Jesus is not talking about taxes

Should we pay them, or should we not?’ But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, ‘Why are you putting me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me see it.’ And they brought one. Then he said to them, ‘Whose head is this, and whose title?’ They answered, ‘The emperor’s.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ And they were utterly amazed at him.

Mark 12:15-17

When we look at this story it is often the case that we like the crowd become amazed at Jesus' ability to avoid being trapped by the two camps. He finds a way to navigate between the laws of the Emperor and the laws of Moses.

Not bad Jesus. Not bad at all.  

However, our attention to the answer distracts us from the teaching that comes in the question Jesus asks.  


You see when he asks whose image is on the coin it should, for those with ears to hear, should trigger for them another story. Namely the story of Genesis 1 when God creates male and female in God's image.  

When Jesus asks whose image is on the coin, it should trigger in us that if the image on the coin dictates who "owns" that coin then the image that impressed on humanity should dictate who "owns" humanity. We all belong to God. We are not created in our own image nor of our own doing. We are all God's icon bearers and we all owe our lives to the creator.  

Jesus is not saying that there is some money that belongs to the Emperor (taxes) and some money that belongs to God (tithe). 

Jesus is saying that if we understand whose image we have impressed on us then questions about paying taxes or who is our neighbor or how should we pray become much less perplexing.