Marked 12 Blog
All sorts of meaty stuff is packed into Mark 12. I’m struck by the marvellous verbal showdown between Jesus and the unholy alliance of the Pharisees and Herodians. Their words drip with oily flattery but they slip on their own banana skin! “Should we pay the Roman poll tax. O Wise and Humble Teacher? Do share your thoughts, we are all (deaf) ears.” Jesus asks, “Who’s image is on the poll tax coin?” “Caesars’!” they reply brightly. And, someone “just happens” to have one of these despised Roman coins for the payment of the despised Roman tax on hand. How convenient. “Who is this?” asks Jesus, indicating the eikon/head/image on the coin. “Caesar!” they chorus. “Well, give Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what belongs to God.” Ouch.
But the crowds are delighted! So, what’s going on here? Is Jesus interested in my IRD returns? Should I forgo my online banking and only pay for things with coins? Especially my taxes? It’s the eikon part we need to notice. The word describes Caesar’s image on the coin and also idols. Significantly it also describes Christ; the eikon/image of God, humans; created in the eikon/image of God and believers; forming into the eikon/image of God/Christ.
Jesus finishes his riposte to the Pharisees and Herodians by telling everyone, “Give to God what belongs to God.” It’s about giving ourselves. The eikon we are belongs in only one treasury. God’s.