Matthew 22:15-22The Pharisees went and plotted to entrap Jesus in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?" But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, "Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax." And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, "Whose head is this, and whose title?" They answered, "The emperor's." Then he said to them, "Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's." When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.
Proper 24 year A
Whose stuff is this anyway
Give to Caesar the things that are Caesars. Give to God the things that are God's. There is no parable here. There is not a lot to be interpreted. The back story is kind of interesting. Once again the pharasees are trying to trip Jesus up.
Sure, these guys sound nice. They compliment Jesus by saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference.” Jesus sees through their compliments. He calls them hypocrites. Hypocrites were actors and actors of course pretend to be something they are not.
These hypocrites, these pharasees, think they have got Jesus on this one. If he tells them they should pay taxes, it means some of that money will go to support the pagan temples. If he tells them not to pay taxes then he is breaking the law and could be arrested for sedition. Yes, they surely think they have got him.
Of course Jesus is better at this than they are and we know his reply.
One of the questions in our bible study was, what is on the face of our currency. We put on there the faces of those who are important to US history. Washington, Jefferson Lincoln, Hamilton. All of the people on our currency are dead. In fact that is a rule in our country. In Jesus time it was the opposite. Roman Emperor's had there face on the coin during their rule. Jesus reply when he looked at the coin was, this is obviously the Emperor's coin because his face is on it. You are basically giving back to the Emperor his coin.
And then of course Jesus throws in the clincher. Everything else is Gods.
Think about that everything else is God's, including us..... the car I drive, my watch, my clothes, this church. Do we really think in those terms though. I just said my watch, my clothes. Everything we think we have is really just on loan.
My cousin John used to say, “I'm spending my money while I'm here. I've checked out those caskets. There aren't any pockets in them. By the way, John succeeded in spending all he had....and then some.
I was counseling at the food bank last Friday and I was listening to a man talk about how he should have come into a large inheritance but the rest of the family was doing so much infighting that he just threw up his hands and walked away from it. He said it was not worth all the bad feelings. My comment was that we are just taking care of those things while we are here. It all really belongs to God. He laughed and agreed with me.
My next thought was if all things are God's and we are just the caretakers what is our responsibility. Do we want to leave healthy land, water, and air for the people who follow us? Of course we do!
Having said that, I would like to end this sermon with a prayer from our Book of Common Prayer. P. 87 no. 41