Our scripture this week is Matthew 22:15-22.
Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.
Jesus has been debating with various religious leaders as they try to discredit His teaching and ministry. They have been unsuccessful so far, but their question about paying taxes to the emperor is very sensitive to the people. The tax is a heavy burden and they resent supporting those who occupy their territory.
Jesus doesn’t avoid the issue but He points their attention to what is really important – their connection to God and the obligation He lays on them. If we focus only on our earthly cares, it is easy to be defeated by them. If we see the blessings that God has for us, we are strengthened and called to be part of His plan.
When we are overwhelmed by this world, Jesus wants to comfort us. He charges us to comfort others as well. In joy or grief, we are all God’s children, responsible to Him and each other.
Loving Lord, the world weighs us down because we have let it become our primary concern. Help us lift our hopes to You and see the new world You promise us all. Amen.