Matins Devotion: April 18, 2023
Today is tax day. Our annual reminder to render unto Caesar. A reminder that we live out our lives in what Luther called the left-hand kingdom. A kingdom ruled by earthly princes and defined by political borders. A kingdom which, as we seem to so often be reminded of, is polluted by injustice, corruption, and violence. Ruled by those who are eager to call good evil and evil good.
And yet, even while we pray for Caesar and give him his due as our Lord commanded. We are, at the same time reminded of the hope that we have in our Lord’s promise. That our true citizenship lies in a kingdom not of this world, but, rather, in a kingdom that comes from above. A kingdom ruled not by earthly princes who seek to enrich themselves and consolidate power, but by the King of Kings who comes to destroy the power of sin, death, and the devil so that he might give us the right to live under him in righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.
How does this kingdom of God come? This is what Luke is showing us in our gospel reading. Jesus is sent for the very purpose of bringing the kingdom—which he brings through the active power of his Word. Jesus goes about teaching the people as one who speaks with authority. He goes about commanding unclean spirits—showing that his Word has the power to silence their blasphemy and strip them of their dominion. Jesus speaks his Word and both sickness and disease are conquered. Jesus shows that he is the King of Righteousness who speaks with authority and power that no earthly king can match.
Yet Jesus hasn’t come to be an earthly king. When the people beg him to stay and try to keep him from leaving the area, he says, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God in other places as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” You see, the wonderful thing about the kingdom of God is that it’s not limited by time and place, defined by geography or borders, determined by elections or treaties, or enriched by tariffs and taxes. Rather, it comes to us whenever and wherever the Word of Christ our King is preached. Christ’s Word still carries authority. Still goes out with power. Still silences devils. Still conquers the darkness. Still destroys the dominion of death. No earthly kingdom can suppress it. No earthly king can stand against it. No earthly power can defeat it.
So today pay your taxes. Render unto Caesar. And then give thanks to Lord. Thank him that his kingdom has come near to you through his Word. Thank him for the Word that he spoke over you in baptism, which ripped you out of the devil’s kingdom and placed you under the rule of the Prince of Peace. Thank him for the Word that he speaks to you in the absolution, which forgives your sin so that you may inherit a share in his Kingdom of Righteousness. Thank him for the Word that he speaks to you from his table, which invites you to eat and drink a foretaste of the feast to come in his Kingdom which will have no end.