Matthew 22: 34-40
In the passage, Herodians who supported the Roman government were pleased to pay the tax to Caesar. By contrast, Pharisees, who were committed to every detail of Jewish law, opposed paying the tax to Caesar for religious reasons.
Given their divided loyalties and positions of the Roman empire, the Pharisees and the Herodians posed the either A or B question to Jesus, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?”
When the Herodians and the Pharisees tried to mix religion and politics by asking the trick question, Jesus’s answer was wise enough to make them silent and amazed, and they even went away, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
The question for us is not whether we should pay or should not pay taxes anymore. My questions for each one of us are these: “What things should we give to God?” and “What does our faith cost us?” Throughout the Bible, the Old Testament and New Testament remind us that faith in God cost one’s life, not money.
Paul suffered opposition, including beatings and imprisonment for his preaching of the Good news. How about Jesus? The opposition that Jesus faced with the Pharisees and the Herodians in the passage finally led Jesus to the cross at Calvary.
We all may have our own story about what sacrifices might we have had to make for our family or our profession. What sacrifices have we made to follow Jesus? What does it cost us to follow Jesus?
In verse 36, the answer that Jesus gave to the Pharisees reminds us what costs we should pay to follow Jesus, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Do we love our neighbor? Well, we do. However, we should question ourselves and keep checking around us about who our neighbor is. Isn’t it true that we consider our neighbor to be those who look like us, think like us, speak like us, pray like us, and vote like us?
As the Presidential election of 2020 is coming up, of course, we are facing either A or B question again. Surely, we all have a civil liberty to choose and cheer a certain candidate. However, your choice should follow a responsibility to love other people who do not vote like you.
The great commandment still invites each one of us not only to make a commitment to the faith community, but also to surrender our assurance, pride, and will in order to love our neighbor, who doesn’t look like us, doesn’t think like us, doesn’t speak like us, doesn’t pray like us, and doesn’t vote like us. Amen.