Matthew 22:15-22 - Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle Him in His words. And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that You are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and You do not care about anyone's opinion, for You are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what You think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?" But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, "Why put Me to the test, you hypocrites? Show Me the coin for the tax." And they brought Him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" They said, "Caesar's." Then He said to them, "Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." When they heard it, they marveled. And they left Him and went away.
I found something really strange in the footnotes of this story today. The bit where Jesus' enemies say "You are not swayed by appearances"? The Greek wording for this is literally "You don't look at people's faces." It's true, I looked it up.
Naturally the translators had to rephrase that—if they said it exactly that way in English, people would get the idea that Jesus kept His eyes on the ground all the time, or something like that! But there's another way that "faces" are being used in this story, and that has to do with coins.
Jesus tells them to bring Him a denarius coin. The denarius has two sides, the face side and the other side—the one we call "tails." The face side is the one we tend to look at first, because it's clearer and easier to read, so it doesn't take long to figure out how much the coin is worth.
And so Jesus asks them: "Whose face is this on the coin?" He goes on to say, more or less, "If his face is on it, give it to him."
It's not that Jesus is extremely concerned for Caesar and his taxes. But He is very concerned for us—every human being—because we bear the likeness and the image of God who made us. If we were coins, it would be God's face that was stamped on us! And that gives us our worth.
So in this sense, yes, Jesus does look at faces! He looks at the face of God, which is stamped on all the people He has made; and He thinks, if it has God's image, it belongs to God, right? Jesus died and rose to bring all of us image-bearers back to God, back to the One we belong to—forever.
WE PRAY: Dear Lord, bring me safely back to the Father, to belong to You forever. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. When you look at the people around you, do you see God's image?
2. If you did, how would that change the way you deal with them?
3. How can you get in the habit of seeing that face more clearly in your neighbors?
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