A Messiah's View of Taxes
Text: Matt. 22:15-22
1. Read Matt. 22:15-22
2. Illustration: "As a taxpayer, you are required to be fully in compliance with the United States Tax Code, which is currently the size and weight of the Budweiser Clydesdales" (Unknown).
3. One day, representatives of two unusual groups come and ask Jesus a question that they intended to use to get rid of him.
a. The two groups were the Pharisees and the Herodians.
b. They rarely agreed with one another, and certainly didn't like one another.
c. But the one thing they did agree on is that they had to do something about Jesus.
4. The question they chose to ask him had to do with paying taxes. They asked him, "should we pay taxes to Caesar or not?"
a. There were 3 general taxes that were paid by the Jews to the Roman government in the time of Jesus:
b. The Land Tax (money or land),
c. The Toll Tax (in ports or cities), and
d. The Poll Tax (kind of a capital gains tax). It is the Poll tax that is in question here.
5. Jesus saw through they flattery and sweet talk. In fact, he called them hypocrites. So he tells them to give him a coin used to pay the tax.
a. It was a silver coin, minted expressly by the emperor, who alone had the authority to issue coins in silver or gold.
b. All such coins, including the denarius, bore an engraving of the emperor on one side and an identifying inscription on the other.
c. The side with the inscription said, "Tiberius Caesar, son of the divine Augustus" (Horton, 477).
d. The coin itself infuriated the Jews because the inscription claims that the emperor was divine, and any image was forbidden because it was considered an idol.
e. Both were in direct opposition to the Ten Commandments.
6. After holding up the coin Jesus asked them, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. “Well, then,” he said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”
a. This statement is so profound that it is often missed because of its simplicity. Apodidōmi (render) means to pay or give back, implying a debt.
b. It carries the idea of obligation and responsibility for something that is not optional.
c. The implication would be that if what is due the emperor was the coin bearing his image, what is due God is yourself as a person bearing the image of God (France, 833).
d. Jesus answer to their question has two ramifications for them in their day, and to us today.
e. Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar.
f. Give to God what belongs to God.
Transition: Here are....
I. Five Things We Owe Caesar (21a).
A. Pay Our Taxes
1. Romans 13:6-7 (NLT)
6 Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do.
7 Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.
2. We are starting here not because it is the most important, but rather because it is the most apparent to our text.
3. As citizens of the United States of America we are obligated to pay our taxes.
4. If we fail to meet that obligation we open ourselves up to problems of our own making.
5. Illustration: It reminds me of the old Fram air filter commercial, "You can pay me now, or you can pay me later!"
6. However, not only should we pay our taxes because the government tells us to, but also because the Word of God tells us to.
B. Pray For the Nation
1. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT)
Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.
2. The first thing that we need to notice about this verse is that it says "my people."
3. God's people; Christians!
4. Illustration: Martin Luther said, "As it is the job of the cobbler to mend shoes, so it is the Christians job to pray."
5. God is asking his people to pray for our nation, and in doing so recognizing that we are totally dependent upon God.
6. This goes against the grain of our personality as a nation. We are a proud and independent people and think that we do not anybody's help.
7. However, we need to humble ourselves and realize that without God's help we can't do anything.
8. If we will do this God promises to hear our prayers, forgive our sins, and heal our land.
C. Pray For Our Leaders
1. 1 Timothy 2:2 (NLT)
Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.
2. Paul’s command to pray for kings was remarkable considering that Nero, a notoriously cruel ruler, was the current emperor (a.d. 54–68).
3. When Paul wrote this letter, persecution was a growing threat to believers. Later, when Nero needed a scapegoat for the great fire that destroyed much of Rome in a.d. 64, he blamed the Roman Christians so as to take the focus off himself.
4. That triggered severe persecution throughout the Roman Empire. Not only were Christians denied certain privileges in society; some were even publicly butchered, burned, or fed to lions.
5. But believers were taught to support the government and those in authority, not rebel against it (Life Application New Testament Commentary).
6. If Paul could encourage the believers of his day to pray for Nero, then we should pray for our President today.
7. You might not like him, his politics, his policies, or his ideals, but the only one that is going to change those things is God, and the only thing that is going to bring that about is prayer.
