This week’s Gospel reading (Matthew 22 verses 15 to 22) sees Christ cornered by followers of King Herod and disciples of the Pharisees. An unusual pairing, some representing the then ruler of the Province (with Roman oversight) and other’s totally rejecting Roman rule yet looking for a Jewish Messiah to rule over a new world to come. A convergence of earthly politics and heavenly aspirations you might say that challenges Christ.
And the nature of the challenge is to catch out Christ regarding His view on loyalty. Is He loyal to the state? Does He believe that taxes should be paid to the current superpower rulers of Palestine?
In response, Christ asks for a coin, most likely a Denarius, a Roman coin worth a day’s wages and turning it over in His hand He asks about the engraving…
“This engraving-who does it look like? And whose name is on it?” Matthew 22 v 20. (The Message).
Response: “Then give Caesar what is his and give God what is His”. Matthew 22 v 21. (The Message).
In this age where local, national and indeed global politics are increasingly fused with identity politics, the politics of the tribe…be it national, religious, ethnic, based on sexuality, racial, gender or the traditional left or right arguments, is Christ saying… (my interpretation)…
“Yes. Sure. Give to the authorities (or other matters such as national identity or a religious cause or an ethnicity or a sexual or racial identity or one’s gender identity or economic philosophy their due. Remember though, the bigger picture is in how we relate to God the Creator and Sustainer of Life, and give God His due, our very lives”.
“Oh. Don’t forget. The bigger picture also includes how you treat those different from you. Even those who are very different from you”.
My reading of Christ’s words…fell free to quibble!
Tricky questions. Troubling answers. Thanks Jesus…?
It is widely acknowledged that this passage from Matthew’s Gospel has and continues to raise significant debate for Christians across Church history.
Just how are Christians to relate to a world riven with competing individual, communal, national and international identities? All clamouring for loyalty and their “dues”?
Tricky questions, troubling answers.
A call to seek first “the Kingdom of God”?
Picture courtesy of @savbrown