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The crowds in Jerusalem hailed Jesus as Liberator.

“Hosanna to the Son of David.

Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest!”

Using a phrase from Psalm 118,

they look back to the glory days of King David and the monarchy;

days when Israel was strong and defeated her enemies.

Such memories made a painful contrast with the situation of Jerusalem

in the days of Jesus: an occupied city,

with a garrison of Roman soldiers in a fortress overlooking the temple.

No wonder, as the gospel says, “all the city was stirred”.

The crowds were, however,

soon disillusioned.

The triumphal entry to Jerusalem

is described in chapter 21

of St Matthew’s Gospel,

but already by chapter 22

we are shown a scene which explains why the crowds were disappointed.

MATTHEW 22:15-21 The Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. ‘

Teacher,’ they said, ‘we know that you are a man of integrity

and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.

You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are.

Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the poll-tax to Caesar or not?’

But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me?

Show me the coin used

for paying the tax.

They brought him a denarius,

and he asked them, ‘

Whose image is this?

And whose inscription?’

Caesar’s,’ they replied.

Then he said to them, ‘

So give back to Caesar

what is Caesar’s,

and to God what is God’s.

Some of the learned élite, hoping to collect evidence

to convict Jesus as a threat to the imperial government,

show him a coin and ask whether or not it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar.

The coin in question probably bore the image of the Emperor Tiberius

with the legend “Son of the divine Augustus”.

Jewish ultra-nationalists refused to handle such coins, but Jesus took the coin and said, “Render to Caesar the thing that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”

In the ancient world, Caesar was treated as divine; but Jesus refuses to identify the Imperial Regime – or, in our case, the Government — with the will of God. He does, however, acknowledge a proper place for the government of Caesar. There is a secular sphere in which people of different beliefs

can co-operate under the rule of law

without putting into question our ultimate loyalty as Christians to God,

as we see him in Jesus Christ.

The Christian faith does not make God into Caesar,

and we can with a good conscience pay our taxes

and follow government instructions as this crisis unfolds. But the crowds with their memories of the warrior King David

were expecting a rather different kind of liberator,

and their hosannas were short-lived.

By the end of the week

the hosannas had turned into a chant of “Crucify him!”

Written by The Rt. Revd. Richard Chartres, former Bishop of London,

and posted on Wilton parish website for Holy Week, 2020.

The poll-tax was the most resented of the many taxes that had to be paid, in order to compensate Roman soldiers in occupation as well as funding various public works projects such as building roads, aqueducts, public buildings and the like.

The poll-tax was assessed on every adult male yearly, and it was for this reason that the census was taken when Joseph and Mary had to return to Bethlehem, in order to ensure that the proper amount was being collected. This tax had to be paid with a Roman denarius, a silver coin minted for the purpose of collecting the tax, the equivalent amount a Roman soldier would earn in a day. It was collected by the Procurator or Roman Governor of the province (Pontius Pilate at that place and time), and then sent to Caesar.

This is one of the reasons that the Jews, especially the Zealots, resented this tax so much. This tax signified Caesar’s personal authority over them, and it had been the cause of insurrection in 6AD by Judas of Galilee and other subsequent similar incidents.


did you create the stars,

hurl them to the reaches of the universe;

did you issue rules that keep the planets in place?

Can you make blood course through our veins?

Or craft an otter or a moonflower?

Then keep your coins.

They can’t buy what we need.


It is your face we see

in our world, our very selves, our breath and love.

We owe every single thing to you.

Claim it all. Claim us.

Please take us

as your


A. Osdieck. Copyright © 2011,

The Center for Liturgy at Saint Louis University.

A coin has two sides:

one identifies the issuing authority;

one refers to history or culture.

I am made in the image of God,

indelibly stamped with God’s character;

May I bring value to the people among whom I live

as I witness to God’s presence and life.

Save us, O Lord, while waking,

and guard us while sleeping,

that awake we may watch with Christ

and asleep may rest in peace.


Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High

and abides under the shadow of the Almighty,

Shall say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my stronghold,

my God, in whom I put my trust.’

For he shall deliver you from the snare of the

fowler and from the deadly pestilence.

He shall cover you with his wings

and you shall be safe under his feathers;

his faithfulness shall be your shield and buckler.

You shall not be afraid of any terror by night,

nor of the arrow that flies by day;

Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,

nor of the sickness that destroys at noonday.

Glory to the Father and to the Son

and to the Holy Spirit;

as it was in the beginning is now

and shall be for ever. Amen.

Save us, O Lord, while waking,

and guard us while sleeping,

that awake we may watch with Christ

and asleep may rest in peace.

God of love and hope, you made the world and care for all creation, but the world feels strange right now. The news is full of stories about Coronavirus. Some people are worried that they might get ill. Others are anxious for their family and friends. Be with them and help them to find peace. We pray for the doctors, nurses, scientists, and all who are working to discover the right medicines to help those who are ill. Thank you that even in these anxious times, you are with us. Help us to put our trust in you

and keep us safe.

Be with us, Lord, in all our prayers, and direct our way toward the attainment of salvation, that among the changes and chances of this mortal life, we may always be defended by your gracious help, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Merciful God, we entrust to your unfailing

and tender care this night

those who are ill or in pain,

knowing that whenever danger threatens

your everlasting arms are there to hold us safe.

Comfort and heal them,

and restore them to health and strength;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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