Rendering to Caesar and to God

We just finished a presidential election.  During the campaign, we saw candidates telling us about what they’d do as the next president.  And of course, one of the main subjects was taxes.  Each candidate had to tell the American people how they would handle our taxes.

In our passage for today, we see Jesus getting questioned on taxes.  What’s his position on taxes?  What would his policy on taxes be if he were elected Messiah?

Now, of course I’m being a little funny here.  Nobody gets elected Messiah, and Jesus was not on a campaign trail.  But as we think about this last election that we just went through, there certainly is some similarity to think about as we introduce our passage for today.  You see, most people don’t like to pay taxes.  That’s true today, and the same was true back then as well.  But it was especially true for the Jews back then.  The Roman taxes reminded the Jews that they were not free, even though they lived in the Promised Land.  It made them long all the more for a Messiah whom they hoped would give them freedom from taxes, and freedom from their Roman oppressors.

And so in some sense Jesus is being put on the spot as one who claimed to be the Messiah.  This question about taxes really was a question about his agenda as the Messiah.  Much like how the recent presidential candidates had to tell us what they’d do if they were president, Jesus was being asked what he’d do as Messiah.  Would he free the people from the bondage of the Romans, including the hated Roman tax?  And so as Jesus is questioned here, we learn more about his role as the Messiah and about the nature of his kingdom he promised to bring.

Passage: Mark 12:13-17
Author: Rev. W. Reid Hankins, M.Div.
Sermon originally preached during the Morning Service at Trinity Presbyterian Church (OPC) on 11/09/2008 in Novato, CA.

Click here for the manuscript.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.