SER # 40Wa
FIRST UMC – NEBRASKA CITY
20TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
SUNDAY OCTOBER 18TH 2020
TEXTS: MATTHEW 22: 15 – 22
THEME: GIVE GOD HIS DUE.
In our story today we encounter two groups who were opposed to Jesus. There was a political group and religious group who thought he was undercutting their authority.
In our story today we find two groups involved in trying to trap Jesus even when they hate each other: Political Party – Herodians and religious group – Pharisees. Herodians, Party supported the Roman rule through King Herod Antipas who was answerable to Caesar the Roman emperor. The Herodians party had some financial and other benefits from the taxes that were paid. On the other hand, Pharisees were opposed to the Roman rule because Romans were colonizers and never seemed to respect the religious requirements of the day. The Roman ruling systems were not under Yahweh the one Living God of the Israelites. The Romans used these monies (taxes) for ungodly things according to the Pharisees. Though these two groups disliked each other for obvious reasons they decide at this time to unite and trap Jesus. They believed that from the start Jesus was undermining their authority and questioned their positions on many social and religious issues. We also need to realize that the audience of Jesus at this time was a mixed one. There were the committed disciples, committed believers, who were honestly seeking to learn more about God and how his teaching connected to their everyday challenges.
Jesus was therefore causing some
“discontentment’s” among the people. They figured if they asked him in public, they will have a public record of his response to hold him accountable. This is what we call a loaded question. This question begins sometimes like this “Do we still…………. (text while driving?)
By asking this question on taxes they wanted to blackmail Jesus to the Roman authority if he said they should not pay taxes. The Jews hated paying taxes to the Roman powers and they wanted to seek Jesus opinion on this or at least to support their rebellion of not paying taxes. If Jesus said it was unlawful to pay taxes, the Herodians would quickly report him to the Roman authorities as a seditious person. If he said they should pay taxes he would stand discredited in the eyes of the Jewish people. The Jews believed in a Theocratic nation where God is the King and if anything has to be paid it should be to this King (Yahweh). Therefore, by accepting to pay taxes to a Roman king is to accept that the Roman King is higher than their God. It seems uncle Sam also existed during Jesus day and his mode of survival is getting as much tax from the citizens as possible. Here is how it was in Jesus time in regards to taxes.
There were three types of government taxes at the time of Jesus by the Roman rulers and one religious’ tax. First, there was the ground tax (what we can call today property tax of our time). Every male was to pay one tenth of the grain and one fifth of the oil and wine. This could be paid in kind or money. Second, there was the Income tax (same as today maybe). This was paid by every Male from age 14 to 65, and every Female from age 12 to 65. The amount was fixed, it was one denarius a person (One day’s wage). This was also called the tribute coin like the one Jesus asked in our story today. Third, there was the Poll Tax or head Tax. This allowed people to be able to vote. Then there was a religious tax which was forth tax, that was called Temple tax which was Half-shekel for every Jew. That is why there were money changers in the temple to convert the secular money to the Temple money which you can now use for paying taxes in the temple and other offerings. When the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed (AD 70) people were being forced to pay to the temple tax at Jupiter Capitolinus in Rome. When they asked Jesus then whether it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not, he asked them to show him the coin. Whatever way Jesus answered this question it would open him into trouble but he outsmarted them by his answer: “Therefore render to Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” (V.21b). why do Christian have to pay taxes and what part of payment belongs to God. Do you know what belongs to God? YOU
From this passage we can learn the following:
- Sojourners of the world: (“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent to exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. Build houses and live in them, plant gardens and eat their produce. Takes wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” NIV) – Jeremiah 29:4-7. As sojourners of this world we are required to pay for services and benefit that we receive. From the sojourners of this world we owe the political government; safety from lawlessness, services like water, electricity, education, medical employment and so on. Failure in honoring our responsibility of the above is failure in being good citizens which amount to a failure in our Christian duty. This does not mean we can’t oppose the unjust system or oppressive system. If the demands of the citizenship of this world are contrary to the Kingdom of God we can oppose and refuse to obey. Like opposing rule of segregation, discrimination, torture, and others like that we can rightly oppose them
- Citizens of Heaven: Heavenly citizenship requires us to be in line with God teachings. God teaching call for obedience as well as commitment to his teaching. Very often when we hear this passage about Jesus talking on giving to Caesar what belongs to him the emphasis is on giving Caesar what belongs to Caesar. But it also mentions that give to God what belongs to God. We can quickly line up what belongs to God: First, we belong to God (Jeremiah 1:4-5). Don’t forget that Caesar also belongs to God whoever Caesar might be in our today’s world, therefore to him/her obedience is required. Second, God expects Obedience to him, “If you are willing and obedient you shall eat the good of the land” (Isaiah 1:19). As citizen of heaven we need to give to God our worship. “….and many people shall come and say, Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD to the house of God of Jacob that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths…… (NIV)” (Isaiah 2:3). Third, God requires our worship “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. NIV (John4:23). Forth, God expects our gifts and talents. All we have belong to him. He expects us to give back as stewards that which has been entrusted to us. He requires our tithes gifts and offerings. “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts. If I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need” NIV – (Malachi 3:10)
- A choice to make: The tempter always comes with sweet words. Look at the words that the Pharisees and Herodians use, “Master we know that you are a man of integrity and that thou teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You are not swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are.” This kind of voice might come from within. You are smart, you can do it without being discovered. We have to realize that the devil is at work everyday. If you believe that God is at work everyday you better also believe the devil does not take a day off. We have to realize that the devil can use other people to get you to trouble. It means that in the path of Christian journey we have to be aware of the words we use and even the activities that we are involved in. we have a choice to do what is right or not. We have the capacity to act or to ignore. Life is full of choices but whe have to never forget that some come to us as a trap. Be aware of the workings of the evil forces around you. Like the Herodians and the Pharisees who sought to trap Jesus the devil is actively at work to trap you. Some have fallen already in these voting cycle by allowing hate to guide them instead of love, understanding and openness. They have allowed injustice to take place just to fulfill their political persuasion. Let us learn something from Jesus. Never forget that even when money belongs to Caesar you belong to God hence do all the Godly things you can. Church father and leaders have taught us the way of living as believers. Bishop Reuben P. Jobs reminds of three important ways of living: Do no harm, Do good and Stay in love with God