Sermon for November 17th, 2019

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Mark 12:13–17 (NT p.49)

13 Then they sent to him some Pharisees and some Herodians to trap him in what he said. 14 And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not? 15 Should we pay them, or should we not?” But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why are you putting me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me see it.” 16 And they brought one. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” 17 Jesus said to them, “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were utterly amazed at him.

Coins: Render Unto Caesar

  • In a chapter about the word battle between Jesus and the religious leaders
  • Stories of entrapment, but Jesus always finds a clever way out.
  • Who are you in this story? A Pharisee (religious fundamentalist)? A Herodian (Roman sympathizers)? The "they" who sent the leaders? Jesus? The Emperor?
  • Relevance to my life
  • watch out for people who begin with flattery.
  • Tertullian, in De Idololatria, interprets Jesus as saying to render "the image of Caesar, which is on the coin, to Caesar, and the image of God, which is on man, to God; so as to render to Caesar indeed money, to God yourself. Otherwise, what will be God's, if all things are Caesar's?"
  • Henry David Thoreau: "Render therefore to Caesar that which is Caesar's and to God those things which are God's" – leaving them no wiser than before as to which was which; for they did not wish to know.
  • Ghandi - "Jesus evaded the direct question put to him because it was a trap. He was in no way bound to answer it. He therefore asked to see the coin for taxes. And then said with withering scorn, "How can you who traffic in Caesar's coins and thus receive what to you are benefits of Caesar's rule refuse to pay taxes?" Jesus' whole preaching and practice point unmistakably to noncooperation, which necessarily includes nonpayment of taxes.
  • Render...does it mean "give" or "give BACK"?
  • Indebtedness. You are already in debt to Caesar (clearly you have his coin). Are you also in debt to God?
  • Story, Statistics, Next Steps