The Pharisees ask Jesus, ‘Is it right to pay tax to Caesar?’ Jesus answers, ‘Give Caesar what is Caesar’s, give God what is God’s.’
- Trap – The Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus. A question involving religion, politics and money is good bait!
- Truth – Jesus claims to be truth – intellectual, spiritual, experiential… (political and financial?)
- Triumph – Jesus answers by putting God and money in their correct perspective.
- Trick – The Pharisees imply only two answers: ‘Yes, pay tax’ or ‘No, don’t’. Jesus offers a third option.
The Third Option
Lowestoft is divided by the River Waveney. You can live north or south of the River. You can cross the river at the East end of Lowestoft by the town centre, or in Oulton Broad.
We are promised a third crossing, a third option.
Moses is leading the Jews out of Egypt where they have been slaves for many years. Pharaoh’s army come after them. The Jews panic: ‘It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than to die in the desert.’ Two options: slaves in Egypt or death in the desert.
Moses presents a third option: ‘The Lord will fight for you. Just stay calm.’ And the rest is history. The Red Sea divides. The Jews cross on dry ground. Pharaoh’s army chase them. The water returns. The soldiers drown. The Jews are saved.
John Perkins is a visionary civil rights leader. Brought up in the 1940s he has seen many friends abused by white people. His brother Clyde was killed by police officers.
A man told John about his racist grandmother. Would John ignore her or confront her? John chose a third option.
‘John said: ‘Does your grandmother like blueberries? Let’s go visit her.’ And they did, fully armed with a bowl of berries.’
References: Matthew 22:15-22; Exodus 14; John Perkins story told by Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove in ‘Becoming the Answer to our Prayers’ (2008)