Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Paying Taxes to Caesar

3.17.2015 Tuesday of Lent 4                        Mark 12:13-27 Paying Taxes to Caesar

Religious leaders attempt to trap Jesus by asking him whether taxes should be paid to Rome. The religious leaders came to Jesus with a trick question that no matter how He answers, He is in trouble. Pharisees and Herodians come to Him with the question whether taxes should be paid to the Roman government. The Pharisees would say, “No”; the Herodians would answer, “Yes.” If Jesus said one should not pay taxes, He could be arrested as a subversive and revolutionary. If Jesus said one should, He would be in trouble with the patriotic Jews who hated Roman dominance. Jesus recognized that the inquirers were hypocrites and that they came to find occasion to have Him arrested. His answer caused His enemies to marvel at His answer: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

There may be a separation of church and state, but not separation of God and state. This is implied in Jesus’ statement that we are to render to Caesar and to God, not to one or the other. Trouble begins for a nation when it separates itself from God. God and state are interdependent interrelated. How are God and state are related?

A. God is the Lord of the nation — “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”
B. The laws of the state reflect the laws of God. The state is the left hand of God’s justice.
C. The ministers of state are also ministers of God.

I am a citizen in two kingdoms, the kingdom of earthly power, my government, and the kingdom of God, my church. I owe each everything I have. It all is a gift of God and belongs to Him anyway. Christians are sojourners and pilgrims in this world (I Peter 2:11). While our true citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20), we are to be ever mindful of our responsibilities to the nation in which we live. As we love God and serve our neighbor we are witnesses of Him in this world. That, my friends, is the definition of missions – Love God, serve your neighbor – become a sermon in shoes.

O God, with you is the well of life, and in your light we see light: Quench our thirst with living water, and flood our darkened minds with heavenly light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.[2]

[1] Image by Ed Rioja © Higher Things
[2] Collect  for Tuesday of Lent 4,  http://www.liturgies.net/Lent/LentenCollects.htm

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