The story of the emperor's coin describes three failures of religious leaders. The first failure was hypocrisy. The Pharisees would not acknowledge John or Jesus as sent by God (21:27), and tried to arrest Jesus (21:46). They pretended that they were open to Jesus so that they might test him as the devil did (4:1-16). Jesus acknowledged their trickery, but took their question seriously. The second failure was a wrong understanding of godly teaching. For the Pharisees, a true teacher debated and discerned how those who lived by the Jewish law might have managed under Caesar's tax. This was not Jesus' kind of teaching. He called for repentance due to the rule of God coming into the world in him. His teaching was divine prophecy, not human legality. The third failure was replacing the divine perspective with a human perspective. The Pharisees perceived correctly that Jesus paid heed to no one's prominence or position, but they did not see that Jesus' impartiality to humans was an expression of his partiality to God. As the parables of the two sons, the wicked tenants, and the great banquet have shown, thanksgiving and devotion to God's goodness and authority take precedent. The self-interests of the Pharisees - and of Caesar, as it affected them - were not worth a penny's attention compared to the attention due God's reign. Caesar might get the coin, but God gets our whole life. We are made in the image of God, so to give to God what is God's is to give God our whole life.