We Christians have some distinctive views about politics, government, and state control, not because we are affiliated with a particular national party but because we are attempting to worship and follow Jesus Christ. If Jesus is Lord, that means we aren’t. And nobody else is either. The church…our church!...exists as a living, breathing community that embodies an alternative kingdom. As the famous theologian, H. Richard Niebuhr, once elaborated, we are to be in the world but not of the world.
In Matthew 22 Jesus is being questioned by the religious leaders, not because they wanted an education, but because they wanted to trap Jesus into saying something embarrassing. If Jesus said anything against Caesar, the authorities would come down hard on Jesus. As you know, Jesus died on a cross. That’s the Roman way of punishment for anyone creating a revolutionary disturbance. What belongs to Caesar, Jesus is asked? His answer, though subliminal, is that everything belongs to God.
As Jesus said earlier, no one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. Presumably, one also cannot serve God and the emperor. At the end of the lesson with the religious leaders, people were astonished by Jesus. Astonished by the ways Jesus looks at the world. Astonished that following Jesus may not be as easy as one might think. Perhaps most of all, astonished that Jesus believes in us so much, he died for us. With God’s help, we are to be faithful to such a demanding teacher as Jesus!
Peace, Pastor Gary