“Whose image and inscription is this?” Mark 12:16

” Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”  Mark 12:17

” Let us make man in our own image…” Genesis 1:26

To start off with, Dictionary.com defines “render” among other things as:  to return; to make a payment as by a tenant to a superior or, to pay as due.

It is always so amazing to me, although it probably shouldn’t be coming from the King of Kings and God here on earth, how Jesus is able to take any and all situations and turn them into the most powerful teaching and learning situations.  Of course the Jewish leadership is trying to trap him.  So many times before they have laid out their traps and schemes and each time Jesus had outwitted them.  Now hopefully He was going to run afoul of either the Romans or His own people.  To pay taxes or not pay taxes was the question.  To say, don’t pay taxes would bring the wrath of the Romans down upon Him.  To say; yes, pay taxes, would have his own people turn against Him.  Finally they had Him trapped.

It seemed so easy for Jesus.  Bring me a coin, he requests.  Here, for me, is when the situation takes on a biblical proportion.  For you see Jesus uses a coin.  He uses something that down through the centuries will be something that becomes more and more central to everyday life, everyday thought.  He uses money.  He uses that thing which He knows was of singular importance back then and even more so today.  It is no longer just about taxes any more. The statement he makes is about all man-made institutions and human symbols.  So you see, we have those things that are wrought out of human initiatives, human desires, human processes.  All those things are represented by the coin which was given to Jesus.  Then you have those things which have been created by God Almighty, Our Heavenly Father.    You have those things which God has made, in His own image.

Jesus Christ makes it plain.  If you are dealing with things that are of human origin, things thought up in human minds, things made by human hands, then those are things solely (and souly) of the human realm.  While you might spend time thinking or doing things with those items, they are definitely of a lower status.

So what would be something of a higher status?  Something, in the case above, higher than the status of Caesar?  Well, that is why Jesus used the word image.  For, in all of creation, God said that there was one thing that He made that was in His own image:  man.  You see we were created in the image of God and God called that creation; very good.

So Dear Sisters and Brothers, we often find ourselves in the position or action of rendering; of paying to a superior or paying something that is due.  Jesus Christ is telling us that we should never find ourselves in a position where we are “rendering” ourselves, our lives to things of this world.  We should not look at our possessions, our jobs, our hobbies, even our relationships with our loved ones as being superior things.  All those things are developed by us for us.  We should not find ourselves being beholden to or bowing down to things which we have made or developed ourselves.

We have to be extremely careful that we don’t try to make our own image to match that of some earthly ideal; we should look this particular way, act this particular way.  We should never feel that we owe something to our work or our possessions.  To render ourselves, to give ourselves to those things is a sin that leads to our downfall and destruction.

We are made in the image of God.  That being the case, to render to Him whose image we are made in, we are to render ourselves to God Almighty.  That is to say, God is where our desire should be to return to.  It is to God that we should feel that our payment is owed.  And that payment is not in something like money, for that again is something of our creation.  No the payment is our life and that is to say how we live our lives.  Our rendering is living in love as we have been commanded to do; first to our Heavenly Father and after that to each other.  We should render praise to Our Heavenly Father and mercy and forgiveness to each other living in and by the image of He who created us.

You see that is why, in this country we place the inscription: In God We Trust, on our money.  For we are declaring that although money can be used, gained, spent and saved for so many things, we should never put our trust in it.  For money is of men and is not to be trusted.  Only one thing, one entity is worthy of our full and eternal trust; God Almighty.  Putting our trust in Him is the only safe to be sure, thing to do.

So we must ask ourselves; in whose image do we see ourselves?  Are we a maker of our own image?  Or are we made in the image of Our Loving Father?  The image of that answer makes all the difference in the world.  Find that today; you and I might find ourselves rendering ourselves, our very lives to the One, the Only One, by whom and in whom our image belongs.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, thank you for creating us in Your Image.  Thank you that of all the wondrous things You created, only we are made in Your image.  Forgive us when we look to the images of this world as things we should render service or payment to more than you.  Fill us with Your Spirit that we would see ourselves as creations of Yours, longing to live our lives in the love and praise to Your Most Holy Name.  We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen