the 20th sunday after pentecost
the PRAYER. . .
Sovereign God, raise your throne in our hearts. Created by you, let us live in your image; created for you, let us act for your glory; redeemed by you, let us give you what is yours, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
the READING. . .
Then [Jesus] said to [the disciples of the Pharisees and the Herodians,] “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
the DEVOTION. . .
Less than two weeks till the most important election in our lifetime. The fate of the country hangs by a thread. And we read about the disciples of the Pharisees being sent to entrap Jesus. “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s,” he says, “and to God the things that are God’s.” They hear. They turn. And they walk away. To us, though, it’s all academic. A principle to be discussed. A philosophy to be debated. But to Jesus? Well … Chapter 21 was Palm Sunday. Chapter 26 will be Maundy Thursday. And the four in between are more of this. Plotting. Conspiring. Scheming. And none of it’s academic.
Eventually, both sides come together. Church and state. Politics and religion. Chief priests, elders, pharisees, scribes condemn. Emperor – caesar – executes. Jesus is, just, too much a threat, to both. Love too much a danger, to either. To us, the verse seems so nice and neat, so plain and simple. “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” But all we have to do is flip through the next three pages to see how the story, really, ends …
Bob Barndt, pastor