1 March 2019

Hello and welcome to Friday’s podcast. I hope you have had a good week and got out what you have put in when joining us this week. This is my last day before I hand on to Mick next week.


Today’s reading is from Luke 20:20-47 but today I am going to focus on v22-25.

Jesus has just spoken a powerful parable against the teachers of the law, and the chief priests knew it. So they got together to discuss how they could catch Jesus in his words. They appointed spies and sent them amongst the crowds to try and trap Jesus. The best minds devised a cunning plan. V22…

“Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?’

He saw through their duplicity and said to them, ‘Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?’

‘Caesar’s,’ they replied.

He said to them, ‘Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.’

This is political dynamite! Will Jesus side with the occupying power, the Romans, or will he side with the people who cling to his every word? Either way Jesus has lost. If he sides with Rome, the people will turn their backs on him, he would in effect declare himself not the Christ… not God’s anointed king. If he sides with the people then the teachers of the law and chief priests can go to Caesar and have him killed.

“Whose image and inscription are on the coins you carry?” Jesus asks.

Er… Caesar’s!?

“Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s!”

Woah! This answer doesn’t just get Jesus out of a tight scrape, there is so much more to his words.

Whose image and inscription?

Image – this isn’t just a pretty picture… the word used here is Eikon. This isn’t about a shape or form but rather about substance.

I am dad to three kids. The eldest, when he was born, was described by lots of people as a ginger version of me. He looked just like me, only with a red glow about his head. Now as he has grown up not only does he continue to look like me – just a lot more handsome! – but he also carries other Ward traits. His sense of humour, his mannerisms and his turn of phrase. And if he is fortunate to have kids one day, I am sure that he will hear himself say to his kids words and phrases that we have said to him. He is my boy, he bears my image – poor chap!!

Eikon is the same word used in Colossians 1:15 where Jesus is described as the image of the invisible God. It’s not that Jesus looks like God but he carries the same family characteristics, he is cut from the same cloth. And in the book of Hebrews Jesus is described as ‘the exact representation of [God’s] being.’

It’s this likeness, this image that we are being transformed into. Romans 8:29 says that we are being conformed to the image of his son. Back in the garden of Eden, human beings were created male and female in the image of God. Through sin and rebellion, that image was broken and fractured… but now, through Jesus – his death, resurrection and the sending of the Holy Spirit – we are being remade, the fractured parts of his image are being assembled and restored… the unsightly bits are being brought into the light and healed, transformed. His image is starting to shine more brightly in our lives.

Next up is the inscription… whose image and inscription are on the coin?

An inscription is just that, an inscription, a word or a phrase, a title or a label that marks the coin…

On the coin, the image is Caesar’s, the label is Caesar’s…

But what about you?

Whose image do you bear… God’s. They were known as God’s people and yet here they were opposing him at every turn…

Whose label to you bear…?

There was an inscription – the same word – a label, placed above Jesus on the cross. The label was written in three languages, Greek, Hebrew and Latin. It read, ‘King of the Jews.’

The leaders and teachers of the Law were furious… “write that he ‘claimed’ to be king of the Jews,” they demanded.

You see, the label that we carry matters. Especially the label that we are given by those in authority, our parents, our leaders, the government. Brand a child ‘lazy’ or ‘trouble’ and they won’t let you down!! The labels that are spoken over us are powerful: they can crush us or establish us, build us up or knock us down.

Whose label do you carry, whose words do we live up to, or live down to?

Jesus gave us the right to be called children of God!

Give back to Caesar… Return what is owing… pay your dues to Caesar… and to God… The one whose image you bear, the one whose inscription you are marked with… the one who paid the price, who covered your debts… give back to God what you owe him… a simple debt of love, of gratitude, of service, of worship. He asks nothing of us except that we might bear, that we might reflect, that we might display his image and inscription for all to see. That we might demonstrate the same family characteristics in our words and our actions.


Father, we get to call you Father because you have spoken over us a new name, a new identity: you have called us sons and daughters of God. Thank you that you are working in our lives to conform us to your beautiful, your powerful, your glorious image. Help us to live lives worthy of your name and image; help us to radiate your love and character to those around us today. Amen.

READING: Luke 20:20-47

Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be sincere. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said, so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. So the spies questioned him: ‘Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?’

He saw through their duplicity and said to them, ‘Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?’

‘Caesar’s,’ they replied.

He said to them, ‘Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.’

They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.

Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. The second and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. Finally, the woman died too. Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?’

Jesus replied, ‘The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord “the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”. He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.’

Some of the teachers of the law responded, ‘Well said, teacher!’ And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Then Jesus said to them, ‘Why is it said that the Messiah is the son of David? David himself declares in the Book of Psalms:

‘“The Lord said to my Lord:
‘Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.’”

David calls him “Lord.” How then can he be his son?’

While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the market-places and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.’