Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity (1891

)
Matthew 22:15-22 A most instructive Gospel that we just heard! Christ engages in the First and Fourth Commandments, speaks about Divine Service and human service, gives information on how both services should happen, as well as clearly distinguishes between God's kingdom and the world's kingdom. The doctrine in our text is especially very important in our time and in our country. Many would perhaps give to Caesar what is Caesar's, i.e., they would be good citizens and are also good citizens before men, but they hold it as unnecessary to give to God what is God's. Others would give back to God what is God's, but would not obey the authorities. Still others would mix into one another the world's kingdom and God's kingdom and see in it the greatest happiness of the Church if it is under the rule of the state. So that we now follow the words of Christ as faithful children of God and always learn better to walk in His ways, let me thus answer your question: What should be said to us as citizens and Christians according to today's Gospel? 1. We should give the authorities what is due the authorities. a. The authorities are God's ordering according to the Fourth Commandment. Christ confirms this truth in our text. Holy Scripture teaches this in many other places. 1 No doubt there are various forms of government: monarchies, oligarchies, republics; no doubt authorities arise in various ways: by succession, by free choice of the people, by conquest; finally authorities can be pious or impious, Christian or heathen, tyrannical or mild: the word always applies: "There is no authority without God." Consequently b. the duty of subjects to give authorities what is due the authorities. In particular are the following items: honor, obedience, taxes. Yes, everything earthly and temporal, property and blood, life and limb, belongs in Caesar's kingdom.2 No citizen may oppose this. The ones who resist by irreverence, by disobedience, by deception in relation to taxation, etc. will incur judgment upon themselves.3 c. As Christian citizens prayer4 in particular, guarding against offence, and a more exemplary way of life5 for conscience sake is still commanded us. Christians should and must prove to be the best citizens. 2. We should render to God what belongs to God.

1 2

e.g. Romans 13:1; 1 Peter 2:13. Fourth Commandment; Romans 13:1. 3 Romans 13:2. 4 1 Timothy 2:1-2: the general prayer of the Church. 5 Matthew 5:16.

a. As there are great, powerful worldly kingdoms, there is also a great kingdom of God. This is the holy Christian church, founded by Christ's blood and death, built and expanded through the Word from the cross. The subjects of this kingdom are Christians. So Christians live in a two-fold kingdom. It follows b. that they also have sacred duties toward God in addition to their obligations toward the authorities. Christ says: "Render to God what is God's." What does this mean? Faith and conscience, confession, divine service and therefore the heart that fear God above all things should love and trust. These parts are not in secular law books, but only in God's Word. c. If the authorities demand what is God's, then Christians may well use the proper means to dissuade the authorities; but if everything is unsuccessful, then they must refuse to obey, suffer, and give God the glory.6 3. We should recognize the high benefit that church and state are separated in our country. a. Verse 21. With this answer the Lord has clearly and sharply separated between God's kingdom and Caesar's kingdom, between state and church and resisted the secular authorities to interfere in the affairs of the Church, and prevented the Church to concern themselves with worldly affairs.7 A sharp separation of the two kingdoms also lies in the nature of each kingdom. In Caesar's kingdom are rulers and obedient ones, but in the Church is only one Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, and His Word; but all members of this kingdom are brothers with each other.8 It is this way by the grace of God in our country. Even in Luther's time, which brought this doctrine to light again, complete separation could not be accomplished. But in the United States, nowhere else, is this precious gift of religious freedom. This fact is in large part due to the tremendous growth of our beloved Church. (In order to imagine rightly the blessing of religious freedom, one remarks upon the state of the German national church and on Russia.) b. From the true knowledge of this high benefit should follow thanks to God, redeeming the time by diligent use of the means of grace and opening eyes against any attempt to mix state and church. Fanatics and enemies rummage; it stand there to pray and to watch and to use all means which we may attend to with a clear conscience, in order that we keep what we have. One may utilize Psalm 80:14-15, 17 and Jeremiah 29:7 as a conclusion. A. Pf.

6 7

Acts 5:29; Daniel 3. The first Christians at the time of the persecutions. Matthew 10:28. Stöckhardt. - Müller, Symb. B. p. 63. 8 Matthew 23:8.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful