Gospel: Matthew 22:15-22
Epistle: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Lesson: Isaiah 45:1-7
Psalm: Psalm 96:1-9 (10-13)
CLB Commentary – Rev. David Rinden
How should this text be preached? It seems natural to speak about Jesus’ followers’ obligation to the Kingdom of God and to the kingdom of this world. Look at Jesus’ words: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
The text, however, has no more to say on the subject. Therefore, to preach on this topic, one needs to go to other places in the Scriptures to gain support for the text.
This text could be preached by answering these two questions: What are we to give to Caesar (ie, our Country); and What are we to give to God? A few Scriptures that may be helpful are: Matthew 17:27; Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13; 1 Peter 2:14; 1 Peter 2:17; Psalm 48:1-2 (and other references to praise of which there are many!); Matthew 6:33; Luke 21:4; Matthew 16:23-27.
A danger in preaching the text this way is that it is heavy on law—here is what you are to give to Caesar; here is what you are to give to God! The Good News is that the chief priests and Pharisees could not stop Jesus from going to the cross. This question was asked, it is thought, on Monday of the week of Jesus’ death. So when preached this way the center of the sermon must be Christ’s love that makes it possible for us to be worthy citizens of our country; and people who love to give to God what is his due, even though inadequate.
Another possibility of preaching this text is to show that the kingdom of Caesar and the kingdom of heaven are separate and distinct, but according to Jesus, both deserve our loyalty.
An additional possibility is to preach this text with stewardship in mind. We have been blessed to be a blessing. God has richly blessed us with all good things to enjoy; things that are temporal and physical, and things that are spiritual. They are gifts we do not deserve. But we give because God has been so generous to us, an appropriate theme this time of year.
A further suggestion is to preach this question along with two others asked of Jesus during the week of his death. These are found in Matthew 22:27 and Matthew 22:37. To do this the preacher needs to find the common thread that holds these together in this section of Matthew’s Gospel.