"Whose image is this?" (Mark 12:16).Did you know that the fictional comic book character Superman was co-created by a Canadian named Joe Shuster? I didn’t. So I was quite surprised last week when Canada honored Superman with seven coins engraved with a message “75 years of Superman” in Superman’s native language, Kryptonian. Each of the seven coins has a different image depicting different moments in Superman's history. The 14-karat gold coin sells for $750 and the other six coins have a price range from $29.75 to $129.75. An image or inscription sure has the ability to increase or decrease the value of a coin, don't they?
One day the religious leaders approached Jesus asking if it was right to pay taxes to Caesar. If Jesus had favored paying the tax, they would have used it to provoke opposition from the common people who hated Rome as they were burdened by their taxes. And if Jesus had condemned the taxes, the religious leaders would have charged him with treason against Rome. But Jesus knowing their hypocrisy said, ‘why are you trying to trap me?'(Mark 12:15). Then he asked for a coin. When they gave it to him, he asked whose image was on the coin and whose inscription. “Caesar’s,” they replied. Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” His words left the religious leaders speechless with their mouths wide open.
Imagine what Jesus would have said if the religious leaders had asked him, “What is God’s?” It’s obvious that He would have said, “Whose image is on you?” In other words, “You give yourself to God because you are created in His image.” The term “image of God” means in the likeness of God. In other words, it refers to humanity’s (not animals or other creation) reflection of God like characteristics.
Like Jesus’ day, the coins we use today bear images and inscription. And these images and inscriptions show us their value every time we come across them. In the same way, each person in this world has value, dignity, worth and purpose precisely because God created human beings in his own image (Genesis 1:27). In light of this truth let me ask you three questions.
First, do you see God’s image in your self? Our value is based neither on our looks, nor on our successes or failures. We are valuable because God’s stamp is on us.
Second, do you see God’s image in others? When we value others, we will be less inclined to be indifferent to their needs. We will hesitate to use others for our own personal gain. And we will think twice before we abuse or dehumanize people with our words and in our thoughts and actions.
Third, do you give to God what is God's? God created us in His image for Himself. Not because He needed us, but because He wanted to be in relationship with us (Acts 17:25). This awareness enables us to reject our self-centered lifestyle and surrender our lives to God in service to others.
May we see God's image in all people, including ourselves. May we give to God what rightfully belongs to Him.