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Summary: Message about Jesus’ words to give to Caesar what belongs to him, and to God what belongs to Him.

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Giving to Caesar…2000 Years Later?

Matthew 22:15-22

August 31, 2008

NOTE: THE ME/WE/GOD/YOU/WE FORMAT USED IN MY MESSAGES IS BORROWED FROM ANDY STANLEY’S BOOK, "COMMUNICATING FOR A CHANGE."

We: Who likes paying taxes?

If we could find a way to avoid paying them, wouldn’t that be a great thing?

Well, not necessarily.

I’m not in favor of excessive taxes, but I like what my taxes get me. Things like roads, a national military that keeps us safe, police, fire departments, and that kind of stuff.

And since it takes my taxes to make that happen, I’m willing to pay them. I didn’t say I enjoy paying them. I’m willing to pay them.

Taxes are a part of life, and have been, almost from the beginning of time. At least since the beginning of governments, politicians, and pork barrel projects.

I came across this as I was working on the message:

If you love something, set it free.

If it comes back, it will always be yours.

If it doesn’t come back, it was never yours to begin with.

But...

If it just sits in your living room, messes up your stuff, eats your food, uses your telephone, takes your money, and doesn’t appear to realize that you actually set it free in the first place, you either married it or gave birth to it.

Either of which is probably tax deductible. (TaxGaGa.com)

For many folks, taxes are more than just a burden, they’re a constant reminder that we don’t just work for ourselves – we work for the governments above us.

And for some, paying taxes is just plain wrong – and they’ll be glad to tell you why.

The problem is that the government doesn’t care about their opinions, and they tend to get a bit testy when people refuse to pay their taxes.

And taxes are part of the bigger issue of government, and that is part of an even bigger issue – whether Christians can and should support the government, with taxes or in any other form.

Today we’re going to look at ways to juggle the idea of being a citizen of heaven while living on earth, which is really what’s at the heart of the question that is posed to Jesus in our passage for today.

God: We continue to work our way through the gospel according to Matthew, and we continue to look at what transpired on what we believe is the Tuesday of Holy Week, just three days before He was crucified.

He has been busy these last couple days – healing, teaching, debating, all in preparation for what He knew was coming up.

At this point, we find some people confronting Jesus about the issue of taxes, which, believe it or not, were just of much of an issue in Jesus’ day as in ours, and maybe even more so.

Matthew 22:15-22 (p. 699) –

15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. "Teacher," they said, "we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"

18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax." They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?"

21 "Caesar’s," they replied.

Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s."

22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

I want to start off by pointing something out that I never caught until I was doing some research for this message.

It says in verses 15 and 16 that the disciples of the Pharisees and the Herodians got together to try and trap Jesus.

Unless you know who these groups are, you’d just pass over something very interesting – that these two groups hated each other! They were lifelong enemies.

Did you know that? I didn’t. Now we all know.

The Pharisees were opposed to the Roman occupation of Palestine. The Herodians were a political party that supported the Herods and the policies instituted by Rome. (Life Application New Testament Commentary)

Even in their hatred for each other they could find something in common: a hatred for Jesus. And so, they come together thinking that with one question they can finally find something in Jesus that will discredit Him to the people or that they can bring to the Romans as treason.

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