Currency is in the news these days. Whose likeness should be on the currency? In a positive way, it teaches us who these people are. I remember watching an educator put together a history exam once and he had a question about Alexander Hamilton. He was putting a picture (early days of computers) of Hamilton in the question. That's not Hamilton, I said. That's Jefferson. You sure? he asked. I pulled out a $10 bill and placed it in front of him. Oh.... He then went back into the cut-and-paste function. So in this current debate about Andrew Jackson, Harriet Tubman, and the $20 bill, we can ask whose likeness we may need for a reference point somewhere down the road?
Does our currency make some kind of statement? Does it really matter who is on the face of currency? I guess in a way it does. We are fortunate we don't live in a monarchy or dictatorship where we have the mug of a monarch or the dictator for the length of their reign. Yet I've always wondered how Jefferson, one of our greatest thinkers, got a nickel and a two dollar bill. What's up with that? I'd have Jefferson and Hamilton alternate on the $10 bill because of the utter irony of that (now you will have to look that up, I will go no further). Finally, growing up with a decidedly southern mother, I learned of the flaws of Lincoln and Grant when I saw their likenesses (Lincoln far more than Grant in my house mind you), so no matter who you choose, it will draw controversy.
The pharisees attempt to draw Christ into controversy with a question very much along these lines. "Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?" The question came from the pharisees trying to tap the Jewish resentment of paying a tax that demonstrated they were subjects of the Roman empire. The pharisees, knowing of this resentment, attempted to trap Christ, rising in popularity with his followers, with this question. Saying yes causes a loss within his followers, and to say no would give them charges before Pilate (Lutheran Study Bible). Christ senses this hypocrisy and the trap, so he has them get out a coin and asks them whose likeness is on it. Of course, they have to answer Caesar, to which he states, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's." (Luke 20:25).
The Study Bible also notes that the fact that the pharisees had a coin bearing the likeness of Caesar "tacitly acknowledged Caesar's rule." (Explanatory note in Matthew) It was, in a word, an awkward moment. All from currency.
We thank God for all that we have and we know that we have nothing that hasn't come from him. We know Christ's clear lessons for us in the differences between our earthly civil obligations and our returning to him our first fruits as a response to the love He has poured on us through his own sacrificial act of suffering and dying on our account.
Hope Men's Ministry