LSB Setting III with Holy Communion
Title: Christ has claimed you and made you His!
Text: Matt. 22:15-22
18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said, “Caesar's.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” 22 When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away
When Sgt. Ray Baarz of the Midvale, Utah police department opened his wallet, he noticed his driver's license had expired. Embarrassed at having caught himself red-handed, he had no alternative. He calmly and deliberately pulled out his ticket book and wrote himself a citation. Then Baarz took the ticket to the city judge who issued the fine. "How could I give a ticket to anyone else for an expired license in the future if I didn't cite myself?" Baarz asked.
Holding yourself accountable is important as we render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. We are compelled to live within that tension - between the spiritual and civil realm - every day of our lives. So daily we must remember that:
Christ has claimed you and made you His!
15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle [Jesus] in his words.
The Chief priests and Pharisees had not been doing well with Jesus. Previously in the parables they had been thrown out of the vineyard, having had the vineyard given to other tenants (Matt. 21:33-44) and last week they had ignored the invitation of the King to attend the wedding feast, (Matt 22:1-14) and unless you are clothed with the proper wedding garment which is - not certainly the filthy sin stained rags of our own righteousness – but the righteousness that comes only by faith in Christ Jesus our Lord and His finished work.
To say that the Pharisees are not happy would be an understatement and they begin to plot and make plans to trap Jesus. They want to catch Him in something that they can then accuse him of and turn him over to the authorities to have Him tried and ultimately … have Him put to death. This way they are sure that they can get rid of him once and for all.
6 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians …
The disciples of the Pharisees went to Jesus and also brought some of the Herodians with them. The Herodians are only mentioned 6 time in the New Testament and there is some debate as to whether they were a political party distinct from the Pharisees and Sadducees and supporters of Herod Antipas, or were actually soldiers in Herod’s court. Either way … the Pharisees were bringing politicians or soldiers with them to Jesus, and that was neither meant as a way to get Jesus’ political support or to have him enlist!
… saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone's opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.
This is what might be called … painting a picture.
“Yea, yea … we believe everything you say because we know you’re telling the truth. You don’t care with other’s say … even if they are the religious leaders so why don’t you say it in front of these politicians or soldiers of … Herod … yea … and of course we mean you no disrespect!
So ... 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”
So, speak up so these Herodians can hear you.
A few weeks ago, Pastor Merrell and I attended a workshop dealing with issues relating to Church and State. Members Jim Rich and Sue Vogt were also in attendance. It brought to light some things that churches can do to protect the rights and conscience as it pertains to a changing culture. One thing that became very clear was the need to get as many Christians as possible to register to vote. The more true believers who take part in the process and exercise their right as citizens and vote, the more biblical and pleasing of an outcome we might have. But as was pointed out, as Christians we need to be informed voters.
The Pharisees and the Herodians – politics and soldiers - too had an agenda.
18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” as if they didn’t know 21 They said, “Caesar's.”
You and I know the laws. We know what or whom has been placed over us whether it is the laws that are on the books, or the police officer that has just given you a ticket for an expired driver’s license, or political official who has just voted in a way that is contrary to your desire and even God’s desire.
We are all called to proclaim God’s truth in light of civil persecution. We are called to love those who persecute us. If the laws call us to do something contrary to God’s word we need to sand firm and use our ability as citizens to also exercise our rights to bring about change.
According to a traditional Hebrew story, Abraham was sitting outside his tent one evening when he saw an old man weary from age and journey, coming toward him. Abraham rushed out, greeted him joyfully, and then invited him into his tent. There he washed the old man's feet and gave him food and drink. The old man immediately began eating without saying any prayer or blessing. So Abraham asked him, "Don't you worship God?"
The old traveler replied, "I worship fire only and reverence no other god."
When he heard this, Abraham became incensed, grabbed the old man by the shoulders, and threw him out his tent into the cold night air.
When the old man had departed, God called to his friend Abraham and asked where the stranger was. Abraham replied, "I forced him out because he did not worship you."
God answered, "Abraham … I have suffered him these eighty years although he dishonors me. Could you not endure him one night?"
The things that in this life may grieve us as Christians grieve our loving God as well. But He who is righteous is long suffering.
9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 2:9
God is slow with you and He is slow with me. Not giving up on us and our failings but calling and bringing us by the power of His Spirit to believe. God in Christ has suffered with us for some of us many years as we at times choose to fall away from His word looking to what society and the civil leaders tell us what to believe and do. He is long suffering towards us and we need to be long suffering to those we encounter that also don’t see things as we do.
Then [Jesus] said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.”
This image is very much simple to see. The question of should we pay tax is simple answered by Jesus give to Caesar or give to the State what it requires but then it becomes a bit harder. Give to God what is His.
You are called to respond to the call of the gospel. The Pharisees and Chief Priests had been called and they had refused to care for the vineyard and ignored the invitation to the wedding feast. We too look to things other than the things God’s desires and drift away from Him and his word. God’s desire is you and you fully trust in Him.
He has claimed you and made you His!
Despite the trials of this world God has sent His son to take the fullness of His wrath you deserve. It is finished Jesus said and you are no longer accountable. He has died for all flesh, heterosexual as well as homosexual and calls you to repentance. Broken as you are He restores, forgives and calls you to be his child forever. Your sin is never beyond his redemption.
Christ has claimed you and made you His!
In the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!