The Irony in Images
I am doing my best not to post much in the New Testament during my duration through the NASB. It isn't that the NT contains fluff. It simply is a reflection that many are familiar with the NT and I will enjoy just listening without thinking of potential posts. However, one little bit just snagged me and pulled me out of my driving chair.
I have grown too familiar with many passages of Scripture. But one in particular struck me across the face,
"Render unto Caesar..."
If you are like me you know exactly how this sentence finishes. You're also likely familiar with the the context. Jesus Christ make a bold statement about the image impressed on an object dictating the person to whom the item belongs. Jesus answers in this way to walk a fine line. There are also some intricate little ironies involved too though. Common to some is the distinction between the image on money being unto Caesar while the image of God being upon man. In this way Jesus said to give your money to Caesar but give yourselves to God. This is good.
But there is something even more ironic and sinister than that and it has been lying under my nose for a long time. Jesus Christ is the Image of God. Yep. The clear truth we know from the book of Colossians stands in almost blinding irony. Jesus is the image of God. And who should He be rendered to? The Father.
All three Synoptic Gospels point to Christ making this statement. But the Gospel of John makes a huge statement beyond this. The Jews render Jesus (the Image of God) to Caesar. The name "Caesar" only appears twice in the Gospel of John. There is no previous build up. There is no lead in. It almost leads one to presume John knew about the other gospels and inserted this into his text for a purpose. John points out the concluding truth.
1) Jesus has set Himself up in opposition to Caesar (John 19:12).
Forget whatever you have been taught about Jesus saying His kingdom was "not of this world" (John 18:36). It is highly unlikely that in conjunction with this passage the truth of the disciples relationship to the world had been stressed (John 15:18-19; John 17). Christ was sent into the world and He has sent His disciples into the world. The gospel of John does not teach a spiritual kingdom. It teaches a literally and earth centered kingdom driven in power by Christ's apostles. Everything Jesus Christ stands for opposes the kingdom of Caesar.
2) Christ was given up as a sacrifice to Caesar (John 19:15).
Far from staying neutral in the position of Christ, the Jews took their side early. They rendered unto Caesar the Image of God, Jesus Christ. They could not come close to fulfilling the teaching of Jesus Christ. They could not refrain from offering even fake submission to Caesar.