Matthew 22:15-22 (NRSV)
Verse 15Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. Verse 16So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Verse 17Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?" Verse 18But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, "Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Verse 19Show me the coin used for the tax." And they brought him a denarius. Verse 20Then he said to them, "Whose head is this, and whose title?" Verse 21They answered, "The emperor's." Then he said to them, "Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's." Verse 22When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.
“Show me the coin. Whose image is on it?” What a brilliant question our Lord gave in response to those who tried to trick and trap him about paying taxes! On the coin appeared the image of a temporary, earthly emperor. He was powerful, but only for a time. There is another, enduring, eternal image upon and within us, baptized and joined to the crucified and risen Jesus Christ forever. It is this: “Child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.” You are held daily by the One who forgives your every sin, who gives you daily sufficient grace and will bring you to the full joy and peace of the heavenly home. So, pay your fair share of taxes, be a good neighbor, and carry out the gift of life in Jesus’ name. “Whose image is upon and within you?” Thanks be to God, it is Jesus Christ, our Savior!
Heavenly Father, embrace our lives securely and give us grace to live fully as citizens of this world as well as of your eternal kingdom. In Jesus Name. Amen.