Dramatic Reading: Matthew 22:15-22

Here’s a dramatic reading of Matthew 22:15-22 (with commentary) written by Nancy C. Townley.

Readers’ Theatre
(Matthew 22:15-22)

Reader 1: The Pharisees sent people to Jesus. They said, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere and teach the way of God in accordance with truth and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality.”

Reader 2: Wow! Listen to them buttering Jesus up, trying to get on his good side, flattering him. They really want something, don’t they! They aren’t approaching him because they believe in him; they are just setting him up to test him, to trap him.

Reader 1: And, they continued, “Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor or not?”

Reader 2: There it is, the TRAP! Get him to say, yes it is lawful and they will prove him to be a fool. They think that he is after their money and all their possessions. They probably wonder if he is going to take over their jobs, ruin their lives.

Reader 1: Jesus was aware of their cunning trick. And he asked them to give them the coin that is most commonly used to pay taxes to the emperor. “Whose image is on this coin and by what title is he called?” They said “It is the emperor.”

Reader 2: Hah! Now he’s got them! They are the ones trapped although they don’t know it yet.

Reader 1: Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Reader 2: Sounds simple enough: give the emperor the tax that is asked for. But what’s this “give to God the things that are God’s”? Wasn’t he just responding to their question, trying to spring their own trap on them? What are we supposed to give to God?

Reader 1: “When the people heard this, they were amazed, and they left him and went away.”

Reader 2: Everything is God’s. Every thing belongs to God. Everything, in all creation. We . . . we belong to God. We are God’s, beloved, chosen, redeemed. We are God’s. How incredible is that?!

PASTOR: Incredible? Perhaps, but perhaps not. You see, God has always loved us all, and we are God’s own people. God has chosen us to be a blessing to others, to promote healing, to create atmospheres in which all people are welcomed and accepted, to reach out in compassion to each other and to all who are in need. We give to God the things that are God’s; we give ourselves, our hearts, our souls, our spirits, our energy, and our minds, in loving and joyful service to God. Today you wrote your name on this strip of paper, not knowing its purpose or its use. It was formed into a circle, a reminder of the continual love of God in our lives, and it is linked with others. Each circle/link gains strength and support from the others. We are not alone. God is with us, lifting, encouraging, and healing us for service, to link with others in compassionate ministry. Thanks be to God. AMEN.

— Nancy C. Townley, posted on the Ministry Matters website.  Visit that site for many other good lectionary-based worship resources. 

For more worship resources related to this text, or other texts for October 16, 2011 (the eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost), click on Proper 24A in the list of “Labels” at the lower right side of the page.

For others readers’ theatre settings of scripture, click on Readers Theatre in the list of “Labels” at the lower right.