of American history, such as dead presidents.  The coins also are distinct.  They have the same shape, but different sizes and different colors on some cases.  Also, like their paper counterpart, the also have different images.  Each respective size is a respective denomination.  In some coins, however, the image can tell you the year they were minted.  With all the differences in the coins, there is no way of mistaking it for the currency of another nation.  Anyone that sees it can identify it as American money.   The coin and paper represent a value of money that is yours as long as it is in your possession.  However, the coin and paper themselves are owned by the United States Government (Some would argue this point). 

This fact of someone owning the coins is not new.  Even in Roman days, the emperor owned the coins.  No one could doubt that, the image of Caesar – the Roman Emperor – was on the coin.  We know this from sources such as History or archeology.   The Bible also tells us about the image of Caesar in the Roman coins.  Let us read the account,

Matthew 22: 15 Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.
Matthew 22: 16 And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.
Matthew 22: 17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?
Matthew 22: 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?
Matthew 22: 19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.
Matthew 22: 20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?
Matthew 22: 21 They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.
Matthew 22: 22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.

Before this incident Christ had exposed the hypocrisy of the.  So, they sought revenge.   They thought that about trapping Jesus to make Him look bad, even criminal.  They counseled with the Herodians - their bitter enemies who now had their enmity to Christ in common.  The idea was that if Christ said it was legal to pay taxes, then He would be against God's word according to the Pharisees.  But, if Christ said that it was not legal, then they could accuse Him to the Roman authorities.  Their plan failed.  Ellen White says about Christ's reply,

Christ's reply was no evasion, but a candid answer to the question. Holding in His hand the Roman coin, upon which were stamped the name and image of Caesar, He declared that since they were living under the protection of the Roman power, they should render to that power the support it claimed, so long as this did not conflict with a higher duty. But while peaceably subject to the laws of the land, they should at all times give their first allegiance to God. {DA 602.4} 

A Christian writer wrote, 'Give your money to Caesar; it has his image on it, and thus it belongs to him. But give yourselves to God. You bear his image, and you belong to him.'  With this in mind, we see that in verse 22 Christ asked whose image and superscription was on the coin.  They all replied Caesar's.  So, it was evident that the coin belonged to Caesar.  Can people by looking at us say, "You have God's image and superscription on you, you belong to Him?"  To see ourselves as coins is not that big of a stretch.  Christ used a coin to describe us in the parable of the lost coin (Luke 15: 8-10).  If Christ were to hold us up as He did the coin, and asks the crowd, "Whose image and superscription do you see?, What would the crowd answer, "Your own (Christ's) or Caesars."     Christ said to the disciples that others will know that you are my disciples by your love for one another (John 13:35).  Can others say that about us?  Our character is the image and superscription that tells others who do we belong to.  What will it say about us?