Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
October 19, 2014
“Render–But Don’t Surrender–unto Caesar” (Matthew 22:15-22)
“Render unto Caesar”: I think most of us have heard that expression. In fact, I would say that most Americans, whether they’re in the church or not, have heard it. “Render unto Caesar.” The average person might say: “Let’s see, I think that has something to do with what we’re supposed to owe the government.” And they would be right. It does have to do with what we owe the government. But don’t stop the saying there. It goes on, you know. “Render unto Caesar . . . the things that are Caesar’s.” And so then the question becomes: What exactly are “the things that are Caesar’s”? Where does that stop? What is it that we owe the government? Does “Render unto Caesar” mean an unlimited rendering? Or are there limits?
“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” But the sentence doesn’t even stop there. It’s a quote from Jesus, which we heard in our Gospel reading today, and Jesus goes on to speak of a “rendering-unto” that is even more important than what we give to the government. He says, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And so we’re going to get into all of that today, under the theme, “Render–But Don’t Surrender–unto Caesar.”