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No Hiding Place

Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's
Matthew 22:15-21

Sermon Topic God: presence of

Sermon Week Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle A

Scripture Summary Matthew 22:21

Keywords

Jesus came down hard on hypocrisy. And when He did, the condemnation was always against His own people -- the good, Church-going, law-abiding people. He condemned them for "show-boating" when they gave alms. "Hyprocrites looking for applause," He said of them. He condemned them for show-boating when they prayed. They go to Church and pray "in order to be noticed," He said. He condemned the pillars of the Temple who paid only "lip service" to God and offered Him only empty reverence, so devoted were they to their own man-made rules for worship and right living. "Woe to you, you frauds," He said to them. Literally, over and over again, He called them frauds! He called them "blind fools" when He condemned them for their nit-picking and haggling over legalistic trivia.

Today's Gospel Lesson gives us one more example of the Pharisees' duplicity as they try to "butter up" Jesus with smooth talk, all the while intending to trap Him into making a political statement that could result in His arrest for treason. They put to Him the question of whether or not it was proper for Jews to pay the Roman census tax. The Pharisees imagined that Jesus' position would be against payment of the tax. This would please the Jewish Zealot Party, which favored the use of force to gain independence, but it would probably result in Jesus' arrest by the Romans. If, on the other hand, Jesus spoke in favor of the tax. He would alienate the Zealots. Either way He would lose, presumably. But Jesus' answer merely evades the problem without attempting to solve it.

Whether or not Caesar has a right to rule in Palestine is simply not covered by the answer. Nor does Jesus attempt here to identify precisly what is Caesar's and what is God's. Jesus sees through the Pharisee's hypocrisy, refuses to play their game, thwarts their plan to entrap Him (outsmarts them), and there is no sound basis for reading more than that into this episode. "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, but give to God what is God's" should not [...]

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