I. Establish the text
A. Select the Pericope: Gospel Matthew 22:15-22
C. Other texts for Year A, October 16th in Ordinary Time
D. Brainstorm: What questions/thoughts come to mind?
15 Why do the “Pharisees” of our day want to entrap Jesus?
II. Literary Study.
A. What is the history of the text? Who wrote it? When? In what social context? What Historical/Religious/Sociological factors influenced its writing?
Matthew wrote this remembering the Zealot movement which resulted in a disastrous war (66AD – 70AD) and which arose in part over the Roman head tax. The tax had to be paid with Roman coins which blasphemously referred to Tiberius Caesar as son of the divine Augustus, and head priest.
III. Question the text.
D. Look for conflict: stated or implied.
The trick to the Pharisees question was would Jesus side with the Zealots, and refuse to pay the tax, or would he affirm the tax and the inferred blasphemous statement, and thereby alienate the nationalists?
IV. What do the commentaries have to say about the text?
Eugene Boring, The New Interpreter’s Bible, “Matthew”. While affirming the need to make a distinction between things that belong to Caesar and loyalty to God, Matthew leaves actualizing the decision to the readers who must become “Jesus theologians.”
V. With respect to the hearers (including the preacher), What does this text want to say and do?
Those times when my sermons were best received,
when parishioners came up and said: “I felt you were preaching directly to me,”
were those times when I was preaching to myself. — Rabbi Chet Diamond