Sermon- Hats Off And Kneel!, Matthew 22:21 sermons -- Sunday Sermons preaching resources
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Hats Off And Kneel!

Then give to Caesar what is Caesar's, but give to God what is God's
Matthew 22:15-21

Sermon Topic Church and State

Sermon Week Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle A

Scripture Summary Matthew 22:21

Keywords

British House of Commons sessions are convened according to a strict ritual. The Speaker marches with great solemnity toward the Legislative Halls. On his way, he is led through the Visitors' Hall by a herald who calls out in a loud voice, "Hats off, strangers!" Hearing this traditional command, the spectators to the colorful ceremony respectively doff their headgear as the procession passes by. On one such occasion, the herald spotted an old friend named Neal McNeal, standing among the viewers. Impulsively, he cried out, "Neal! Neal!"--and all the spectators obediently dropped to their knees.

In today's Gospel Lesson, the question of how to satisfy the claims made on our loyalty by God and country both is put squarely to Jesus by the Pharisees. These Pharisees were troubled with Jesus for three reasons: 1) He was preaching the primacy of the spirit over the letter of religious law, 2) He was identifying closely with the poor, the downtrodden, the social outcasts, whereas the Pharisees were members of a comfortable religious elite, standing above the poor and the ignorant ("the people of the land," as they called them) whom they held in contempt, 3) Jesus' call for a radical reversal of the Pharisees' values had attracted many followers. The Pharisees saw this as a threat to their exalted status. For these reasons, then, they sought to discredit Jesus. The question they asked concerning loyalty to God and loyalty to State was a loaded one.

The Jews were an oppressed people, living under Roman domination. The Pharisees had learned how to play the game, how to "get along" with their oppressive rulers. Jesus, on the other hand, spoke openly of freedom and publicly condemned every form of injustice. The Pharisees were unsure of Jesus' motives. What was He up to? Was he aligning Himself with those who were advocating the violent overthrow of Roman rule in Palestine? If so, the Pharisees were determined to expose Him. They tried to corner Him with the question: "Is it lawful to pay tax to the emperor or not?" (Mt.22:17). If He answered "No," He could [...]

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