Sermon by Kenny Foster, Senior Pastor, “Whose Portrait… And Whose Inscription?” from Exodus 33:12-33 & Matt. 22:15-22
This Sunday’s message should come with a warning. The warning is needed because the Scripture reading brings us into the realm of politics. Politics and religion, it is often said, don’t mix. But in Matthew 22 Jesus mixes it up when he answers a question with a question. He is asked a question about paying taxes. He answers with a question, saying, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?” (Matt 22:20) The response to the question put the Pharisees and Herodians, two political parties, on the horns of a dilemma. They have to give to Caesar and God. The trap setters are trapped! How they respond to Jesus’ directive exposes where their true loyalties are.
This is a sermon that addresses politics, but not as something evil. But like everything in our world, politics can be used for evil or good. They are broken, but worth redemption. For the Christian in our times, instead of being polarized according to a political position or party’s platform, we are to remember whose image we bear and whose title is on us.
An image and title is about glory. Christians bear the image of Christ. Christians are most concerned about God’s glory. God alone determines how his glory is seen and to whom it is shown.
If that is true, every follower of Christ is most concerned with seeing the face of the Lord, having his presence with them, and beholding his glory, regardless of your political affiliation. God’s glory is what the Christian in America should be most passionate about.
For this to happen, you have to escape the trap of those who would use politics to control others. In order to escape you have to answer the questions; “Whose portrait do you bear? And whose inscription is on you?” The only way out is to hear these words from the One whose image you bear; “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” (Exodus 33:17) How do you know that God is pleased with you? The child of God has this assurance because Jesus Christ allowed the trap of the then political powers to ensnare him on the cross. The brokenness of our world is seen in the treatment of Christ. But that he stayed on the cross shows us that our world is worth redeeming. In the gospel, politics and religion are perfectly mixed, as love and justice kiss each other, in Christ, on the cross.