The transcript today is just my notes. Sorry, I have the flu.
Pretty famous: render unto Caesar
recent Books: Archbishop Chaput
Monday of Holy Week
Already come in on Palm Sunday, Hosanna to Son of David, cleansed Temple
Throw down with Pharisee and Sadducees
Threatening parables: vineyard, wedding feast
Then their questions: know his teaching and personality, so try to make hypotheticals where it seems he either has to go against the Torah or go against his previous statements
Or even go against the civil roman authorities
Taxes, resurrection, greatest commandment, woman caught in adultery
Odd set up: Herodians
Politically shifty, compromise
Pharisees: allied more with zealots
Hate Herod, hate Rome, nothing but Jewish national rule
Major threat if together
Either against Jewish self rule
Or against rome and Caesar
Remember the charge: insurrection
Pilate would've let go except
Butter him up and give one or other answer, both of which they think will condemn him
Show me the coin
Genius: like greatest command, woman, by what authority
Skips over their supposed dilemma: What about this?
What does this have to do with anything
Give answer: Return to Caesar
Take for granted this was brilliant
But lots more to it than this
Coin has an image
King, emperor, local God
But that word, icon, is what the first commandment says you cannot have: "you shall have no graven images"
Why are there moneychangers in the temple?
Why are there tables for Jesus to flip over the day before?
It's not a question of changing Roman coins into Jewish coins because of the exchange rate, it's because all coins come in with images graven in them
Often times the kings themselves said they were gods of some sort
You can't go and buy a turtledove or a goat to sacrifice with coins with graven images
Everybody comes into Jerusalem with a pocketful of idolatry
And so they have to go to the money changers and trade their Caesar coins for —aniconic, non-iconic coins— temple shekels because God has no icons, no image
So with this as background, Jesus's words don't make sense:
Give to Caesar what's caesars, literally what bears his image, his coin.
But give to God what is God's what bears his image? But what bears his image? Nothing does!
But something does bear God's image, doesn't it?
It's not a coin
Not a statue or temple
Think back to Genesis 1
What is the one thing that bears God's image?
So when J says give to Caesar what is Caesar's, give him what has his image—this stupid coin
Then he's saying give to God what bears his image—you
Give him your whole self
So it's not just that Jesus slip through their trap,
But is making a huge point
I don't care much what you do with your money: Caesar, king of Persia, or dump in a well
Give to God what looks like God
Give him your whole life
Later in this chapter they'll ask him what is the greatest commandment
He'll answer: love the lord
SAME THING: Render to God what bears God'a image.
So it's not just a nifty rhetorical move or a cool debate counterattack that saves him from the Roman but also doesn't tick off the Jewish nationalists,
He has gone deeper,
Like he does with the question of forgiveness with the woman caught in adultery
He's gone deeper and said:
The material stuff, the worldly stuff, the civic stuff is secondary to the question of where are our hearts, where are our lives, going?
A year ago as we prepared for our stewardship renewal I reflected on this when I preached on the idea that:
"Nothing I have is mine. Not my breath. Not my thoughts. Not my talents. Not even my dreams and wishes."
Nothing is my own. Everything comes from God.
So the real message of today's gospel isn't that Jesus is a first-rate debate champion, but that he wants us to recognize that everything we are and we have is God's, and that as we return our taxes to Caesar, we need to return ourselves to the Lord.