This Sunday we looked at one of the more well known stories in the Gospels. Jesus is asked a leading, and potentially quite dangerous question, about taxes. There is a lot going on behind that question. The Pharisees and Herodians actually got together to try and come up with something that would neutralize or remove Jesus. We don’t really have an analogy for this kind of cooperation they disliked each other so much, but maybe imagine the two sides of any civil war fixing on a common enemy and you’ll be close.
The question they asked, “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?” (Matt 22.16b-17 NRSV) is very cleverly designed. It is a “gotcha question” of the first order. If Jesus says yes, he is a traitor to the Jewish people, if he says no he is advocating sedition; a lose-lose. So Jesus doesn’t answer the question but instead asks a question and lays out a principle for us today.
All of us have a duty to the society in which we live, some societies make this easier than others, to pay our taxes, vote, be good citizens. If we are also followers of Jesus we have a duty to God also. It can be tricky to see where one set of duties stops and the other begins. It is even trickier when the two sets of duties seem to be in opposition. Hopefully one or both of the sermons will help you figure some of this stuff out.
Knox Presbyterian Who do we serve? (to download, right click and select “Save Link As . . .”)
St. Mark’s Presbyterian Who do we serve? (to download, right click and select “Save Link As . . .”)