“Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21b)



  •    Isaiah 45:1-7 
  •    1 Thessalonians 1
  •    Matthew 22:15-22 



fourth sunday in angels’ tide

Sermon Starter

In today’s Gospel, the Pharisees intended only evil for Jesus. They “went and plotted how to entangle [Jesus] in his talk. In another translation, they “went out and laid plans to trap Him in His words.” And yet, as is so often the case, the Pharisees with their evil desires unknowingly also illustrate for you how true Christian faith acts. Namely, faith traps God “in His words.” The Good News is that God wants you, His beloved children, “to trap Him in His words.”

The main section of this Gospel speaks about your government and about your duty to pay your taxes both faithfully and joyfully, recognizing that your government is God’s gift to you. No matter whether you agree with your government or not, that government has been given to you by your God. It is given to you so that you may not only enjoy its protection and other benefits, but so that you may also “honor [it], serve and obey [it], love and cherish [it]” (Small Catechism, Fourth Commandment) as dearly as you would your own parents. “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” In addition to our Lord’s own words, spoken in this Gospel, you ought to go home and read Romans chapter 13, where St. Paul treats the subject in greater detail. You might also read Luther’s treatment of the Fourth Commandment in the Large Catechism. We are not going to make it that far into today’s Gospel. The first verse speaks plenty for us, and we will have our hands full with only that.

“The Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap [Jesus] in His Words.” Here is something much more far-reaching than paying taxes. Here we have evil men doing an evil thing, yet in so doing, they demonstrate also for us the way we ought to be living according to the faith of our Baptism. Jesus does not want such treatment from these liars and murderers. He calls them hypocrites. He reads their intentions and condemns them by asking, “Why are you trying to trap me?” Yet the thing that our God does not want from these fellows is exactly the thing He wants from you. He wants you to “trap Him in His Words.”

Collect of the Day

O God, the protector of all who trust in You, have mercy on us that with You as our ruler and guide we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.