Throughout the Gospels Jesus is constantly being questioned and setup to say something to justify the authorities arresting him. Rather than the religious leaders confronting him personally this week’s passage reveals they sent their henchmen to do their dirty work. They disciples of the Pharisees and Herodians. They ask Jesus and impossible question to answer without incriminating himself. Jesus then turns the tables on them and shows once again to spotlight their evil and hypocrisy.
- "Have you stopped beating your wife?" There is no "right" answer.
- Flattery did not work on Jesus.
- The question posed to Jesus paints him into a terrible corner: "Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?"
- The tax in question seems to refer to a Roman tax upon the harvest and personal property that was regulated through the census or registration (see Luke 2:1-5). According to Josephus, the religious leaders helped to collect the tax, even though many Jews objected to paying the Roman tax on theological grounds (Josephus, Jewish War, 2.403-5).
- If the religious officials are indeed the ones helping to collect this tax, then Jesus' opponents have implicitly already sided with the authority of Rome to tax the Jewish people.
- Show me a Roman coin! The ones trying to trip Jesus just happened to have a denarius. Without realizing it they indicted themselves.
- Jesus was not a lamb led to slaughter. He looks his enemies in the eye and challenged them.
- Jesus knew in time his conflict with those who had the civic power would arrest him on something. That did not stop him from putting a spot light on who they were and what they were doing. \
- We are citizens of the state. We pay taxes with US Currency.
- Give to God what is God’s.
- Does God want our money?
- What is God’s currency?
- Love, Compassion, kindness, forgiveness, honesty, courage,
- God does not need our money. Give to God what is God’s?
- Give God your time.
- Stop, listen,
- Speak directly to injustice even if the unjust is flattering you.
- Do the work necessary to become one with God as Jesus was.
- Be a force on earth that honors God’s creation!
- Connect deeply to your soul.
- Connect deeply with the people and the world around you.
- Live in your true self.
Call to Celebration
It is good for us to gather together in hope.
We are God’s beloved family.
You created us in your image.
We are engraved on the palms of your hands.
We are a reflection of your goodness.
Our doing is grounded in your being.
Your character is revealed through us.
May our actions speak louder than our words. Amen
We give thee but thine own,
whate'er the gift may be;
all that we have is thine alone,
a trust, O Lord, from thee.
(William Walsham How. Lyrics to We Give Thee But Thine Own. vs. 1., 1858, https://hymnary.org/text/we_give_thee_but_thine_own)
Bringing in the Light
Celebrations & Concerns
Matthew 22: 15-22
Taking the Light into the World
A Prayer for Peace and Restoration
God of Rest, give peace to our weary souls. As we share our frustrations, fears, and disappointments, grant us grace to see your hand at work. Remind us that we are not forgotten. Assure us a future with hope. Amen
Rev. LaTrell Harrison