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A couple of years ago, our pastor preached on Mark 12. While discussing vv. 13-17, he revealed to me a gem — one of those gems that was right there in front of me all along, yet one I’d never noticed before:
Then they sent to Him some of the Pharisees and the Herodians, to catch Him in His words. When they had come, they said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and care about no one; for You do not regard the person of men, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?”In contrast to the denarius, an ancient Roman coin which bore both the image and inscription of Caesar, Pastor Niell asked us, “Whose image and inscription do you bear?”
But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why do you test Me? Bring Me a denarius that I may see it.” So they brought it.
And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”
And Jesus answered and said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at Him.
Why, the image of Jehovah, and the inscription of the Triune God, I thought. It suddenly occurred to me that, while all men bear the image of God, it is His people alone who bear His inscription: the mark or seal of baptism.
Pretty basic stuff, yes? But something worth considering the next time Caesar claims the authority to conscript citizens to murder for him. (Which claim, I'm sorry to report, I expect to be revived in the very near future.)
And so, a quick note to you who happen to occupy the chair of former Presidents Lincoln and Roosevelt:
Jesus says you can have my pennies and dimes. But neither I nor my children belong to you. God gives you no authority to snatch us up, hand us a rifle, and compel us to violate the Sixth Commandment.
For “whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge” (Acts 4:19).