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Sunday Scripture Reflection: Matthew 22:15-22

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

On this Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, we explore the challenge presented to Jesus by a group of religious authorities. The challenge is one many of us experience in different ways and at different times in our lives: a challenge between living a life based on the priorities of society and the world versus living a life based on God's invitation to help others and break down the barriers that create injustice, intolerance, and fear. Jesus understood that God's world of abundance did not depend on the emperor or of Roman society. We will reflect on how we experience the challenge of competing allegiances and how this informs and impacts our lives.

Our Scripture passage is found in the Gospel according to Matthew. The Scripture passage may be found by following this link: (Matthew 22:15-22).

For continuing study, reflect on these questions (found in the study guide below):

  • It is interesting to know a bit of background information about the Pharisees and the Herodians mentioned in this Scripture passage: Pharisees were a knowledgeable group of lay men, who focused on personal works of righteousness in fulfillment of the Law of Moses and often taught in the synagogue; The Herodians were followers of King Herod, who although a Jewish leader, was primarily a vassal king of the Roman Empire. The Pharisees and Herodians derived their power and influence from very different places, yet they come together here to attempt to discredit Jesus. Why would these two very different groups both benefit from Jesus' embarrassment?

  • After reading the "WHAT..." paragraph in the guide below, reflect on the final two sentences of this paragraph and reflect on the seemingly impossible position Jesus is placed in by the question of paying taxes - consider times in your life when you are placed in difficult positions as you feel the competing pull between things of the world in which we live and things that you feel God is asking of you.

  • Jesus' question, "Whose head is this?" of the coin points toward an interesting reflection question: the Greek word for "head" can also be translated as "image" - what does it mean to give priority in your life toward the "image" of another person or to model your life toward the "image" of God?

  • After reading the "WHERE is God..." paragraph in the guide, consider the words, "the cross of Christ forces Christians to become involved..." - reflect on your involvement in struggles in your life, and how these struggles are part of your witness to the Crucified and Risen Christ.

  • After reading the "SO WHAT..." paragraph below, consider the idea of "seeing the many images of ourselves..." - the image of the cross and the image of ourselves as "followers of Christ" might these understandings change one's life?

  • After reading the "NOW WHAT..." paragraph below, reflect on one of the main topics of this Bible study: how do you understand and resolve the competing allegiances of the world vs. God's mission - and how do you life your life so others know you are a follower of Jesus?

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