How is it that we know that God values human life above all things in creation? Well, today I’m going to look at two passages of scripture, one that basically answers the question theologically and a second passage that kind of illustrates the answer that is given in the first passage. So the question again is, how do we know that God values human life more than all things in all of creation?
Turn to Genesis 1 and we begin to read about the origins of human life and this is what we will read in verses 26-27, “Then God said let us make man in our image after our likeness and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image. In the image of God, he created him male and female he created them.”
We have here the doctrine of the Imago Dei. The image of God. We know that God values human life over all of creation because only human life is imprinted with the Imago Dei, the very image of God. Granted that term, what it means, is mysterious. It is elusive beyond our descriptions. It’s a wonderfully, theologically, debatable topic, but it is a foundational doctrine for why human life is so valuable to God.
First of all, God created human beings differently from the way he created any other living things. He blew into the created man with the breath of his own mouth. He stamped man with his very image. That is an amazing thing to think about. It is evidence that of all the things that God created, only human life, bearing the image of God, can possibly be the highest priority and the highest value to God. It has to be human life that is valued above all other things in all of creation.
Now, let me take you to a second passage. In Matthew chapter 22, we have this passage where the Pharisees are trying to trick Jesus into saying something that they can use against him. This is what we read, “Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words, and they sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians saying, “Teacher, we know that you were true and teach the way of God truthfully. And that you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar? Or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said, “It’s Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard it, they marveled, and they left him and went away.”
They were trying to trap him into saying that there would be some sort of political rivalry between the kingdom that Jesus had come to set up and the Roman Empire which, of course, would require the emperor or the Romans to put Jesus to death because he had blasphemed the emperor. And God answers by saying, bring me the coin. On one side of the denarius is an inscription of Caesar himself. They would have inscriptions like “Tiberius Caesar, the divine son of Augustus Caesar” on the front of the coin and on the backside would be the goddess of peace holding a scepter.
So what is it that bears God’s inscription? The Pharisees and the teachers of the law would have known from Genesis 1 that only human beings and all human beings bear the image and the inscription of God himself. The Imago Dei is foundational for understanding why it is that human beings are valued by God above all things within his creation.