A Double Query

 From “Sermon on Matthew 22:21” (ca. 1615)

They come now to Christ to receive his resolution, which part he will take. It is, for them, a contentious debate. To retain the people’s favor and avoid their outcry, he speaks doubtfully of Caeser’s tribute. “They have what they would;” it is that they came to bring Christ in disgrace… “We found this man denying to pay tribute to Caeser.” But if this is not, if he is for the tribute… they shall set the people upon him, as a wasps’ nest. They shall subject him to their clamor and public disgrace. He that must be their messiah must proclaim a jubilee, must cry “No tribute!” Otherwise he is not for them. If he betrays them to the servitude of tolls and taxes, then away with him! So they have Jesus at a dangerous dilemma, imagining he must take a part.

But that was their error. For Christ took a way between both. For as neither part is simply true, so there is some truth in both. Therefore, he answers not absolutely, as they fondly conceived, he must, but with a double query. This was not the answer for which they looked. But they missed their purpose…

The sum of this is that Christ is neither Gaulonite nor Herodian; nor are Christians any more Gaulonites to deny Caesar his request, nor Herodians to grant him God’s and leave God none at all. But rather they are ready to acknowledge what is due to either, both faith to God and allegiance to Caesar.

Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626) was Bishop of Chichester and Winchester, one of the most influential scholars and church leaders of his day. He was one of the principal translators of the Authorized “King James” Version of the Bible, and a widely admired preacher. He is commemorated on September 26 on the calendar of several Anglican churches.


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