When the religious authorities sent spies to trick Jesus into saying something that can get him arrested and executed, Jesus turns this into an opportunity to talk about something more important. Their question is about money, but his reply points to where real value is found in life.
Martin, the model for the painting, is a regular in The Wild Olive Tree café at St George’s Tron Church of Scotland. He holds out a pound coin, which bears an image of Queen Elizabeth II, who has more than 900 official portraits. This juxtaposition shows that regardless of how others have perceived us, each of us is of equal value in the sight of God.
Paying Taxes to Caesar
Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be sincere. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said, so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
He saw through their duplicity and said to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.
Luke 20:20-26 (NIVUK)