Text: Matthew 22:15-22
A rule of etiquette in business and at the dinner table is: “never talk about religion or politics.” “Do not discuss politics or religion in general company” is from 1879. Some rules of business etiquette have changed over time, but this well-known adage from Hill’s Manual of Social and Business Forms, a guide to writing and etiquette from 1879, is still a common standard. The rule reads: “Do not discuss politics or religion in general company. You probably would not convert your opponent, and he/she will not convert you. To discuss those topics is to arouse feeling without any good result.” Common etiquette has extended a bit further to say, that in addition to politics and religion, you should never talk about sex or money, at least around the family holiday dinner table. But as the saying goes, “these are the most interesting things to discuss.”
Our brother Jesus never was one to follow a rule of etiquette. He ate with sinners, touched the untouchables, and traveled with the outcasts. And in Matthew 22 he talked about money, politics, and religion all in one fell swoop. If only he had mentioned the fourth hot topic, sex, there is no telling what fun the Baptists might have had all these years. But he didn’t, not at least in Matthew 22, so we will stay with money, politics, and religion as our focus this morning.
“We are at the point in Matthew’s story about Jesus where things are getting pretty tense. Earlier in the week, Jesus has entered Jerusalem and been greeted by adoring crowds. Riding this wave of popular acclaim, he immediately enters the Temple and overthrows the tables of the money-changers, challenging both the political and religious powers that be. Confronted by the religious leaders regarding the authority behind his actions, Jesus tells several provocative, even threatening parables calling into question their own authority and, indeed standing before God.” (David Lose, Working Preacher) [Read more…]