Testing a King: taxes and faith

Coinage1The question of authority continues to play out in this and the following controversy narratives. In this scene the Herodians have been added to the playing field as a counterpoint and yet similar view as the Pharisees. Boring (Matthew, The New Interpreters Bible) comments: Continue reading

Advertisements

Testing the King: context

Coinage1Matthew 22:15–22  15 Then the Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap him in speech. 16 They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion, for you do not regard a person’s status. 17 Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” 18 Knowing their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin that pays the census tax.” Then they handed him the Roman coin. 20 He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” 21 They replied, “Caesar’s.” At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” 22 When they heard this they were amazed, and leaving him they went away. Continue reading

Careful

In Jesus’ parable, the King has prepared the feast – all is ready, the invitations sent … and resent, and yet amazingly, people don’t come. In our reading it says that people ignored the invitation. The underlying word in Greek means to ignore in a way that is careless – or perhaps, not being sufficiently careful with treasures with which we have been charged.

Parables are meant to get you to stop and think about what you have just heard. Why would people pass up on this extraordinary invitation: it comes from a king, it involves a lavish feast for the wedding of his son. The invitation is issued several times. Who could refuse it? Who would be careless with it?  Why don’t they show up? I guess their lives were filled with other things – other than the great feast. Continue reading

Growing Accustomed

Back in the day, I was part of a small advanced team that began the turn-over process for a fleet ballistic missile submarine as one crew relieved another crew. Our small team from the Gold Crew rode a tug into outer Apra Harbor, Guam, where we transferred to the submarine and were taken down the hatch. As soon as we were below, we instantly knew something was wrong. We had descended from the clear Pacific island breezes into the “locker room from hell.” It was though the fragrance from every high school football locker room had been concentrated in the confined space of a submarine. While you might think that description is exaggerated or part of a “sea story,” let me just say, the locker room analogy was kind compared to actual ambiance. Continue reading

Many are invited…

cast out13 Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ 14 Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

The Elect of God. The judgment seems harsh, but Matthew is thinking not of an actual wedding party, but of the last judgment. The language “weeping and gnashing of teeth” corresponds to 8:12; 13:42, 50; 24:51; 25:30, an apocalyptic expression (cf. Luke 13:28) that became a favorite of Matthew’s to picture the terror of condemnation at the last judgment. Continue reading

The Wedding Garment

weddingfeastredhouse11 But when the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. 12 He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence.

What to Wear. Scholars are of mixed opinion about the urgency of the “feast is ready” in v.8 as it applied to those invited when the servants scour the main road. One line of thought offers that these royal wedding feasts were several days in the making and even more in the execution. Not all guests came at the beginning nor stayed until the end. There was a great deal of coming-and-going during it all. There is no reason to suppose that, once invited, these people have no time to go home, to change their clothes, and to borrow clothes from their neighbors, if necessary. Continue reading

Community Called: Good and Bad Alike

Parable_Of_The_Great_Supper7 The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. 9 Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ 10 The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. Continue reading

Invited to Feast with the King

ur_invitedIn the Various Traditions. Among the various sources of Christian tradition, this parable of the wedding banquet has been preserved in three distinct versions. The simplest, and some say most authentic, rendering of the parable can be found in the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas. In Thomas’ version, the parable is composed of a series of refusals to a dinner. Each of the guests who begged off did so for reasons of business or commerce. Consequently the host sent servants into the streets to bring back whomever they could find. The tag line of the parable proclaims: “Buyers and merchants will not enter the places of my Father” (Thomas 64:12). Luke’s version of the parable (Luke 14:16-24), also preserves the reversal motif and bears evidence of the evangelist’s conviction, that the poor, outcasts, those otherwise marginalized from society will find a welcome in the kingdom. Continue reading

The Wedding Feast: context

Gospel_MatthewMatthew 22:1–14 1 Jesus again in reply spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. 3 He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. 4 A second time he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.”’ 5 Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. 6 The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. 7 The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. 9 Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ 10 The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. 11 But when the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. 12 He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. 13 Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ 14 Many are invited, but few are chosen.” Continue reading

Your Vineyard: sign of Hope?

Gardens are a necessity. Vineyards are a sign of abundance beyond the necessary. As terrible a gardener as I am, I can get a crop of vegetables in several weeks’ time. Not so with a vineyard. Vineyards take a long time and hard work to develop.  Try googling “starting a vineyard;” the results might surprise you.  After you buy the land (and not just any location will do), it costs $20,000 a year per acre to cultivate a vineyard, and there is no cash flow for 3 to 5 years while you wait for the grapes to be good enough for the harvest.  There is a lot of patient, intensive work and commitment.  Vegetable gardens are near-term cash crop; you can change it up every year. Vineyards are a long-term investment with one fruit produced for one’s lifetime. Continue reading