The Message Translation
That’s when the Pharisees plotted a way to trap him into saying something damaging. They sent their disciples, with a few of Herod’s followers mixed in, to ask, “Teacher, we know you have integrity, teach the way of God accurately, are indifferent to popular opinion, and don’t pander to your students. So tell us honestly: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
Jesus knew they were up to no good. He said, “Why are you playing these games with me? Why are you trying to trap me? Do you have a coin? Let me see it.” They handed him a silver piece.
“This engraving—who does it look like? And whose name is on it?”
They said, “Caesar.”
“Then give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his.”
The Pharisees were speechless. They went off shaking their heads.
Thoughts from Cory: How often do you think about the Roman Empire?
If, like Jesus, we were a part of the Roman Empire, we’d probably be thinking about it everyday.
This passage, seemingly about coins and money and taxes and authority, touches on a deeper issue: To whom or to what do we owe our allegiance? Country, family, sports team, God, political party, work, religion, or wealth? We are pushed and pulled in many directions in our culture.
“Caesar is Lord!” was the proclamation of the Roman Empire. Caesar and Rome demanded allegiance. While that language might seem out of place in our current context, there are still large demands placed upon our allegiance.
With what you choose to give your attention and your loyalty and your energy to, is your life enlarged and enriched by that thing, or are you left dissatisfied and dismayed?
Does your allegiance lead you to care better for yourself, for your neighbors, and for the created world? Or do you feel your world shrinking, more self-focused?
Does it lead us to a greater sense of freedom, or to a place of fear?
Outward Mindset Application
Pay attention to how many times you are tempted to speak negatively about someone else. See if you can catch yourself in time to transform your negative comment into something more productive.
Pathways Toward Centeredness
Sensation (Loving God through our senses):
How often do we think of our sense of Taste as a pathway for experiencing God? This week, spend 10 seconds before each meal in silent awareness of this sense and where the Divine might be present.
Questions for Reflection
What lessons about money were told to you growing up?
If you could enact a new financial system in the world, what would some of your priorities be?
“Liturgy” refers to the habits and practices humans use to form community around shared values and meaning. At Church at the Park, we desire to be a community of practice, becoming people who see the world through the eyes of the marginalized, making meaning through the lens of pain and suffering, and committing ourselves to non-violence in a wounded world. This weekly email is intended to provide pathways of practice for becoming the type of people who embody these values.
Many of our reflections on each week's text come from other sources. If you're interested in reading more of what inspires us, here our our two favorite reflections.
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