The Pharisees and Herodians are a slimy lot.
At the behest of the religious authorities they feign respect for Jesus, butter him up and try to draw him dangerously into taking sides on a hot button issue.
Either way, his answer on whether pious Jews should pay taxes to their Roman oppressors will help his enemies orchestrate Jesus’ demise.
Jesus may be meek, but he is no fool. His answer “took them completely by surprise”.
He called their bluff, he exposed their shallowness, and he challenged them to engage with an issue with far weightier consequences.
“Whose image is on this coin?”
“Caesar’s” they replied
“Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God”
The unspoken question in this interchange is “whose image is imprinted on you?” (Gen 1:27)
Elsewhere in the Gospels, Jesus adjures his disciples: “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” 10:28
As Christians we must engage meaningfully with the issues of our day but we mustn’t forget that our very lives belong to God.
It is to God, not human beings, that we will eventually give an account of how we have spent the coin of our life, our gifts and our opportunities during our brief sojourn on this earth.
Holy Spirit, help us never to lose sight of who we are and where are going.