8. It is easy to criticize, but it more effective to pray.
9. Illustration: "...Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons -- but they are helpless against our prayers." Sidlow Baxter
D. Be Good Citizens
1. Romans 13:4-5 (NLT)
4 The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong.
5 So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.
2. This means that if the sign says "no parking" you don't park there.
3. This means that if the speed limit is 55 you don't do 80.
4. Illustration: Ever wonder what people think of Jesus when they see us doing 80 in a 55 and the only thing they see is your bumper that say "Jesus Saves!" on one side and a little fish symbol on the other?
5. How can we submit to the governing officials and rebel against its laws?
6. How can we tell people about the love of Jesus and their need to repent of their sins when we continue to sin by disobeying the laws of the land?
E. Be A Good Witness
1. 1 Peter 2:12 (NLT)
Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.
2. The world watches everything a genuine believer does. If a person really follows Christ—if he is genuine—then the world watches.
3. This is the reason for this exhortation: we must live honest lives before the world.
4. The word "properly" means a good life, a life that is honorable, righteous, pure, lovely, decent, excellent, upright, and noble. It means a life that is without blame.
5. The world watches a genuine believer to see if he really lives what he professes.
6. Therefore, we must live honest lives, lives that are just what we profess: holy, righteous, and pure.
7. Remember we are ambassadors of Jesus in a foreign land because our home is in heaven. Therefore, we must represent Jesus in a way that honors him.
Transition: Now lets look at...
II. Five Things We Owe God (21b).
The real answer to what we owe God is...everything. Now let's define everything.
A. Pay Our Tithes
1. Malachi 3:10 (NLT)
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!
2. Again, it's first on the list not because of its importance, but rather because of its relationship to our text today.
3. However, it is certainly not something that we can overlook. It is an obligation; a command; it's nonnegotiable.
4. God gives us everything we have and requires only that we give back to him 10%.
5. If we do, he promises to open the windows of heaven for us, and pour out a blessing so great we won't have room for it.
6. We are living in very difficult times financially, and the temptation is before us to say, "God, I just can't afford it!"
7. Let me ask those of you who have said this to the Lord, how is it working out for you? Doing any better?
8. Wouldn't you be better off to trust God rather than trying to do it on yourself?
B. Commit Our Lives
1. Colossians 2:6-7 (NLT)
6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.
7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
2. The word "Lord" means "one who holds complete power or authority over another" (Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Symantic Domains).
3. To say that Jesus is Lord means that we are completely under is control and authority.
4. That our lives no longer belong to us but to him.
5. You will notice that most of the writers of the New Testament refer to themselves as servants of the Lord Jesus.
6. Illustration: James, the half brother of Jesus, who wrote the Letter of James, could have easily identified himself as "the younger brother of Jesus." But he identified himself as "a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ."
7. We owe God our lives, because he has given us life, both physically and spiritually.
8. We owe him our very selves. Remember what I said earlier, "The implication would be that if what is due the emperor was the coin bearing his image, what is due God is yourself as a person bearing the image of God (France, 833).
C. Be Committed to the Church
1. Hebrews 10:25 (NLT)
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
2. We owe God commitment to his church. Notice that I said it is HIS church.
3. We are told in Hebrews not to neglect meeting together and to encourage one another.
4. Kind of hard to encourage people when you're not here! In fact, it is a major discouragement when you're not here.
5. The Apostle Paul refers to the church as "The Body of Christ."
6. You'll find that when one part of the body is gone it effects the whole body. If you don't believe me, ask someone who has lost an arm or a leg!
7. You owe it to God, and to everyone else in the church, to be here on a consistent basis.
D. Praise Him
1. Psalm 103:1-3 (NLT)
1 Let all that I am praise the LORD; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
2 Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.
3 He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.
2. Don't know about you, but that doesn't sound like a suggestion to me.
3. We owe God our praise because he is a great God.
4. We owe God our praise because of all that he has done for us.
5. We owe God our praise for saving our souls.
6. We owe God our praise for forgiving our sins.
7. We owe God our praise for providing for us.
8. We owe God our praise for healing our diseases.
E. Do His Work
1. Mark 16:15 (NLT)
And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.
2. Whoever we are, God sent someone to tell us the Good News, and so we owe it to him to tell others.
3. Illustration: Evangelism is described as one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.
4. We owe it to God because he has commanded us to tell others.
5. We owe it to God because he has chosen to use us to spread his Word.
6. We owe it to God because we owe him everything.
Transition: We could go on and on about what we owe God, but this is a good place to start.
1. We need to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
2. We need to give to God what belongs to God.
3. Are you giving to Caesar what belongs to him?
4. Are you giving to God what belongs to God?
Proposition: We owe God to keep his commands because we owe him our very lives.