Chi Rho Reflection for the Week of September 2, 2012
As one of the on-going ministries of Chi Rho Press,
here is a selection from our book of daily devotions,
"Living as the Beloved: One Day at a Time," by the
Rev. Dr. Sandra Bochonok.
Please read the Scripture passage and Dr. Bochonok's
meditation. We hope you will be blessed. Thank you
for forwarding this to your friends.
Trickery, Caesar, and Taxes
"Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him
in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him,
along with the Herodians, saying, 'Teacher, we know
that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in
accordance with truth, and show deference to no one;
for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell
us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes
to the emperor, or not?' But Jesus, aware of their
malice, said, 'Why are you putting me to the test,
you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.'
And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to
them, 'Whose head is this, and whose title?' They
answered, 'The emperor's.' Then he said to them,
'Give therefore to the emperor the things that are
the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's.'
When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left
him and went away."
Political and religious enemies have always made
strange bedfellows. Normally the Herodians and
Pharisees did not get along. Their political beliefs
differed sharply. But they shared a common desire to
eliminate Jesus and so joined forces in a clever trap.
First they flattered Jesus. Then they asked him a
highly charged, politically dangerous question about
Caesar and paying taxes. Their country was under
Roman rule. If Jesus responded by defying Caesar
and his oppressive taxation, this would place Jesus
in very dangerous situation. He could be arrested
and severely punished as a revolutionary.
Being no fool, Jesus instantly saw through their
trickery. He knew their motives and felt their
deadly hatred. He called their bluff and let them
know he understood their attempt to trap him. What
began as a potentially deadly trap instantly became
one of his most famous sayings. "Give to Caesar what
is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."
People of faith have long struggled to understand what
it means to be a good citizen even when living under
the rule of repressive, harsh, and evil governments.
While honoring God in our lives how can we advocate
justice and mercy, fight hunger, work for world peace,
and make the world a better place to live? Even when
we try to put politics aside, what does this teaching
mean in our private, religious, social, professional,
and recreational lives? How do we do this as we
struggle to pay our bills and put food on the table?
I personally know of no easy answers to these questions.
A popular question, which asks what Jesus would do in
various situations, sometimes feels simplistic. But I
know of no better way to begin.
Our story today concludes with Jesus' enemies baffled
and astonished by his answer. They leave while shaking
their heads in dismay and anger. But their conflict
with him will only intensify. They are determined to
rid their world of this upstart theologian.
God, teach us to give Caesar what is Caesar's. Bless
us with the mind of Christ so we may know how give you
what is yours. Amen.
Grace and peace,
Chi Rho Press
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